Dear TooSoonJunes:


I honestly appreciated the fact that you took the time to respond to my accusation of racism so I decided to take equal time responding to your questions and arguments.  I could not do this on Twitter so I hope you don’t mind me writing this post just for you.

@TooSoonJunes: I’m RACIST?! Dude I have Native American ancestry!

I am not outright accusing you of lying but a lot of people have “Native American ancestry” but what they mean by this is that there is family lore about a Native American in their family tree somewhere.  While it would not be my place to suggest how to delineate who is and who is not a Native American if they are claiming it, such a claim by no means indicative of any actual substantial connection to Native American culture.  Someone who was deeply connected to the Native American culture wearing such a costume would be and I know a number who have or who planned to do this.

So let me ask you a few questions. What tribe are you from? Did you grow up on a reservation or a NA community of any sort? Do you participate in ceremony? Do you speak any of your indigenous language?  How have serious issues regarding mental health, poverty, addiction, tribal sovereignty and cultural appropriation impacted you as someone of Native ancestry?

I am not asking these as a litmus test where if you say no I am going to say “Well then you’re not Native!” (Again that is not my place) However, I do want to highlight claiming “Native American ancestry” is not a “Get out of Jail free card” from any racist accusation regarding one’s behavior.

@TooSoonJunes:”How is me going out in a headdress racist? Did I take a tomahawk? NO.”

I’m confused.  Your words imply that if you had a tomahawk it would be racist but because you only had a headdress it is not? Are you suggesting Native American costumes are only racist if specific props are present and others are absent?

As for why I believe going in a headdress is racist I wrote a short post on this.

@TooSoonJunes: So I’m racist because of what I wear. Sure. Because I’ve seen slaves, shackles, and blatant offensive costumes more than a headdress.

If someone dressed as a slave or went in blackface this to me would be equally offensive.  I think we can all agree that costumes that portray specific ethnic groups are in poor taste and should be avoided.

That being said, right now search Twitter for “slave costume.”  Then search “Native American costume.”  When I did this earlier, all I found for “slave costume” were hits to Princess Leia costumes that had nothing to do with black slavery.  When I searched “Native American costume” I got a ton of people, including you.

Dressing up as a Native American is perceived as far more mainstream and socially acceptable than dressing up as a slave. While slave costumes would be instantly criticized for some reason we are okay with Native American costumes?  Why is there a double-standard?

 @TooSoonJunes:But do I troll the fuck outta twitter? No.You can’t call me racist – it doesn’t affect you.

I am not Native American and have never claimed to be.  I am also not going to be personally harmed in some abstract psychological way if you do go as a Native American for Halloween.

However, there are a group of people who will be hurt, minimized, marginalized and stereotyped by your participation in this socially accepted form of racism.

If you doubt me, I suggest you read the American Psychological Association’s condemnation for Native American mascots.  While they are not discussing costumes per say, I think many of the reasons transfer over very well.

@TooSoonJunes:But you won’t try to make me out as a bad person because of a costume choice. not a lifestyle choice of embracing social racism

You are indeed participating in social racism.  The fact that you apparently did not understand how you are is why I commented on your post in a rather gruff manner.

@TooSoonJunes:I know exactly what a headdress means in NA culture, which is why I wore one.

I would never claim to be an expert on various Native American regalia, or the Native American ancestry you are claiming and their particular tradition but from my understanding War Bonnets were not intended to be worn as party costumes nor by women.  I’m fairly certain of that.

@TooSoonJunes:Did I dress up as the ‘sexy indian’ you troll for? No. I’m no insensitive. But you can have a huge heaping of kissing my ass trying to make me feel bad.

You are certainly not insensitive and reacted strongly to being accused of being a racist. That is a good thing.  However, I would encourage you to think about what I have written to you.  We all have blind spots and if you were raised in the mainstream U.S. society I would argue you are basically pre-conditioned to ignore and be dismissive of Native Americans. What we did to them is a dark part of our history that we gloss over and choose to remember only in myth and stereotype because the brutality and evil of what we have done and continue to do is horrendous.

About Speakfaithfully

I am figuring out life and faith and taking other people along with me on my journey. Sometimes as fellow travelers, sometimes as hostages.
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