Percy Jackson and the Olympians novelist Rick Riordan recently claimed that he was a racist while also decrying his own readers and fans as racist if they disagreed with race swapping Annabeth Chase.
In a post titled, “Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase,” Riordan wrote, “Racism/colorism isn’t something we have or don’t have. I have it. You have it. We all do. And not just white people like me. All people.”
He added, “It’s either something we recognize and try to work on, or it’s something we deny. Saying ‘I am not racist!’ is simply declaring that you deny your own biases and refuse to work on them.”
The author apparently wasn’t lying when he claimed that racism is something he has, thus admitting he’s a racist. In a now-deleted blog post from July 2020, Riordan claimed that being white was a drawback.
The post titled “Feathers? Why Feathers?” addressed why his character Piper, who is half-Cherokee, is described as wearing feathers in her hair. While detailing the research he did into the Cherokee, Riordan took issue with historian James Mooney’s race.
He wrote, “For Piper’s background, I started with James Mooney’s book History, Myths and Sacred Formulas of the Cherokee. Now, Mooney was a white guy, so that’s a drawback.”
That’s right, Riordan believes that simply because Mooney was white that’s a drawback and somehow effects the legitimacy of his work. If that’s not prejudice against someone specifically because of their skin color, I don’t know what is.
Interestingly, as you can see above, Riordan does admit that even though he believes Mooney being white is a “drawback,” that “most of the sacred stories that Tristan and Piper talk about in Heroes of Olympus come from Mooney’s collection.”
Riordan also claims that Mooney’s work “is still the most comprehensive collection of Cherokee stories available from that time.” So despite him claiming that him being white was a “drawback,” he still exploited the work for his own gain.
Another point of interest is that Riordan claims Mooney being white is a drawback, but he seemingly doesn’t realize that if you use his own logic that he must view himself as a drawback.
After all, Riordan is white and he adapted the Cherokee stories into his novels that were documented by Mooney.
Maybe the most galling aspect of Riordan’s claim that Mooney being white is a “drawback” is that he later posits, “After Mooney’s book, I turned to the work of Robert J. Conley, a writer and member of the Cherokee Nation (the Western Cherokees). His Cherokee Nation is the official history of his people, sanctioned by the Western Cherokee leadership. (Incidentally, the book draws heavily on Mooney as a source, which goes to show how reliant we are on earlier imperfect written records. Mooney is mentioned 92 times!)”
Clearly, the Cherokee Nation didn’t think Mooney being white was a drawback if their officially sanctioned history by Conley heavily cites his work. It’s almost as if his historical work stood on its own no matter what his race was.
In fact, in Conley’s Cherokee Nation: A History, he credits Mooney for collecting the best known origin tales of the Cherokee. Conley writes, “It certainly never entered into any of the origin tales of the Cherokees. Here is the best known, collected by James Mooney in North Carolina between 1887 and 1890 and published by the Bureau of American Ethnology in 1900.”
Aside from Riordan claiming, being white is “a drawback,” the now-deleted blog post also exposes just how weak Rick Riordan’s character is. The author admits that he would have radically altered his books if he were writing them today or in 2020, the year the post was written. His reasoning? “Societal norms change.”
Riordan wrote, “Having said that, would I do anything differently if I were writing Heroes of Olympus in 2020? Of course! I would probably do many things differently, because these books are 5-10 years old. Societal norms change. My mindset and understanding of issues change all the time.”
“Books are always a product of their time. They reflect the state of the author’s skill and worldview when they were created. We write them hoping they will be timeless, but knowing full well they will become dated, sometimes very quickly,” he added.
While it’s true that societal norms do change over time as anyone living in the United States can attest. As an example Disney, the company Riordan works for, is actively promoting transgenderism and even funding child mutilation through the benefits packages.
Now, the societal norms might have changed, but what doesn’t change is what is right and wrong. Those are static. Disney promoting transgenderism and paying for child mutilation is still wrong today as it was wrong 20 or 100 years ago. It doesn’t matter that societal norms are now promoting it. It’s still wrong.
Someone who is very clearly adapting their mindset and understanding of issues to the change in societal norms is a person who lacks integrity.
And Riordan’s lack of integrity has shown itself in the fruit he now bears, namely describing himself as a racist and then lashing out at his fans and readers as racists simply because they want a live-action adaptation to reflect the source material.
An action that is not racist, no matter what Rick Riordan purports to claim based on his ever-changing mindset and understanding that adapts to whatever the societal norms happen to be of the day.
What do you make of Riordan’s now-deleted post and his racism toward James Mooney based on the fact that he was white?