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"Cultural Appropriation"


I was born in South Florida, a first generation American and the daughter of two parents whose native languages are not english. My mother emigrated from Colombia and was still learning english in the earlier years of my life. She has a heavy (and amazing) accent. Most of her family still lives in Colombia. My father was born in Canada and moved to the States when he was a young boy. Some of his family still live in Canada, some in The United States, and some in Europe. He now speaks three languages. Both of my parents remarried with partners who also immigrated to America who primarily spoke spanish. As young kids my brother and I traveled to Colombia where we attended a preschool/daycare of sorts.  We were the only American children at a table of 12 Colombian children. At five years old, my mother moved us to Worcester, Massachusetts, a (sometimes surprisingly) culturally diverse city where 136+ languages are spoken everyday. I spent the next 15 years of my life there. My four closest girlfriends growing up did not have American parents, and English was not the primary language in many of their homes. Some where first generation like me, some were moved to the states in grade school. One of my first friends was an Armenian girl, another Romanian, one Colombian, and my longest standing friendship to date is with one of the toughest, most politically correct females I've come to meet, a half Nepali. I'm sure much her toughness came from being teased in grade school, yak wool sweaters, glass bangles.... and no cable in her house, because well, no cable was a big deal for 8 year olds apparently. I attended the University of Rhode Island, moved to Arizona, relocated to Miami (where most days I felt like a minority struggling with my highly imperfect spanish in a dense hispanic neighborhood), and now live happily in South Florida.

My first memory in matters of race, culture, and cultural terms, was at my Nepali friend's house when I used the word "oriental" to describe something. Following my comment, she explained to me that people could not be described as oriental, the word was created for rugs and other things owned, but never people. She was right and I took that with me for the rest of my life. I was approximately 7 years old at the time. I've never given a second thought to how I grew up or to the friendships I've made throughout the years. The people in my life, who I love so dearly, were never in my life because of our differences (or similarities) in cultural background or religious beliefs, but instead because of the things we loved about each other. I was excited with every visit my Nepali friend made to visit grandparents. I had two of the thickest, most colorful handmade sweaters for winter and my arms were constantly covered with (very fragile) beautifully colored glass bangles. 

I joke with my mother about her misuse of the word "especial", though I know she has overcome obstacles, close minded individuals, and more, to assimilate into American culture to become a prominent, seriously-taken hispanic woman here. Regardless, at some point or another she will be treated as a second class American because of her heavy accent, and presumed to be an uneducated individual because her second language is less than perfectly perfect. Are there Colombian stereotypes that exist? Absolutely. Do we laugh once a week at the "typical colombian woman" character, Gloria on Modern Family? Yes. Do all her characterized stereotypes fit every Colombian woman? No, not at all, we only relate to some. Can Colombians get offended by someone in a Juan Valdez costume or associating all Colombians with drug cartels? Yes, but the entire race will not. To say that all members of one race or culture will feel pain by one stereotype, keeps us separated into groups of who is better, who is not, who has struggled more, deserves more rights, etc. Do I personally find offense in Colombian stereotypes? Not really, because even though I come from a partially Hispanic background, I don't feel any more of a connection with my Colombian side compared to my Canadian, however I am an American. Have Americans oppressed other races and cultures? Yes. Does that mean that all Americans are insensitive or uncaring to real hardships or even racism? No, not at all. To think that all people who take part in positive or sensitive cultural appropriation are ignorant or disrespecting a race, culture, or religious attitude, only increases the a unneeded power struggle between each other. 

I can't say I've never given a second thought to how my family's background has affected me, because it has, just as each of our upbringing and backgrounds affect all of us, and I know it. Differences were the norm. Did these childhood friends from other cultural backgrounds experience the same positive and/or negative experiences as I did as a child? No, many of their experiences might have been harder. Are all of our lives the same, as individuals or even races, experiencing the same past, present, and future hardships? No. Do other groups of people experience more difficulties than others? Yes. Are there still issues of racism on this earth? Yes. Is that okay? Absolutely not. Can we argue whose past trials have been more difficult? Yes, but with no end. We need to stop pulling out a race card or (many times misused) cultural appropriation term at every moment. Jumping quick at a moments reaction because of how we were taught to think and because we were raised to feel like we are supposed to be offended, is not actually forward or progressive thinking, but instead creates a larger, negative gap between our cultures. 

There's no denying that symbols play a huge role in our different cultural lives. However, does that mean that sharing or using a symbol from another's culture is insensitive, oppressing, or lacking in cultural awareness? No. It can be, but it most circumstances that's not the case. Granted, I can't speak for everyone, nor would I want to, but I think it's safe to say that most people choosing to take part in, explore, dress, or display items from another culture are not doing it from a malicious, disrespectful, uneducated place. We put each other and ourselves in stereotypes by symbols and most prominent characteristics. Is all stereotyping bad? Its subjective of course, but it's pretty clear that in an age where you can YouTube or google "what (insert any cultural or social group) say" and find hundreds of videos, threads, and memes of people making light of their own personal boxes, stereotyping doesn't always have to be an issue of insensitivity. Can stereotyping hurt others? Absolutely. THIS is a perfect example of how in a world of differences we need to not only be sensitive to stereotypes that can cause racial, social, cultural, physical, etc defamation or harm, but also celebrate each others differences.

I like to call the term "cultural appropriation" a trend, not because it's a new idea, rather because there has been an undeniable boom in the term's popularity over the last year or so. We as people in this world have been borrowing or taking ideas from each others cultures for as long as we have existed. At some recent point another we stopped looking at the agreed blending of cultures as a positive melting pot and started enforcing the forever negative-sounding term "cultural appropriation" on every individual who chooses to wear, own, display, or enjoy an item from a culture other than their own. Is cultural appropriation bad? Not necessarily. Can cultural appropriation be negative? Yes, absolutely when it's lacking respect. Who decides what is respectful and what is not? There is no definitive answer to the question. It's subjective. No two individuals, not even in similar groups or families will ever share the same exact idea of what defines what is respectful and not. We were taught and trained to think that certain things are right or wrong and we have lost the ability to step back and really address what is in front of us and whether it is truly an issue or something to be offended by. In a generation that claims to be so progressive in its thinking, we should be able to understand how misuse of the term cultural appropriation and pulling out a race or insensitivity card at every first glance is actually detrimental to the progress of celebrating each others differences.

I want my daughter to not only know that there is right and wrong in this world, but I want her to look at the world with an unpolluted mind and outlook. I want her to know of past hardships and to work on diminishing current ones, while knowing she herself was never the cause of pain to others. I want her to see and find the beauty in front of her. I don't want her to  see cultural differences as a divide. Rather, I want her to recognize differences and be able to adopt them as her own, admire, and enjoy. I want her to love our home-wares, decor, and attire from other countries and cultures-- everything from past treasures from her Colombian great grandmother, to Indian tapestries, dolls from Ecuador and Guatemala, dresses from Mexico, Peru, India. I want her to borrow my Mayan made necklaces, or be able to wear braids or dreads in her hair, bindis on her head, and other culturally diverse (traditional and non) pieces and colors without ever having to worry of judgement. This world is small and shrinking and we need to be able to move past instilled lessons. It's no longer a matter of comparing races and cultures, it's about loving our differences as races, cultures, religions, social groups, and as individuals. Where there is respect and a kind and open heart, beauty can be found and she will know that.


*this post is in reference to an image I posted two days ago, on my instagram account. I've made my points to opposing comments. There was no mockery involved. No where did I intend to hurt others, and I'm sorry to those I have offended. I understand all sides of my decision, but I do not regret my costume choice. 

127 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. My last comment got submitted without the text, so sorry if this is repetitive...

    The thing it, a lot of native americans DO find it offensive. War bonnets ("headdresses") are a sacred religious item to many tribes. Wearing one is not appreciating it. Nobody gets to tell a minority group how they should feel about a power-holding group using their sacred items. When somebody reaches out and says "Here is why this is upsetting to my group, here is how we feel," anything other than "I'm sorry I caused offense, I will make sure not to do it again" is inappropriate.

