An interesting perspective on Native American culture being trendy, fashionable, & hip.
Honestly, I have a hard time seeing Native American-inspired fashion and decor as racist. Cultural diaspora is what keeps us, as residents of planet Earth, continually learning and growing from each other. If my owning a pair of moccasins is racist, then so are the 10 years of tap classes I took, so are the beats employed by Animal Collective, and so is the fiddle, because it all was invented by African slaves when they needed a way to communicate with each other/be entertained on plantations. It seems to me that the careful guarding of one’s cultural traditions does not entirely keep to the basic integrity of one’s culture either - especially when it’s a culture that stretches far back into the early ADs - because it implies the existence of intellectual copyright, which only came to exist during the early 1600s with the age of European exploration. And while I can sympathize with this blog, because - after all - the subtext is entirely based on the memory of bloodshed; and while I agree that dressing as Pocahontas while copping some pseudo-tribal phrases from the film is racist-as-shit!, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the meaning of sharing when it comes to ideas and traditions.[…] And culturally speaking, being white is boring! What am I supposed to do for cultural expression? Shiver in a fur coat while I pen epic novels on my Fjord? Rape some land? Burn some villages? Try and look for potatoes while shaking my fist at the sky, saying, “Curses, Jay-soos! Curses, ye! Oh God willin’ that I had so many little’uns! How ‘twill these blighted croops keep me true da Winter?” Will that keep me more linked to my predecessors? I’d rather not. I’ll take some moccasins for 500, please.
Alright, I’ll bite.
I’ve come under a lot of flack lately for “banning all native things altogether.” If you read my blog thoroughly, you’ll find this is quite untrue. I’m against “dressing up” as the stereotypical Indian, and I am also against mass corporate profit that steals and perverts items of great cultural and religious significance.
I’m just here to encourage you to think critically about fashion trends that alienate and rob a culture, especially if that culture is already significantly marginalised.
Regarding the “but white culture is boring” arguement - I hear this one all the time. People see “white culture” as boring because it is mainstream. It is the gold standard. It is “normal.” This statement comes from someone who is unable to see their own privilege. I’m not trying to shame anyone here, but if your culture is so well represented that you can become bored of it, you need to think twice about what it is you’re doing when you “borrow” from other cultures and people you have the position to deem “exotic.”
There’s a right and wrong way to go about it. Try real moccasins from a native crafts person instead of the mall - not only are they way better ethically, they’re also a million times comfier.