I want to share with you a very exciting “Cultural Effective” that has just come to my attention. It is a wonderful story that shows the power of saying our truth, listening with heart, and taking action on what feels right.
It seems a southern California-based fashion house, Paul Frank, hosted a huge party/event with a Native American theme. They seem to sell (or to have sold) quite a few products that include adaptations of native designs (the designer, Paul Frank, is also a cartoonist).
The people at Native Appropriations, among others, complained about cultural appropriation of native designs, and the Paul Frank company reached out to them to ask, learn and take action! They have not only issued an apology but yanked photos of the event and removed all native designs from their product line!
I don’t know the people over at “Native Appropriations,” but the work they are doing indeed looks wonderful! And kudos to Paul Frank for their openness and even eagerness to learn and develop!
There are so many ways we can inadvertently offend one another. Refusing to take offense but rather to tell one’s truth without blame or judgment, and then to be greeted by someone fully listening and wanting to hear and learn from that truth… What a great example they have set for us!
Appropriation is a slippery slope. I can think of several times in my life when a colleague or friend kindly and generously gifted me with traditional dress from their home. I wanted to wear it, to demonstrate my thanks and to show respect. And, in others’ eyes, wearing such dress, when I am not from that place, can insult. So many times appropriation begins as a compliment, as admiration. And so much is in the eye of the beholder.
While I have no direct knowledge or involvement in this story, it appears to be a good example of going beyond “political correctness” to really listening to and collaborating with one another.
Today I came across what I feel is a clear explanation of cultural appropriation, particularly in the Native American/indigenous people context. It was written after a recent fashion show in which Plains Indian headdresses were worn by the models: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/chelsea-vowel/an-open-letter-to-nonnati_b_1262816.html
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