On all the fantastic articles on cultural appropriation that have been making the rounds these past couple of days (Threadbared has a awesome round up here, I definitely recommend a look), the comments are getting heated. People are getting defensive, people are throwing the “omg it’s just fashion, get over it!” card, and people are getting downright nasty. I think the worst offenders so far have come on Jessica Yee’s post over at Bitch Magazine–I couldn’t even make it through the whole comment thread I was so angry.
a couple of highlights:
This is like saying its not cool to eat pizza unless you’re Italian. Or only the French can drink champagne. Learn to share your heritage. Stop holding on so tightly.
My ancestors weren’t even around before the 1900′s. They didn’t kill your ancestors. Get over it.
ugh. I get that one a lot. and my new favorite response (thanks jezebel) “Dear anonymous commenter, YOUR WHITE PRIVILEGE IS SHOWING.” By the sheer fact that you live in the United States you are benefiting from the history of genocide and continued colonialism of Native peoples. That land you’re standing on? Indian land. Taken illegally so your ancestor who came in the 1900′s could buy it and live off it, gaining valuable capital (both monetary and cultural) that passed down through the generations to you. Have I benefited as well, given I was raised in a white, suburban community? yes. absolutely. but by dismissing and minimizing the continued subordination and oppression of Natives in the US, you are contributing to the culture of power that continues the cycle today. This could be a whole post in itself, so I’ll stop there.
..ok, you know what? I’m not even going to post any others. These people aren’t worth it. head over to the thread if you really want to read it. The article is here.
I’m proud of Jess. Her points are things that bother me everyday. She has every right to be angry, and she doesn’t need to apologize for her article, her tone, or her points. It’s a voice that needs to be heard.
So why am I posting this? Not only to point out the ignorance of commenters on the internet, we all knew that already, but to point out how cliched and cyclical this conversation is. That awesome bingo card? made at least a year ago. This, sadly, isn’t new. These arguments continue to be brought up, and marginalized voices speaking out continue to be dismissed.
That’s why I’m so glad there have been so many articles out on the internet, even in the few months since I started this project. It seems like the issue is being raised again and again, and the word is getting out. But how outrageous and offensive does it have to get before people stop and take notice? Rolling on the floor in a sacred war bonnet on national television (looking at you Ke$ha)? giving yourself a fake “Indian” name for the sake of publicity (that’s you Speidi)? Mocking religious practices and calling them “Bro Therapy” (thanks Details)?
It’s not ok. It’s just not.
So go ahead, pick an article, any article, and head over armed with your brand new “Cultural Appropriation Bingo Card”. Believe me, you’ll be a winner in no time.
Threadbared roundup: http://iheartthreadbared.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/linkage-the-feather-in-your-native-cap/
Jessica’s Bitch Magazine article: http://bitchmagazine.org/post/to-the-hipstershippies-on-native-culture-%E2%80%93-please-stop-annoying-the-fuck-out-of-me