    I say this with no judgement or contempt in my heart. I don't for one second think that you're anything other than a wonderful person who wants to share the world with your daughter. I've been following your story from the beginning. However, this whole thing has been a bit awkward. This isn't just you using a stereotype for a costume, it is taking and misusing a religious and sacred item.

    I'm one of the most prideful people around (the reason I don't have a blog, haha), so I understand trying to defend yourself. However, this isn't a small group of people getting upset about a TV character. Countless people from every tribe band together to discuss why appropriations hurt them. They are unified. Please, do some research into it...again, we don't get to tell oppressed people how they should feel.

    Here is a wonderful article...I'm sure this will get buried in the trenches of comments of fellow "cowboy and indian" costume supporters, but I urge you to read it and consider using this experience as an opportunity to educate your readers and rectify the situation.

    http://nativeappropriations.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-a-hipster-headdress.html

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    1. To your first paragraph:
      This is my problem, seeing the situation as a "minority group" vs a "power holding group" we need to stop looking at groups as more hurt, more oppressed, having more right to feel a certain way. We need to start (at least I think anyway). Yes, Native Americans have struggled through hard times and currently still do, no one is denying that--- it's awful, I cant imagine it, but like I said, we (EVERYONE) need to be able to move forward, because there are only bigger divisions being drawn this other way.

      I only made the reference to the TV character because it was one of the more recent mainstream characters I could give an example of in relation to my family being Colombian. It's not the best example, but it works okay.

      I think we can both agree that not one person or group of people should be making decisions for any other person or group. I can't tell someone to not feel offended by every or any choice I make. No matter what an issue is, someone will ALWAYS feel offended. I have made my apologies to those who I have offended.

      What this post is not: a list of reasons why everyone should have a free card to wear what they want, when they want for halloween or whenever.

      What this post is: reasons why we should stop fighting with each other over who has the upper ground. And an idea on the positive things that can happen in our world if we take a moment and reflect on how things actually makes us feel vs how we are taught to think.

      Thanks for the link, I'm sure it will be of interest to some people.

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    2. There are plenty of "grey areas" of appropriation where the community as a whole hasn't spoken out; dreadlocks, bindis, yin yangs, etc. The same is not true of war bonnets. They are sacred regalia. Most NAs don't even achieve the privilege of wearing them.

      I don't think we do agree. When you are not a member of an ethnic group, you do not get to use bits and pieces of their culture and then say "difference of opinion" when they explain why it is offensive.

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    3. I want to challenge what you said about moving forward, esp. because right after this, you say that no one should be able to make decisions for any other group. When you ask people who are vocal against past and current struggles, i think you should consider why it may be easier and more positive for you to desire to leave these differences behind and move forward than it is for others. And just one more thing... I am surprisedthat you keep bringing up the point that "people will find a reason to be offended at anything." It's true that people online have arguments about silly things or about political correctness that take arbitrary and impersonal offense.... And i definitely see how old it would feel to constantly be critiqued online for your personal life/parenting/relational/whatever choices, especially when you're just tryna do you/not hurt anyone else. But from the responses this costume has gotten (all of them), i'm surprised that you don't see the weight of your statements... This isn't just some random problem that people are begging to approach "negatively..."

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    4. Kayla, I totally agree, thanks for being brave enough to say what you did.

      Drea, I think that saying "minority group" and "power holding group" are really important terms and they help us understand privilege and power dynamics when describing a group who benefits from systemic racism and power structures (ie; a government created by white colonialists that is still dominated by educated white men, a system created by a particular group to serve a particular group). These terms are really important to help us remember that we should acknowledge the past and respect those who have been hurt by it. I don't think those terms create gaps and separation because 1) we can belong to both a minority group and a power holding group depending on the context and situation and 2) because most people will not feel like they can move forward as a people or a culture if they feel that the pain of their ancestors has not been acknowledged or understood. Rather than cause separation, having the vocabulary to have these conversations can lead to healing and positive change.

      The affect that a history of indigenous oppression has on a people IS ongoing and doesn't just stop because you are the 2nd or 22nd generation since colonisation/war/land theft happened to your people. People are disadvantaged and so are their children and their childrens' children. We don't all have to apologise or feel guilty for what our ancestors may have/have not done, but as individuals we can try to understand a people and do our best not to cause any more hurt.

      It's a really hard thing to get our heads around and I appreciate that you have begun this discussion. It's one we need to have. I do love your blog but have felt uncomfortable with the increased popularity of native american imagery and culture in recent years. I was sad to see it pop up here too. xxx

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    5. Drea I love your blog but I truly, truly disagree. Kayla and some of the ladies above bring up some great points and I truly hope you can read them, without being defensive, and understand the hurt and pain cultural appropriation causes.

      Because you chose to not be hurt when people mock columbians (which you already expressed that you don't necessarily identify as being as) does not mean other minorities cannot be (or do not have the right to be) offended.

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  3. Intent with this costume is irrelevant. To think that it's okay to take light in some of a culture most important ceremonial clothing is a big deal. Also the costume is a total caricature of an actual culture, which is so problematic in and of itself. When you as a non native person have the ability to pretend to participate more so than the actual natives, almost all of were forced to assimilate into white cultures, can you not see how wrong that is? The native peoples still struggle daily with racism and classism. You also say that you don't regret your costume choice makes this a total non apology. Just because you may agree with you, doesn't mean this isn't horribly offensive.

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    1. You're right, intent with the costume is irrelevant. This post is not about halloween and costumes. And this post isn't about non natives vs natives.

      Caricature: a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

      If that is what you see in the image, I am sorry.

      Thank you for your comment.

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    2. "Caricature: a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect. "

      Good point. I certainly didn't see that. And I don't see how native Americans are still be oppressed!! They have their own sovereign nations inside of America, they have casinos raking in billions. I can't see what more they could want...

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    3. Caricature: a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect.

      ---------------------------

      ^^Good point. Also, I don't see how NAmericans are being oppressed still today. They have sovereign nations inside an otherwise free, democratic country, as well as exclusive rights in many states to casinos raking them in billions. I just don't get it. I think it is sad how many groups in America decide to spend more energy and focus on their past suffering than their present living. :(

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    4. You've GOT to be kidding. Native Americans are one of the biggest groups that are oppressed today. And no they aren't focusing on their past suffering, the past plays a major part of their life today.

      Just wow.

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  4. Hell yes. I was so hoping you would write a post addressing the instagram picture. RIDICULOUS. I'm sorry, but that was truly, truly ridiculous. I could barely get through the comments.

    You didn't have to say anything, but what you wrote was well said, and clearly well thought out. Definitely one of my favorite posts you've written. What a lucky girl Marlowe is to have you as her mama and role model. She's going to grow up beautifully.

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  5. Hell yes. I was so hoping you would write a post addressing the instagram picture. RIDICULOUS. I'm sorry, but that was truly, truly ridiculous. I could barely get through the comments.

    You didn't have to say anything, but what you wrote was well said, and clearly well thought out. Definitely one of my favorite posts you've written. What a lucky girl Marlowe is to have you as her mama and role model. She's going to grow up beautifully.

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  6. Sorry, I don't buy it. It's not respectful to appropriate important cultural wardrobe items for dress-up on Halloween. It's important to recognize one's privilege and be respectful of other cultures, particularly those your culture has a history of disrespecting.

