Cultural Appropriation - Comments Made



Okay, I haven’t really said anything much in regards to the original pictures, other than to say that Hipster /= Native American, but this last comment pisses me the fuck out so I want to say something.  To know where this comes, I just want to say that I’m an artist who sometimes makes Native Steampunk art, partly because I love the aesthetics and ideas behind Steampunk, and partly because of people like you ijustforgot, who like to stick NDNs forever in the past.


To whom this may concern;

Thank you for your opinion. I am well aware that I am not native. I didn’t mean for my costume to appear as though I was Native. I wanted to look as though a 19th century woman had traveled to Canada and had clearly picked up the clothing appearances of a trapper, and been influenced by local inhabitance. The weaponry was modified to appear more technologically advanced (making it accurate to steampunk) then a standard bow and arrow. The feather in the hair is because clearly I have no idea how to dress accordingly. I have admitted to that. OPENLY. Not to mention, apologized for.

I’m sorry but I’m calling bullshit on this backstory on your character.  You didn’t call your set Canadian Trapper Steampunk, you called it Native American Steampunk.  Big, huge, monstrous difference.  Also, if your character was supposed to be a trapper, it would make sense that she would adopt some clothing styles from Natives, because trappers did that a lot, but they would adopt things that would make fucking sense.  They adopted to wearing beaverskins and deerskin because that made sense.  They didn’t start wearing feathers in headbands because that did not make sense.

The thing that really pisses me off (and the only reason for my second explanation for my costume) is the comment about appropriation, as well as the ‘white’ comments.

Are you just including Native American’s to this list of cultures that those of us with ‘white privilege’ are not allowed to emanate? Or is it every culture?

If you what you mean by “emanate” is to appropriate cheaply from cultures not your own and you don’t seem to know much about, then yes, Native American cultures (because there’s more than fucking one) can be added to the list of cultures that people with white privilege cannot emulate.  I don’t know if every culture in existence can be put on that list, because I’m not a person who comes from every damn culture in existence, but mostly the people on the list on who you can’t appropriate from are people who have been oppresed, colonized, and genocided. 

I will have you know, I have worn Kimono’s and Sarees to special events around Toronto. (Both of which I own 2 sets of and are authentic.) I have taken college programs on Japanese culture, history and language studies. I spent much of my childhood growing up with my mother’s friend who lived with us; she was from China. I learned how to speak mandarin, and have photos of me as a child wearing traditional Chinese dress with all of her nieces and nephews. (One tall, chubby, blond haired and blue eyed, white kid amongst 7 Asian children.) In no way had I ever offended anyone for dressing as such.

These things are not worn or studied because I want to appropriate the culture they come from; it was because I was brought up to love everyone no matter what their ethnicity or gender. I have been taught to embrace everyone, including they’re culture. 

That’s a nice story.  How grand that none of the people around you were not offended by some of the things that you did and the clothing you wore.  However, that has nothing to do with what’s going on now, since clearly there are people who are offended by the pictures you took and the things you’ve said, and therefore a completely different situation.  Because if you truly had any respect for NDNs, you would apologize, say wouldn’t do something like this again, and not add any fucking commentary saying that the people you offended shouldn’t be offended by you appropriating.

Isn’t the intent more important than outside opinion?  I know it’s not realistic to expect people to be reasonable about some things. But how is my admiration and love of someone’s culture an insult to anyone? How can you turn my respect for ethnic clothing, something so positive, into something so negative?

For you to say that people with ‘white privilege’ are simply assimilating another’s culture while wearing ethnic clothing, merely on the pretence that they can, is disgusting and degrading to anyone who dresses in ethnic clothing, partakes in other ethnic experiences or wears costumes to represent another’s culture. 

Some people have different opinions on whether people can respectfully adopt from cultures that they didn’t grow up in.  Some people think it’s okay to adopt and adapt from different cultures as long as you’ve done careful research and  respect the culture you’re borrowing from.  Some people think to do so is wrong no matter what.

However, most of us agree that if you appropriate in cheap and disrespectful way, and borrow from stereotypes without really learning about the culture, which is what you did, than that is fucking wrong.  And opinions of the ones who you cheaply appropriate from matter more than intent. 

Because I am human, means nothing to you, but because I am white, means everything.  Would you be making these remarks if I were Hispanic, or African American

If they were appropriating in a way that stereotypes of NDNs, then a some of us would probably say something, though the commentary would be different, since people of the races you mentioned have had very experiences than white people have.  Sometimes they even have shared experiences with us.

If you were to say I have disrespected you by running around in a form of ‘Black Face’ I would understand. In fact if that was the case I probably wouldn’t have had an intelligent thing to say, and would have simply disregarded your comment. But I have not, and am not, and I will not stand for anyone believing that my costume was maid out of racial hate, or a mere simple minded whim.

 An act doesn’t have to be hateful to be racist.  Some of the most fucked up things that happened to the Natives of this land were perpetuated by people who supposedly had good intentions, for example, the Indian Boarding system in America and Canada.  Just because you didn’t make this costume in hate doesn’t make it less of a racist act.

In my opinion to make a judgment on the colour of my skin makes you no better then any white racist. You talk as if the way YOU speak is OK; as if it’s excusable because whites in the past used to commit racism, so let’s just go for an eye for an eye and not evolve.

Oh fuck, not the “it’s racist to point out my racism!” argument.  This really shouldn’t need explaining, so I won’t.

I’ve never oppressed anyone. I have never called anyone a racial slur, and yet you feel it appropriate to label me? You don’t know anything about me. You have taken a photograph and judged me with a stereotype that is outdated. Your comments are made largely upon the oppression placed on Native American’s by white people - done in a time long past. I was born in 1989, not 1889. I am unable to undo this past done to you by the people who settled here.  

Okay, this how I know you don’t know anything about Native Americans.  If you really think that all the bad stuff that happened to NDNs happened 200 years ago, FUCK YOU AND THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS HORSE YOU RODE ON.  Guess what?  There was plenty of fucked up shit white people did after creation of the reservation system.  There’s been plenty of fucked up shit done in modern times.  And there continues to be fucked up shit done still today.  Go read Native American History for Dummies or something because  if you think messed up things done to Natives by white-run governments stopped a hundred years ago then you need to learn that you are wrong.  Quit trying to dance in powwows and read.

This type of racial hate may have been started by white people, but it is carried by those who have been hated upon. The only way to end racism is to learn from it, repair the damage, and move one into a happy existence of equality.

Racism will stop happening when oppressors learn to stop being racist and stop doing racist acts, and not just when the oppressed tell them to stop doing something racist things.  Racism will end when the world no longer have entire systems built on racism.  We certainly don’t live in that world right now, but one of the first steps is that when white people appropriate from oppressed cultures and people who come from oppressed cultures tells them to stop, they stop doing it and don’t add fucking commentary about it.

Okay I’m done, if I’ve said something I shouldn’t have please someone correct me.

Basically, everything else I was thinking and feeling but was too flabbergasted to manage.

bam! somebody got told.

(via lols08-deactivated20111225)

cultural appropriation native american Reply Steampunk