Today, I’m embarrassed to be white because people still think of Native American as a product rather than a people. Take for instance Urban Outfitter’s Navajo line of clothing or the general tendency in the fashion world to sell Native American culture as a trend . I think Sasha Houston Brown did a good job explaining why this tendency in fashion is tacky and disrespectful in her open letter to Urban Outfitters, so I don’t need to repeat her points.
What I find especially frustrating and embarrassing is that people often act like they don’t know this kind of thing is wrong and then when a person like Sasha Houston Brown brings it to their attention, they say something along the lines of, “Get over it,” as if America’s glaring racial inequality is part of some ancient past.
Other annoying arguments include the ones that run along the lines: “Well, I’m 1/64th Native American and I don’t object to people selling fake plastic dream-catchers.”
This argument is funny because does anyone look at a person and say, “Hey, he looks 1/64th Native American. Let’s start discriminating.”
And then there are people who try to justify their indifference to Native American cultural exploitation by constructing their own race card. Example: “I’m English and I don’t get upset when punk rockers wear the Union Jack.” Or “I’m German and I don’t get upset when people wear lederhosen.”
First of all, most of the people who make these arguments are lying anyway. I want to say to these people, “You’re not German. You’re German-American. Actually, you’re not even German-American; you’re just an American of German extraction. You’re only making yourself out to be German so you’ll appear more exotic. Second of all, there is a difference between profiting from a culture that is still struggling with the consequences of genocide and selling the lederhosen/products of German culture (which is doing just fine). If you don’t understand this difference, then there’s no helping you.”
This is so tacky, I can’t even write a sarcastic caption for it.