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  7. Thank you Drea for sharing your thoughts here. I value your opinions and candor and genuinely respect you for them. I agree with a lot of what you said, I love the fact that my home is an eclectic mix of art pieces and keepsakes from many different countries. I love the idea of adorning myself with authentic jewelry from various cultures. These things are good! And I agree, doing so celebrates our differences and bridges the gaps that exist between us. Where my opinion diverges, however, is that I don't think that is actually cultural appropriation. In my thinking, cultural appropriation occurs when we "pretend" to be someone of a different--and this is important---underrepresented minority culture that is fundamentally based on stereotypical, misinformed,and pejorative views formed by the dominate culture. Doing such isn't problematic because it may be hurtful or offensive to someone(s), but because it perpetuates myths and misinformation (that is often negative) within the dominate culture. Now I know that this sounds very academic, but I didn't form this opinion because of the time I spent in University or because I read a progressive leaning blog, this view was formed by spending years teaching in the inner city and working with children and families of some of the most overlooked and stereotyped populations in our country. It was there that I realized that racism and classism are still very much alive. Not in the obvious ways it once was, but in the systemic way in which our society purposefully suppresses certain individuals and cultures and rewards others. It was both shocking and illuminating and made me sensitive to the way in which I personally treat different peoples and behave. In the years I spent teaching in Chicago, I realized it wasn't enough to be not racist, but as someone that is firmly apart of dominate culture (middle class white women) it is my job to be ACTIVELY anti-racist,which implies action. This includes stepping up when there is a perceived injustice. I personally didn't speak up when I saw your halloween picture on Instagram, I didn't see any good coming from a quick interaction via social media, these type of things take good will and being face to face, but it did make me feel uncomfortable and it was a good reminder to myself why I choose not to dress up like that. Now here is where things get tricky, is having the response that I did make me judgmental? Perhaps. But, there are certain things that I have worked hard to understand in myself and believe in many circumstances it is my duty to speak up. That being said, it would be from a place of humility and care not judgement or ridicule. Can I feel uncomfortable about your costume and still value you as a person and respect you as an individual? Absolutely. We all live our truths that best can and it is clear from the limited exposure that I have had into your life and thinking that you are a thoughtful, kind, hardworking, compassionate individual. My disagreement with this one thing doesn't completely color you one way or another in my mind. Things aren't black and white and us humans dwell in the grey area more often than not. And so, I guess that's what I would like to be taken from this situation most, not whether one persons opinion is more valid than another,but that we can disagree and still respect and celebrate each other. That I can be respectful when I disagree and that the response I receive back can be equally so. Because that seems just as big a part of it as anything else. Thanks for sharing and living your truth.

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    1. Ah, this response was so refreshing. Thank you, Eileen. I hope others take the time to read this post, because many of your points are very true.

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    2. Ms. Eileen, please go into politics.

      Our world lacks civility. This debate, from all sides, is proof.

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  8. Thank you Drea, SO so much for this. Your words here are strong, yet respectful & passionate and I applaud you for standing up!
    I have received so much hate in the past for letting my son wear an Indian costume (like yours) last year. I was so shocked at the hateful comments posted on a picture of my smiling 8 yr old. (I've since stopped posting personal photos on my Tumblr)
    I grew up in Old Town, San Diego. My best friends were Mexican, I loved their homes, food, and family. Even though my skin is white, my hair is blonde, I feel more strong cultural ties to the Mexican culture I grew up in then my actual Italian/Polish heritage. I grew up attending Dia de los Muertos celebrations. when I dressed up in Day of the Dead makeup & dress, I was blasted (again, on Tumbr) for Cultural Appropriation. I was socked, I was like, This IS mt culture!

    Anyways, that was a little run on, but, I just wanted to say Thank You! xo

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    1. Well the internet is where people tend to unleash on others, right? 99.9% of the time someone who says something on the internet attacking someone, wouldn't say it to their face. I'm sorry you received hate in any form. Hate and attacks is never the answer.

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  9. Ugh so I saw all of the comments posted on your IG and wanted to say so so much more, but I know you were dealing with a whole kind of firestorm there. But this post is great. I mean honestly, I didn't think there was anything offensive about how you dressed. I mean, realistically, if we're going to hold these people true to what they believe, then we should also be giving grief to everyone who dresses up as a geisha because we as Americans persecuted them during WWII in this country. Americans brought them to internment camps and held them and forced them to do labor and yes, many died. But I don't see a lot of outrage in regard to those costumes. Realistically, what it comes down to is people need to understand that there was nothing mocking in what you did, or in most things people do on Halloween. Yes, there are blatantly offensive costumes (hello, Trayvon Martin costumes), and those we can agree on, but I don't believe yours was one of them. Anywho, thank you for the great post and the insight into your background and this new trend. It's quite interesting to learn about.

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    1. It's true. It can't be one cultural costume is better or more-okay than another, just like it can't be who has held more hardships over another. We're all individuals and we're all human. It all has to be fair, all the way around.

      Thank you for your comment.

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  10. I recommend this blog post for a Native POV on Halloween: http://nativeappropriations.com/2013/10/open-letter-to-the-pocahotties-the-annotated-version.html#more-1789

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    1. I do not have time to check the link right now, but by the title alone, I was not dressed as "pocahottie" or some demeaning version of a Native American or any demeaning version of a human-being.

      Thank you for your opinion.

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    2. I didn't offer my opinion, just an opportunity for you to read the opinion of a well-spoken Tribal member who has taken the time to explain why cultural appropriation is hurtful to her.
      Perhaps if you don't identify with the title of her blog spot, the salutation of her open letter will resonate with you: "Dear Person that decided to dress up as an Indian for Halloween." I'm not sure that the level of hottie-ness of a costume correlates to how demeaning it is.
      It's great that there are Tribal members who are not offended when versions of ceremonial regalia are used as costumes, but my opinion is that we should take those who are offended just as seriously.

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  11. I agree completely. So nice to see someone approach a controversial topic with beauty and respect.

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  12. i absolutely love this. it's so inspiring to see such thoughtful, well-written content on your blog. thanks for the afternoon brain boost! xo

    www.tinyvictoriesblog.blogspot.com

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  13. A very thoughtfully written piece, well done! I saw your instagram photo and was shocked to read that so many people found fault with it. How many geishas and ninjas and eskimos and other cultural halloween costumes have we all seen? I'm sure none of them were making fun of a race, to think so is a little absurd to me. Loved your costume and support you to the max. xo from Canada

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    1. Thank you!

      (Too cold for me, but I LOVE Canada)

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  14. I hope you've had a good day Drea regardless of the stream of a big war of words coming through to you. I've spent a while going through what it is said there on Instagram and found my voice among those trying not to be too sensitive over things. Good intentions will always be interpreted the many different ways no matter how careful we'll be in getting things right but really is it a time and place to have a go at you because of a simple outfit? Halloween outfit?

    I've had a pleasure to get to know you via this nook of the internet and am far from judging you this way, through your fun outfit choices. I think there are things meant for fun and serious matters which you covered here not once. And this matters more. For me anyway. xxxxx

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    1. Yes, thank you very much, Eli!

      I'm glad you're here. I always love and appreciate your comments!

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  15. I love your costume. People will be offended over the most bizarre of things. Hello? is this real life people?! Your blog is kind of a big deal and they will pick on you because of it. Live life and continue being a rockstar of a mama.

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    1. Oh yes, there is good and bad with a public and very open space. But in the end, it's worth it (for me anyway).

      Thank you!

      ;)

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    2. "People will be offended over the most bizarre of things. Hello? is this real life people?!"

      Your privilege (and ignorance) runneths over.

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  16. I appreciate that there is a conversation about this, but as a person of native decent, dressing up as stereotypical "Indian" for Halloween IS offensive to me. I love that people appreciate my culture. I appreciate and love my culture, but culture is not a costume.

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    1. You're right, culture is not a costume. But the thing is, people make anything and everything into a costume: celebrities, fictional characters, animals, concepts, cultures, ANYTHING.

      So what will be more progressive here...
      -saying that ONE culture is not okay to make into a costume, because one culture should have more respect than another
      -saying that ALL cultures are not okay to make into a costume, because each culture enclosed within its own
      -or saying that we all have the same rights as another and we are all equal as human beings?


