So I have sat down to write this post many times, usually just backspacing everything I write. Being honest isn’t the problem for me. My problem is others perceiving me as ignorant. I am just uneducated in this particular topic and I am seeking some understanding.
First, let me outline what in particular I do not understand: cultural appropriation. Let me explain further. Using this strictly as an example, I DO gather the problems with a Caucasian individual wearing a traditional Native American headdress, IF that individual has identified themselves/their heritage as non Native American origin. Here’s where I lose understanding: (again, strictly as an example) I see a lot on tumblr where a perceived “Caucasian” individual is reblogged wearing a headdress, then I see that particular post reblogged with hate or distain regarding cultural appropriation. Why do people automatically assume the person in that photograph is completely “white” with no origins to that particular culture they are “assimilating”? In this day and age our human race is made up of so many different cultures and races and it’s definitely not uncommon for one individual to come from more than one background. This is where I lose any comprehension because isn’t it just as racist to assume things about a person’s heritage and background when all you have to go off of is their physical features such as their skin tone, eye color, and hair color? This is, providing that individual has not said, yes I am “white”.
Let me make clear I am not attacking anyone on either side, and the only opinion I have is only what I do understand. I have a lot of followers that seem educated regarding this topic, thus why I am posting this. I find I relate to answers and discussions better from people, rather than articles or information searched for blindly on the internet.
Let me also indulge on a bit of my history so maybe it’s easier for others to comprehend my feelings on this. I was brought up in a somewhat racist household, and my own family worked endlessly to oppress their own cultures and backgrounds if they did not correspond with what they viewed as “superior”. My family values “normalcy” and will typically oppress anything they do not believe comes across as “normal”.
Obviously, I am a true black sheep of my world. I have worked to discover my background and heritage underneath all of this and I continually try to understand and educate myself on these kinds of issues as much as I possibly can. I acknowledge I am behind on these kinds of topics and I don’t like the way that makes me feel.
I am making this post and seeking guidance because racism is important to me.
Please also understand that me sharing this personal information about my background is by choice and I ask that you respect it. Unfortunately, I did not have a say in how I was brought up. All I can do is empower myself with knowledge and ask about anything I might not grasp.
Lemme field this one for you:
Being native doesn’t give you the right to wear a war bonnet
I am Seaconke Wampanoag. Enrolled, even (though don’t get me started on the bullshit that is tribal enrollment and blood quantum in terms of identity; identity policing and who gets to be native is a HUGE problem in our communities due to intra-poc racism, colonialism, assimilation, diaspora, and yes, fucking pretendians). And I would never wear a war bonnet.
Here’s a quick checklist for whether it’s ok to wear a war bonnet:
Was it placed onto your head by an elder/legitimate authority figure from a select number of plains nations because you personally achieved something so great that it is worthy of that kind of honor? (corollary: If yes to the above, are you currently wearing it in an appropriate ceremonial fashion/setting? Like are you at a powwow or speaking with the president?)
If you answered ‘no’ then IT IS NOT OK.
Any more than it would be ok to buy a decorated veteran’s purple heart that he had to pawn and put -that- on for a sexy/edgy/hip photo shoot. It’s that kind of disrespect, on top of the slap in the face that is cultural appropriation in general.
Here’s a quick checklist of when it’s ok to wear a cheapass knockoff war bonnet made from the feathers of Weeping Rainbow Chicken:
That applies even if the people in the pictures are a billion percent REAL ACTUAL NDNS on whatever rubric you’re judging on.
The fact that they’re taking pictures like these indicates that they do not have legitimate understanding of the gravity of their actions and the cultural history and importance of the artifacts that they’re profaning.
Why do we routinely identify the people in these photos as white? Because it’s usually white people who do this shit, because the confidence to blithely do this shit, to think that the entire world is yours to have, is a product of privilege and white people are the people who have the most of it.