My Native American Headdress…
I have an authentic feathered headdress in my closet yet I am zero percent native american. I’ve even worn it before!
In kindergarten I brought a pillowcase to class, stamped it with symbols, cut a hole in it (wore it as a dress), made a feather hat and danced!
My grandmother’s grandfather gave HIS headdress to her when she was young. She was 25% native american he was 100%. My mother was adopted and when I was really young, she gave it to me. She told me that it was very fragile and while it was totally okay to try it on and wear, it, I just needed to make sure that I didn’t mess it up. I’ve worn in about two times in my life and it stays in a bag the rest of the time. Once, I brought it to school for show and tell.
A few years after my grandma gave me the headdress we had Native American week at my kindergarten school. We were going to learn all about the Native Americans from their culture to the way they cooked. My grandmother came in and taught the class a bit of what she knew. We learned from text books and other speakers. At the end of the week, we got to make costumes and learn to do native dances. Since then, I have grown up with a love of native culture and an obsession with learning about the past.
By today’s standards, children shouldn’t imitate another culture that they are not from. If we had taken a picture in all of our (very inaccurate) costumes, we would be called horrible names. We weren’t horrible people, and I even came out of that week with a greater understanding of America’s past (and a love of studying it.) If everyone is happy and history is being respected, why don’t we just let children learn in the best way they know how. (Monkey see – Monkey do)
If you read my argument on privilege you will know I think getting along is more important than picking who is right. I think the need to blame each other, tell another why they should feel bad, and make others upset are all things a child does. You know I have a “thing” for helping others and not judging. The main point of my article on privilege was summarized in one of the last paragraphs. It’s directly related to my main point on appropriation. It reads:
We need to focus less on what others have that we don’t and more on helping those that have less than us.
~ How we should look at privilege by MadLady
Relating this to appropriation, we need to stop judging those who are just trying to live life. For that matter, the people really at fault, meaning those that feel the need to be derogatory and rude, aren’t really our problem either. We should focus on being nice to everyone. When was the last time yelling at someone who was already mad fixed anything?
Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture. Cultural appropriation, often framed as cultural misappropriation, is sometimes portrayed as harmful and is claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture.
If we didn’t take from other cultures we wouldn’t have fried chicken, pizza, locs, tea, and so much more. We wouldn’t be able to eat american tacos or sushi (I would actually cry.) We couldn’t carry our children in scarves or slings (widely seen as healthy for the baby.) With all those examples and more, you get the point. Culture sharing is cultural appropriation. You are taking something from a culture and using it in yours. Maybe you didn’t get it right, maybe you didn’t understand the meaning. The main thing is, you have taken something, drawn inspiration, changed it to suit your needs, and integrated it into your life.
What’s so wrong with someone wearing their hair the way that they like? Is it really that wrong to open a business making the food you love? Can a child have a party with a foreign theme? It’s all perfectly okay! We need to get over the “mine mine mine” feeling that has overtaken us in the past decade. We should celebrate the fact that our culture is growing and more people are picking up things that we do. We should even look at what they’ve done with our idea and see if, maybe, it’s better than ours. Maybe we can use this new version too.
Bad People Are Real:
All the above said, bad people do exist. There will be white people that use black face to hurt. There will be black people that use history to justify hating all white people. There will be HUMANS that try to hurt other HUMANS. It’s life. We should stand up and challenge them, yet not in anger. We should always be mindful.
Practicing Mindful (and positive) thinking… A solution in our face?
Mindful thinking. It’s not something I’ve written about (yet).
Mindfulness is generally described as, “1. the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. 2. a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.”
When we take mindful thinking and apply it to every day life, we see that being upset is okay. We understand that how we feel is important and should be acknowledged. What we should also incorporate into daily practice is reflecting on how angry we should be and what they other persons intentions are all are. We should think about how worth being mad is and if maybe we are justified in being angry at the person in question. If someone is mean, maybe we should respond with calm understanding. Maybe we should explain our situation calmly and keep an adult like tone on our conversations. Doing this, we will end up happier, and maybe we will change minds.
When was the last time yelling at someone who was mad really fixed anything?
A long example:
Say I wore my headdress (it would never, but only because it is much to fragile) for Halloween. Say I wore a “based on history” costume (meaning I made my own interpretation but stayed close to the source.) There are photos taken, some end up online. Two people see me.
Option one: Person A responds by telling how racist it is to wear a costume like mine when I am clearly white. They tell me that it isn’t even historically right and that’s even worse that a white person just wearing it to begin with. (similar to that is the young girl at her party)
Option two: Person B sees my photo. They have a gut reaction very similar to person A. Rather than lash out with a keyboard, they stop and think. They acknowledge that they are upset and feel that I have offended Native Americans. They note that I look happy and that they are unaware of the entire story. They note that my outfit is very similar to what would have really been worn. They stay positive and respond by stating that I look good and ask why I chose the outfit I did.
I choose to ignore person A in an effort to give only respectful discussion my attention. I tell person B where I got the headdress and that I respect history so much I took the time to not only research what would have really been worn, but also give it my own twist. I explain that I use Halloween to dress as the figures and things I love as it’s the only time it’s totally okay to do so. (this is actually true of me) Maybe person B agrees with me, maybe they don’t but they acknowledge my opinion and think on it, maybe they even, respectfully, tell my why they think I shouldn’t have worn it. I reflect on what they said and life moves on.