      Either way, I'm sorry you found offense in my costume. Thank you for your comment.

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  17. I've followed your blog from the beginning but this is the first time I've ever commented - I had to. I'm so happy you wrote this - it's thought provoking and beautifully written (as always). Putting the time and effort like this into sticking up for your decision is admirable, I feel like a lot of people out there would be overwhelmed by such negative comments and fail to stand by their decision.

    It baffles me that people have brought the negativity from that instagram photo over to the comments of this post. As you said at the end of your post "I understand all sides of my decision, but I do not regret my costume choice" - you are obviously content with your decision after taking all the comments into consideration, so I can't understand why people are still commenting on here, telling you to do more research or telling you your decision was wrong. There is any wrong or right when it comes to a situation like this - some people will love it, some will hate it, that needs to be accepted, and your post acknowledges that. If anything, you are RIGHT because you acknowledge that everyone feels differently, and you can't make everyone happy all the time. How boring would the world be if everyone had the same opinion on absolutely everything? Just as we should embrace different cultures, we should embrace and acknowledge different thoughts and opinions - to an extent. A little debate between opposing ideas is fine, and can be thought provoking and productive, but when someone still stands by their own decision after taking the other side of the argument into consideration (as you clearly have), then people need to accept that, and move on.

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    1. Thank you so much, Katie. I keep typing things out and erasing them, I think it's best if I just say thank you for your kind words and--- I totally agree :)

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  18. You are just lovely. Well-rounded, well-spoken, and real. I (and many, many others) love the bits of your life and insight that you share. xoxo

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  19. Kayla took the words right out of my mouth! well said friend! As a native american this isn't cute or justified to me. I've been following you from the get go but today was my last read of yours. Awesome house though!

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    1. This post isn't about being "cute" or "justified". Either way, I'm sorry if you found offense in my costume.

      I like my house too :)
      &Thank you for your comment.

      Delete
  20. I'm thankful for your thoughts here in blog form, especially compared to the instagram comments/replies. It's inspiring that you as a respected blogger (I have been an avid reader for a long time) are wanting to have thoughtful conversations on this form instead of putting all your thoughts into the binary and silly groups that formed on the gram (because this conversation is soooo much more than just "i have been taught to see a problem with that/i enter this with a negative perception" versus "i don't take halloween so seriously, chill out."

    I'm happy for the discussion that this has elicited amongst your readers and amongst those who have picked up on the story from other bloggers about similar issues. Because even within the groups we identify as, there are going to be so many interpretations of this costume, some offended, some flattered, some saddened, some just find it fun and don't see a problem with it, the list of opinions goes on, as we can see. I actually think the "race card" and "racial appropriation" conversations aren't happening /enough/, and I couldn't be happier that these conversations are happening right now, even if some things I hear or read make me bummed out, because we can only /truly/ connect, and truly create a socially loving environment we want for ourselves and our children, if we have these difficult conversations with each other about what it means to share, imitate, and/or understand one another's backgrounds and what values we hold sacred. People should not be policed for their choices, but we should all use our voices to engage in open and honest affirmations and critiques. It's not about being "taught how to think" in many of the cases I've seen on this convo... it's about using our voices as a way to teach and to share our interpretations of the issue in order to stand for what we each believe in, and in some instances, to try and point out the flaws some of us see in others' actions.

    So much more to say about this, but instead, I'm going to keep having these conversations (that have been happening anyway as long as I can remember) with natives and non-natives i know. this is a great video to help those of us (me include) who have our critiques, and those who feel upset with these costumes being critiqued.

    "being mindful of our personal and common imperfections is what allows us to be good to ourselves and good to each other." Jay Smooth, "how i learned to stop worrying and love discussing race"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbdxeFcQtaU

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    1. When I woke up this morning, I wasn't sure if I wanted to write a post or not on the thoughts in my head. However, as soon as comments started coming in to my photo (on instagram) I knew I wanted to leave the photo up. The tread became much more than a "is this/isnt this okay for halloween" forum.

      I personally don't like to discuss "touchy" subjects on my blog, but in the end of this, I'm happy it's all come up.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Delete
  21. Being/becoming offended is a choice we make as human beings. It has nothing to do with race it has to do with someone deciding that at that moment they want to be pissed over something. Just the same as if someone tells me I'm short or tall, thick or thin, light skinned or dark skinned. I am what I am, someone pointing it out shouldn't offend me. "Yes, you are right. I am short and thick with white skin. You are very observant". If one chooses to be offended by another ones dressing like whatever then by God go ahead. For them I feel sad, their mind must be a sad place to live in. I am Native American, Irish, and German. But that doesn't define me, that's just where "my people" lived and what they looked like or spoke like. We're all the same. We're all human. I think you look beautiful and I'm glad you and your husband had a wonderful night.

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    1. Yes yes yes. We need more of this.

      Thank you.

      Delete
  22. All you're doing is asking and answering obvious questions in quick succession. Why don't you do a little research and try broadening your perspective before you write such a vapid and shallow post that defends yourself and your (extremely offensive) costume. The only thing this blog post did was prove to the world that you are incapable of growth. Congrats.

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  23. You need to check your privilege. When you as an outsider of a culture get to pick and choose aspects of a culture that you like and wear those things, you are also able to take these things off and not suffer whatever negative associations society has attributed to the people who created those symbols. That is cultural appropriation. That is privilege. And native culture is not homogenous, yet you treat it as such.

    From the Native Appropriations blog: "You walk through life everyday never having the fear of someone mis-representing your people and your culture. You don’t have to worry about the vast majority of your people living in poverty, struggling with alcoholism, domestic violence, hunger, and unemployment caused by 500+ years of colonialism and federal policies aimed at erasing your existence. You don’t walk through life everyday feeling invisible, because the only images the public sees of you are fictionalized stereotypes that don’t represent who you are at all. You don’t know what it’s like to care about something so deeply and know at your core that it’s so wrong, and have others in positions of power dismiss you like you’re some sort of over-sensitive freak."

    I am embarrassed for you. You might not be a racist, insensitive, close-minded, uneducated jerk, but you're certainly presenting yourself that way. And your insistence on posting your deeply offensive pictures all over the internet only solidifies that.

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    1. You've missed my point and are choosing to only see what you want to see. You can do this, you have every right.

      I'm sorry you find offense in a photo/my costume.

      Thank you for your opinion.

      Delete
  24. "This is my problem, seeing the situation as a "minority group" vs a "power holding group" we need to stop looking at groups as more hurt, more oppressed, having more right to feel a certain way."

    But there ARE groups in our society that are more hurt and oppressed than others. Ignoring the hurtful and oppressive aspects of our society do not somehow make them disappear.

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  25. I feel compelled to respond to your post because we had some back and forth conversation regarding your image on instagram.

    I think you bring up a lot of good points, and I agree, there are a lot of beautiful things I see in all the different cultures around the world. I love to be inspired by them, and would love to incorporate influences from other cultures into my style, when I thought appropriate. I personally don't know where the line is to what is or isn't offensive in every culture, and probably never will. I guess as I grow older and learn more I will learn about what is and isn't appropriate in each circumstance, which is why I always approach with extreme caution. I have worn bindis somewhat recently. I went to India 10 years ago, and was given them by women on the beach, asked to wear them, loved them, and brought a lot back home with me. Whenever I want to relive my amazing time there I will put one on. No one has personally told me they found this offensive, but if they did I would sincerely apologize and try to express to them my mistake was in my unknowing of the offense I had taken.

    I stated before, I know you are not a racist and that your intentions were not to hurt anyone, or a group of people. At the same time, I 100% disagree with cultural appropriation being a trend. Maybe now it is becoming a bit more prominent and mainstream because of the internet, and because people can learn a little more about a culture at the click of a link. People dress like Native Americans every Halloween, but not every one of those people live in an area where there is a large Native American culture. Thanks to the internet, you are reaching people around the globe (and especially around our vast country), who may be able to either relate or be offended by whatever it is you say or put on to wear.

