Hana Shafi Hipsters: Say No to the Navajo*

Take that goddamn dreamcatcher off your purse. Stop wearing t-shirts with the Om symbol on it. You’re a blonde white woman and it’s disrespectful as fuck.

Don’t go around showing everyone your great hipster douchebag pictures of you and your equally white friends wearing Native American headdresses and warbonnets. I know that you feel that this must make you very cool and unique and all-embracing, but just so you know, it actually makes you racist.

That’s right! Cultural appropriation is racism too. It promotes negative stereotypes and only perpetuates racist attitudes. The things you’re wearing because of “fashion” and fucking “irony” actually have deep spiritual and cultural importance to those who are a part of that culture and live with the struggles of being a part of a racialized culture on a daily basis. Not to mention these ever popular pictures of topless white women in headdresses contributes to the constant sexualization of Indigenous women. Not cool.

“But I appreciate the aesthetic beauty of it!!!” “But I’m 1/20th Cherokee on my mom’s side!!!”  No, just stop. You’re getting a head’s up about how something you’re doing can be detrimental to an entire group of people, and you choose to combat it by ignoring, getting defensive, and then ultimately getting shut down, because hey, you’re just wrong.

So now you’re thinking, “but what do I do if I genuinely have a deep appreciation for this culture?” Well, here’s how to do it right. You can purchase art or decorative pieces made by artists OF THAT CULTURE (no, not an Urban Outfitters rip-off) and keep it in your home. That way you’ve contributed to that community by buying from an artist who is actually part of it, and now you have the piece you wanted located respectfully in the confines of your home. Wearing a mass produced t-shirt portraying Buddha is doing it wrong. And I don’t care if you have that one Buddhist friend who says it’s okay; he or she doesn’t speak for everyone. 

Trust me, it’s cultural appropriation, so just give it up. If you really do love that culture or religion, you’ll take the time to understand why cultural appropriation is harmful, and you’ll be respectful about it. Don’t just point out that one “ethnic” friend you have who hasn’t called you out on your bullshit. The rest of us just don’t buy it. 

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