    While I do have some Native American roots, it is a small percentage, and I unfortunately have very little knowledge on my background in that respect. I did however grow up in the Pacific North West, where there is a very large Native American population. As a child my parents took us to many events and ceremonies that they had invited the public (non tribe members) to. I learned quite a bit about the Native American culture in Western Washington. I learned that the dress of the people is something sacred, almost exclusively worn for ceremonial events. Knowing even a little history of what Native Americans in our country have suffered through (regardless of your background, as a non Native American), and knowing how sacred their dress is, I can fully see how it can be taken as offensive, and why seeing you dressed this way was so shocking to me.

    At the end of the day, even if you only offended a few select individuals in a culture, you can't deny that it is significant, or important, or try to tell them to pull up their big girl (or boy) panties and swallow their pride. By putting on this outfit, you have decided to impersonate a culture, whether or not that is your intention.

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  26. Drea,
    This saddens me so much to read these over exaggerated comments. I think you are such a strong and well spoken individual and know that you meant no obvious offense by wearing an indian costume. I honestly until the other day when your instagram was being blown up had no idea people would be in such an outrage over somebody dressing up as an Indian. After reading some very thought provoking comments I can understand that it would offend people and that's their choice but the amount of hate these comments hold just saddens me so. Bravo to you for being able to withstand it, I for one would be balling my eyes out. Like you and others have said, people are always going to find something to hate on and I don't know about you but I was told growing up that if you didn't have something nice to say than don't say it at all. There's a way to kindly express your disagreement with your costume of choice and it makes me happy that some people have achieved that. As for the others, I'm sorry they found offense to the costume but please take the negativity elsewhere.

    P.S. I dressed as an Indian for high school one year so you're not alone. I will be more conscious of my costume choices from here on out though.

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    1. 'i'm sorry you were offended but don't be negative"

      that just sounds backwards.

      But good for you for being more conscious of your costume choices going forward!

      Delete
  27. I get your point, but its completely lost when you chose to center a dialogue/defense around a halloween costume interpretation of a Native American. Surely you can see how this would be sensitive, whether you agree or not. Grace would have been to step off the soapbox and say, "yea, i can see why that would offend someone. my bad." but instead i just read what amounted to a rant (full of world culture Phd, motherhood, and "im above it so it doesnt count shite") regarding a photo of your interpretation of an "injun" and thurston howell III.
    sure, you cant please all, but poor taste is more offensive than bad dialogue.

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  28. I know exactly how this feels. As a young woman born and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico, I do receive plenty of offensive comments that maybe people don't tend to do make it that way. I went all the way to the state of Rhode Island to receive my college education. My roommates were from NJ and MA. Aside from my roommates, whoever I met thought I lived in a deserted island, didn't understand why I have the privileges of having US Citizenship and mostly astonished as to why my English was so well. I got tired of the stupid questions and comments since I thought be surrounded by smart people working towards a greater education. Nowadays, I work at a hotel back in Puerto Rico. Everyday I encounter people from all over the world but I am embarrassed to say that my fellow American tourist are the ones that once again give the ignorant and racist comments. You should see their faces when I tell them we have a CVS or Walmart. I can't even tell you how many times I've been asked as to why my English is better than my coworkers or anybody else they meet. So, no matter the race, culture, or religion this is an on going issue and sad to say, I'm ready to face it for the rest of my life.
    By the way, I loved your costume.

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  29. This world is small and shrinking and we need to be able to move past instilled lessons. It's no longer a matter of comparing races and cultures, it's about loving our differences as races, cultures, religions, social groups, and as individuals. Where there is respect and a kind and open heart, beauty can be found and she will know that.

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  30. I remember a long time ago, in my early twenties, I was pretty heavy into the punk rock scene. And there was this one look I'd always loved - black combat boots with white laces - but had always been afraid to wear because of what it had come to signify ("white power"). But I really really loved the look, and I knew some punks who were trying to "take it back". So finally I said "Fuck it, *I* know I'm not racist and I'm going to wear whatever I like!" And I went and bought some white laces for my combat boots.

    I wore them downtown. And I will never, NEVER forget the look in the eyes of that 8 year old black girl, when she saw my boots, and looked up a me. It wasn't anger or "over-sensitivity" or offense. It was just so much . . . *hurt*. And I never wore them again.

    People of privilege do not get to tell a minority group what they are or aren't allowed to be hurt by. I do hope you'll reconsider your thoughts on this, Drea

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  31. Wow! I cannot believe the garbage going on in the world today. I do understand people being offended by misrepresentations of their culture, and so many other things, but seriously I am so over some of the hot air going around. I realize a lot of people are going to read my comment & think I'm insensitive/racist/whateverlabeltheyprefer. Wikipedia isn't a great resource for research but I think some people would do well to read their article on Cultural Appropriation, including "Michael Lazarus, a Native American, in his essay Anti-racist Measures Take Culture Away From Sports published by the Lowell Observer writes that the use of an ethnic symbol by a sports team is a progressive, liberal act that can be used by a culture to embrace history rather than hide from it."

    So many places are a MELTING POT of different cultures, as you illustrated with your own ancestry. Why is it offensive for me to adopt some of a different culture? Example: I like tamales. We eat them all the time, but we aren't Hispanic. Is it offensive for me to like tamales if I'm not Hispanic? Is it offensive for me to use some Spanish words when talking with the Mexican family selling me those tamales? Is it offensive for me to help my one year old reply "Hola!" to that family when they say it to him? I certainly don't think so. And I don't think they find it offensive either.

    Yes, some bad stuff has happened in the history of the world and the US. And if people pay attention, some seriously bad stuff is still happening. I DO NOT see the problem with celebrating a part of a culture that I was not born into. I get that a drunken slutty Pocahontas who has no idea of any Native American culture would be offensive. But how about a 10 year old in an appropriate dress to portray her? Because I dressed up as Pocahontas after reading her real story (not the Disney version) & being inspired by her strength. And I would hope that my parents would have had the backbone to yell back at someone dumb enough to tell my 10 year old self that I was being offensive/inappropriate. Because that's garbage. And I'm sure someone will say that's because I'm in a position of privilege. I read the Open Letter to the Pocahotties at nativeappropriations.com & I still don't get how every Native American costume is offensive. I also read through some of her other posts on that blog and am only left with the feeling that I as a white woman with no Native heritage would be offending a large group of Natives by wearing any Native made jewelry or having Native made artwork in my home. But as some of the commenters on her blog have pointed out she doesn't make it clear what IS okay, only what is not okay. So I wouldn't bother reading anything there. I'm sure that's going to be attributed to my place of "privilege". And because of that, the next time I am passing through a nearby reservation, where I know there is a jewelry shop, I am going to stop in and ask the lady who runs it if it offends her that I, a white woman, buy and wear some of the jewelry she, a Native American, has made. I know there have been many awful things done to Native Americans, but I agree with what you said (in response to an earlier comment) about us moving forward as a society (a society with descendants of the oppressed & abused, descendants of those that did oppressing & abuse, descendants of those that stood by while others were oppressed & abused, and descendants of those who were in different parts of the world at the time).

    Drea I am so glad you are YOU. Thank you for writing this, for sharing it, for taking the time to read and respond to comments(Even the dumb ones. Yup I said it, some people are dumb). Thanks for being real and thanks for reminding me that even with all the bad stuff going on in the world, there are other sane people.

    ~B

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  32. I absolutely agree with the statement that being offended is a choice. As is happiness. My best friend (who is half arabian) tends to be offended by things I just don´t understand. We are having a hard time to agree on disagreeing in that department, but I hope we will work it out. It´s about respect after all, even if you have to respect that the others opinion isn´t the same as your own.
    I like decorating my home with items from all over the world, even if I haven´t been to all of these places myself...;-)
    Also, I would never ever be offended by these strange ideas of Americans playing German Oktoberfest and stuff...it´s weird, but alas...;-))

    xoxo Trine


    Oh wait, as I just clicked the preview for this entry I realised I have a dreamcatcher as my google profile picture...I hope I don´t offend anyone whith that...

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    1. I hope you guys work it out too, I'm sure you will. My Nepali friend and I have argued a lot about differences and gone for months at a time not speaking (not over cultural stuff---just differences) and always come back to each other. In the end, screw the differences, it's a positive head that works. Thank you for your comment.

      Delete
  33. I feel like intention gets lost in the conversation. Is Vogue racist for appropriating cultural clothing for photoshoots? Honestly, I have no idea. But I'm guessing the intention is not to make people angry. HOWEVER, I also see the point of the commenter above me that it's easy to pick and choose the aspects of another culture you feel are cute or quaint or fun or whatever and ignore the context in which those developed. That's probably the most offensive thing about appropriation.

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  34. (That said, I don't personally find anything wrong with wearing bits and pieces from different cultures, etc., even for a Halloween...)

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  35. i am new to your blog and have so been enjoying it.

    you are wonderful.

    mylettchronicals

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    1. Hello teeny! Welcome and thank you so much!

      Delete
  36. I've been a long time reader and just wanted to say how gracefully this was written. You're lovely and I applaud you for taking this negativity and attempting to educate your readers. It's obvious you have a passion for life and cultures so keep doing what you're doing xxx

    “..Acts of appropriation are part of the process by which we make ourselves. Appropriating - taking something for one’s own use - need not be synonymous with exploitation. This is especially true of cultural appropriation. The “use” one makes of what is appropriated is the crucial factor.” ― Bell Hooks, Art on My Mind: Visual Politics


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  37. drea- this conversation is really interesting and i'm glad you brought it up. i've appreciated the opportunity to read so many opinions on the issue of cultural appropriation.

    that being said, i can't get comfortable with the position you're taking on this. it sounds like you are a little defensive about being called out, and i don't blame you, because it is so uncomfortable to be called out publicly like this. it takes a big person to step up and then talk about it in that situation. however, it also takes a lot of privilege to dismiss cultural appropriation as a trend and to say we need to "move on" from acknowledging the systemic oppression that is still so so prevalent in our culture.

    i've really enjoyed reading your blog for the past few years, but i feel that with this post i lost a bit of basic respect for you, so i won't be reading any more. i hope that with time and distance you'll be able to go back and read some of the links that have been posted here and give your self a chance to grow some.

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    1. I think this post has been quite the opposite of defense. And I never said cultural appropriation was a trend or we should dismiss oppression. Feel free to re-read the post or dismiss. Thank you for your opinion.

      Delete
    2. You, in fact, DID say that it is a trend.
      This is a direct quote from one of your instagram comments: "...I'm very well of what cultural appropriation is, after all it has been a big 'trend' the last two years or so." It only stuck out to me because it seemed so dismissive of the issue.
      I don't believe that you had any ill intent with this costume, but that still doesn't make it ok. And your "apology" to those you offended is negated by the statement you have no regrets. I usually love your blog, but then something like this happens and you do get so defensive and entitled. I know one little reader will not make a difference to you, but I'm sure I'm not the only one you've now lost.

      Delete
    3. if you read the comment (or maybe two?) directly under it, then you see that I edited for clarity-- because just like in my post, I don't think it's a trend. I'll assume you missed that--- and didn't just see what you wanted to see. Thanks for your opinion. Take care.

      Delete
  38. Um, I tried to comment - don't think it went through
    I just want to say that all of this PC stuff is really divide and conquer.
    We are individuals defined by whats is inside and our deeds and actions.
    The native americans had a raw deal and I will never know what it was like for them, BUT rather than bash a lady who had NO ill intent, go out and do something positive for them. There are so many injustices happening in the world right now, but all you guys want to do is argue over some misunderstanding. I live in a country where infants are raped and murdered for 'magic' on a daily basis. So this sounds really petty to me.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Um, I tried to comment - don't think it went through
    I just want to say that all of this PC stuff is really divide and conquer.
    We are individuals defined by whats is inside and our deeds and actions.
    The native americans had a raw deal and I will never know what it was like for them, BUT rather than bash a lady who had NO ill intent, go out and do something positive for them. There are so many injustices happening in the world right now, but all you guys want to do is argue over some misunderstanding. I live in a country where infants are raped and murdered for 'magic' on a daily basis. So this sounds really petty to me.

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  40. Lucky Marlowe,
    She is growing up to be a beautiful human being... and I also hope... one with sense of humor that's is all we need besides LOVE!
    great blog, great costume, grat kiddo!
    lots of love, dp.

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  41. Lucky Marlowe, she will grow up to be a beautiful human being! And I also hope, one with some sense of humor ! - all we need besides love -
    lots of love , dp.

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    1. Thank you, I think she will too :)

      Delete
  42. Beautifully said. I am so sorry that people in this world find such offense in every corner of the world, refusing to be happy or allow others to be happy. On a blog and IG feed where the pictures taken are drenched in light, some people can only see the darkness. Such a sad world this must be for them...

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    1. Thank you. Honestly, in the end, I'm happy with all of it. I think it's a good topic of conversation. But you'e right, It is unfortunate for some people to only look for the bad in things--- I feel bad, happy people don't do those things.

      Delete
    2. Offensive pictures drenched in light does not make them any less offensive. It's not a sad world for the offended, it's a sad world that the offenders don't give a shit.

      Delete
  43. I have an idea for next year's costume for you, how about a Jew? Another cultural group with decades of persecution.

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    1. I'm not sure you read the post, but regardless, thank you for your comment.

      Delete
  44. Drea, this post has shown an immaturity that I wasn't aware of. We are all human and sometimes when I think things are unreasonable in our society, I want to defend my position.

    But I try to live by the rule that when you know better, you do better. Finding out that you offended even ONE person should be enough.

    The apology at the end of this lengthy defensive explanation sounds trite in comparison.

    I am one of your lost readers.

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    1. My post wasn't in defense of a costume---- that's pretty clear when you read the post. I only added an asterisk at the end so that readers who may not follow me on instagram wouldn't be completely in the dark. I wanted to keep it open and not like some one sided thought---This way they could view the picture, see the comments (good and bad) back and forth, and make up their own minds. Either way, take care. Thank you for your opinion.

      Delete
  45. I want to add, I wasn't offended by your costume. I am offended by your post.

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    1. Haha, okay. Thanks. Again, thanks for your opinion.

      Delete
  46. I'm going to try this again, in the hopes that you are the kind, thoughtful person I thought you to be. Because you see, Drea - I have always been a fan and a long-time reader of yours. If we're being honest here the 'Injun' costume is so popular because it's a trend. Are you denying that you wore it because it's trendy and cute? The term cultural appropriation not the trend here (which is very real and very much a problem today). Native everything is, and we all know it. Tribal print this, pendleton that, teepee playhouse OMG, fringed moccasins, SWOON and yes, headdress wearing hipsters and 'rockstars'. These are the trends. It really is so complicated when intelligent kind people like you take this stance, because you're voicing such a prideful RIGHT to do something that is hurtful, based on the justifications that your intent was never to do harm. You speak of wanting your daughter to feel free to make choices in life without feeling guilty about what's been done to other cultures in the past because she didn't have a hand in it.

    First of all, it's not all in the past, and secondly - it is also a good thing to teach our children compassion, whether or not we've/they've had a direct hand in wrong-doing. Respect for other people, (even if we don't agree) as well as oneself is necessary in this crazy world. Raising self-entitled children who can't respect lines isn't as forward thinking as so many think. Wearing dresses and having dolls made by another culture is not the same as donning a bindhi or a headdress. Lumping them all together is rather ridiculous. Purchasing handmade goods that are MADE to be purchased, by artisans who are actually of that culture is one thing. Wearing ceremonial and traditional items from another culture as a costume is not every person in society's personal and creative right. This is okay.

    Aside from all of this - your intent (and many others) is not the point. When a culture has such a heavy history leading right up to now, present day - of oppression, colonialism and genocide, based on racism and hatred, then yea - it's offensive if all of a sudden our culture is cool enough to mimic in costume for Halloween.

    Even when done as authentically as possible with a true appreciation for our culture. (And this is a very small percentage, unlike the large percentage that you are trying to describe it as being). When we can start to recognize that the oppression and colonization of Native peoples (and other cultures), is still very real today, we may be able to begin to see why we're just not there as a society yet. All rockin' out together at Halloween dressed up as one another. Also, we are so much more than the headdress, fringed gear. These images just perpetuate the Hollywood image of what a Native person is. The exact image/way of life/beliefs that gets made fun of, put down and disrespected the rest of the year and has a horrific history that continually gets swept under the rug and minimized.

    You and others may not like it, but many of us just aren't going to remain silent and idle any more.

    http://www.lepetitreve.ca/2013/10/if-you-were-wondering-about-how-to-appropriately-dress-up-as-a-native-for-halloween/

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    1. You've made a lot of (false) assumptions. I'm also under the impression you had your mind made up on what you wanted to say to me before you even read the post---because by your comment, it seems you've completely misread it or skipped over (pretty important) chunks of it. This post isn't about halloween--- this topic goes way beyond some dress-up holiday. This is about how all people need to be seen and treated as equals if we're going to get anywhere as human race. It might help to (re?)read the post without pre-judgment and with a clear head. Thanks for your opinion.

      Delete
    2. This comment is amazing and so eloquent. Thank you.

      Delete
  47. I agree with you. When we start saying that some people should get special treatment because of what had happened to them or their ancestors, we aren't treating people as equals. People have always been inspired by things from other cultures and countries. You don't have to know the original meaning of something to appreciate its beauty. Language, food, fashion, it's all influenced by elements from all over the world and I think that's natural. It's also natural for these things to change when they're integrated into a different culture and that doesn't hurt the original thing it came from.

    PS. I live in South Africa so this comment is mostly based on things that are happening and being discussed in my own country.

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  48. Great post drea. Anybody who follows your blog will know that you mean no offence in anything you post. Unfortunately there will always be who will take offence and no one can ever please everyone. Remember some people will only ever see the bad in anything, this says more about them than you.

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  49. I've been reading more of the comments and I want to add this. How do you decide who is privileged and who isn't? Or who is more privileged and less privileged? I live in South Africa and some people who come from previously disadvantaged groups are now more privileged than the average South African. Or are they? What makes someone privileged? Having a job and a good salary? Not living in a shack? Having an education? Growing up with parents who had an education? Having running water in your house? There are people from the same culture living in mansions and living in shacks with no running water or electricity. Who is privileged?

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    1. Exactly what I was trying to touch upon--- not throwing out things because you think they fit, but really taking in thoughts and thinking them through, without pollution. Thank you so much.

      Delete
    2. Ugh Natasha, we live in the United States.. it's VERY, very clear who the privileged group here is. And if you don't know, it's white middle/upper class Americans.

      Delete
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  53. I am a Christian yet live in a country that constantly mocks Christianity. I am in no way personally offended over it. My gut instinct says more people would be offended by Drea's costume than by someone dressing up as a nun (even a pregnant nun) or a priest...just as sacred...just as religious. Why is that? Personally...I think you are adorable, you have a great heart and I love your honesty. I am shocked and sorry you are getting so much grief over this!

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  54. Wow, Calis. What horrific sentiments. Perhaps leave the rational conversations to the adults, seeing as you can't contribute without ad hominem attacks.

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    1. Haha. I've been just letting all comments go through today... I didn't mean to post that one.... because well, exactly what you said.

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  55. I am a long-time reader who took offense to the Instagram picture and followed your advice to unfollow, which I did. I was surprised at the people who then cheered others who unfollowed. We are all allowed our opinions, and part of that empowerment is getting to voice them without people seeing others as attacking - both sides. Another link: http://www.upworthy.com/how-to-tell-if-your-halloween-costume-is-a-crime-against-common-sense-and-decency-for-the-reals?c=ufb1

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  56. As someone who is not native american, it's not your choice or right to decide what is offensive to native people. Wearing jewelry made in a different country =/= wearing a crude (in the sense that it's clearly not traditional) costume of culture that our country went to great lengths to wipe out through centuries of genocide and terror. You say you respect native culture and find it beautiful, yet clearly do not respect the voices of native people when they tell you that your costume is offensive. Maybe your appreciation would be better spent reading one of the many links people have sent you explaining why what you wore was offensive. Your reaction to this has perhaps been your most disappointing choice. You had so many well thought out, enlightening comments and a chance to learn, yet you still continue to defend your choice. I don't think there's anything more to be said that hasn't been said already, only to be met with a "thanks for your comment!" showing that you still do not grasp what was problematic with your costume. Your post was just a very long non-apology going to great lengths to defend drawing some paint on your face and wearing a headdress because you thought it looked cute.

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  57. Thanks, Drea! This post was great. You seem like SUCH an amazing person. The world needs more people like you - you look at everything so positively. Sorry you've had such hatred sent your way. Anyways, your post reminded me of something I read today...
    I've never met a Christian, Muslim, Atheist, Sikh, Seventh Day Adventist , Mormon, Liberal, Conservative, Anarchist, Socialist, Marxist, Communist, Libertarian, Hindu, Zionist, American, British, French, Icelandic, South African, German, Angolan. I've only met other humans, some of whom who have let themselves be divided by labels.
    Labels don't serve anyone, we should all know that by now. Furthermore, being told what's right or wrong for individuals to appreciate or try to connect with from other cultures, individuals, or different points in our histories just needs to stop. There's nothing wrong with appreciating aspects of others - being told that it's wrong is just silly.
    A wonderful past professor coined the term 'humans becoming,' meaning we all have our own histories that we move live in and move beyond. For me, I am not the French, Caucasian, Irish or Canadian that has been portrayed on TV or in history books. I live in this environment were people believe these things are true, but I know that I am much more than that - just as everyone is much more than any label they place on themselves or see on others.
    Sending you so much love!

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  58. This all follower leaving trend got me thinking. It's like they've missed the essence of what the topic is about. They liked it here, been coming for more yet one flaw and all is left off. Like they had a bad night so they'll never sleep again, didn't enjoy the meal so won't come back to the place again, easy to dismiss, quick to leave behind and yet talking about respect, humanity, reaching beyond one's point of view. Stay, give another chance, make the world a better place. Showing your back is throwing away everything you've been trying to fight for. We need more understanding, acceptance, unity not ignorance and false pride. x

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  59. I think a lot of bloggers get flack, because people are just jealous.
    Wow Calis, just wow...
    Most of the people on here with mean comments are actually doing a lot worse (even though I don't think Drea did anything wrong) as you want to hurt her, it seems. She did not intentionally hurt anyone. And, I don't really think any of you are hurt by what she did, just up on your high horse. You all love the drama.

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  60. Wow clearly a sensitive subject based on all the comments. I was born in an Apartheid South Africa, luckily my parents were anti apartheid so race never really entered into my thinking, my school allowed all race children to attend and so I didn't really even know apartheid existed till we studied it in school. South Africa is very proud of the fact that we are a rainbow nation, I've grasped a fairly simple understanding of this over the years- I am french and English by blood but I AM 100% a South African, which means I can love all my friench herritage but proudly sing about being an African, that I AM an african even if my skin doesnt look like it.. I can be all things, all the parts that make up who I am and race doesn't really enter into it, I am many things CULTURALLY, I am a mixing pot, our English is a mix of sayings made up of our many many official languages.
    Yes, there is friction between races here, but mostly it comes down to cultural differences.. I want my kids to grow up knowing as I have- that just because people are different doesnt make one person better or superior to another.. Great post... I get it:) The anger in the commens here also confused me because its never offensive here for a white person to dress in cultural clothing, infact South African's have a great sense of humour in this sense..

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  61. Also, would it be less offensive if you had dresses up as Pokahontas? you know slap a disney character on it and everyone is happy..

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  62. Someone above said a Jew would make a nice Halloween costume (Yes, I did get the biting irony in this comment).I am thinking about this still, but I want to put the two cents I´ve gathered so far out here too:
    First, it´s clearly a question of stereotype. What a the features of the prototype native American, what are those of the Jew? I suppose it´s clear that answering this question is just not possible, because there is neither THE native American nor THE Jew, nor is there THE christian or THE hindu or whatever else might come to your mind.
    But choosing costumes, we use these stereotypes and prototype features. So, the Jew: A certain hairstyle with the typical locks on the sides, maybe a beard. So an orthodox Jew, a Rabbi maybe. I am totally ok with that, even if I know that not all Jews dress like this. This is cliché and I don´t care. I wouldn´t care if it was a nun´s dress or a catholic priest´s or a wiccan´s priest, as long if it´s not running around half naked and drunk. That would, in my eyes be disrespectful.
    Back to the Jews costume: if this was a striped prisoners dress with a yellow star on it, yes, I would feel offended by that, because this portrais the suffering these people went through, and Halloween as any fun occasion just is not ok for this! So, a native American costume with bloodstains or whatever would be offending in my eyes, not a "normal" dressup.
    I have lost quite a few family members (even though these where "only" members of my family through marriage) in concentration camps because they where Jews, and of course I could freak out on only the idea of someone dressing up as Jew, but as you see, I don´t. My choice.

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  63. Dear Drea,

    I have been a very long-time reader and admirer of you and your blog, and was even a sponsor at one point! It has made me so happy to see Marlowe wearing the superhero cape I made for her in recent posts, and always makes me smile whenever I spot a stuffed monster or crown in one of your beautiful pictures. I'm so glad you're still using and enjoying those.

    As a fellow single mom (well, you're not anymore, but you know), I always really admired your style and self-sufficiency. Your blog has been one of my all-time favorites for a long time, especially in the sea of more traditional mommy blogs out there - yours has always stood out and inspired me.

    I was really disappointed to see your reaction to the many thoughtful, intelligent, well-reasoned responses to this post, and your unwillingness to read the articles that people linked for you to read. Listen, we all make mistakes and we're all learning. About five years ago, I dressed as an Ojibwe ghost dancer for Halloween. I put a lot of work into my costume, and wore it with nothing but respect and admiration for that culture. Then, I started reading the many articles written by Native people who said, again and again, "this is not okay - this is a culture, not a costume, etc" and explaining the many reasons why they felt that way. Oh my goodness, I was SO embarrassed and regretful, because that was not my intent at all! But the more I read, the more I started to really understand their perspective. I am so glad that I was open to being wrong, because I have learned so much, and feel that it has helped me to better respect and understand (in a small way) the rich, wonderful, and varied Native American cultures and what it is like for them to still be marginalized in the US today -- to experience the stereotypes and prejudice inherent in being Native every single day, long after you've removed your headdress for the night.

    Basically: if many, many, many people from a culture (one who has been systematically oppressed in this country for several hundred years) are telling you -- in so many thoughtful and heart-wrenching articles and essays -- "please don't dress as a Native American for Halloween," why on earth wouldn't you listen? Or at least read those articles and really, truly think about it?

    I believe that you are a kind-hearted, wonderful, strong woman with nothing but good intentions. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we make mistakes. The best way to remedy them is to LEARN, be open to other perspectives (truly open, not just saying "thank you for your opinion"), and do a bit of reading!

    http://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/

    http://this-is-not-native.tumblr.com/

    http://nativeappropriations.com/2010/04/but-why-cant-i-wear-a-hipster-headdress.html

    There are SO many more resources out there, and I really hope you might be open to reading and really listening to some of them. We have all made mistakes -- done hurtful things with nothing but good intentions behind them. I'm such a non-confrontational person, so I'm not sure why I've left you this long message. Perhaps you just have always struck me as such an open, kind person, and I hate to see you missing the possibility of learning and becoming even more open and kind-hearted.

    With respect,
    Sarah VE

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  64. I've known Andrea for 26 years now. I'm the Nepali friend she wrote about in this post.

    I see that a lot of you have a very strong opinion about this topic and the idea of sensitivity around respect. The opposition to her post-photo attempts to find its footing in the basis that Andrea is perpetuating the oppression and wide spread subjugation of a population; however, to make this assumption based on a single image and to then to chastise her in this way, lacks the thoughtful consideration that the improvement of our social stigmas and ideas of race need.

    Look, like I said - I've known this girl for a long time - I've NEVER commented on any of her blogs and read it infrequently (sorry re). I am not an internet person really - I know her in real life. She's not perfect - none of us are. She is not perfect and I am the first one to say that and to know that about her. BUT she knows what it feels like to be a cultural minority - to not have much money and to be on the outside. She know what it's like when our mothers couldn't comfortably attend parent-teacher conferences because they were still learning English. She stood by me when I got BADLY teased because I grew up poor and with few material things and in a house that exuded the idea of "the foreign other". She knows it's like to be discriminated against as a single mother and she has made a conscious choice to lead a non-traditional life.

    I get it. She offended you. But that happens in the world and in life. We all, together, have to learn how to deal with opinions that we don't like - and if we can do so without hatred, labels or putting the opposing idea holder down, we can actually be an active part of the solution that we all need.

    Andrea's not a racist. And even if she were ... what good would you be adding to the world by treating her without any sensitivity or an awareness of where she comes from? What kind of example would you be giving her on how to become more compassionate and aware, as you are making assumptions about what she knows, where she is from, her culture and then deciding that you are more right, more just and better than she is?

    Love you Re.

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  65. i´m argentinian, i love both your costumes, is your husband dressed up as a gaucho? this discussion is so deep and complex, in my country we don´t have the tradition of celebrating halloween, but it´s getting a little bit bigger, specially in the upper classes, this somehow makes the most progressive parts of the population feel against it, as it is viewed as an import of the american imperialistic culture. i see both sides, but still i feel like sometimes we need to reclaim the simple joy of innocent celebrating.

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  66. I saw the photo you posted on instagram, and I thought nothing of it. Later, when I went back and noticed you were getting attacked, and I was horrified. Honestly I was embarrassed for those people and the way they were/are acting. Then after reading the comments here...Well, I can't articulate my feelings near as well as others before me. The definition of bully: to act the bully toward; intimidate; domineer. and a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates. I wonder if they realize they are bullying you. It's like if someone isn't a like-minded thinker and doesn't tell them what they want to hear, things turn ugly.

    Your friend, I think, said it best. "We all, together, have to learn how to deal with opinions that we don't like - and if we can do so without hatred, labels or putting the opposing idea holder down, we can actually be an active part of the solution that we all need."

    Good for you for standing up for yourself. You have nothing to apologize for.

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  67. I have been a long time reader of yours and have enjoyed watching your daughter and you grow up. That being said, I am the granddaughter of an Ojibwe woman who was removed from her home at three years old and sent to live in a boarding school so that white people could remove the 'savage' from her. She was beaten for speaking her own language among other horrible things done to her.

    It is true that America is a melting pot and everyone needs to learn how to get along. People from different cultures came here looking for a better life and that is fine. My people were removed to make way for others better life, that is a fact. But I think you should look at this as a learning experience and do some research into the struggles still being fought by the Native American population in Canada and the USA and why your costume could be considered offensive.

    I realize that this started over a picture of a Halloween costume and that you have taken considerable grief over your choice. Your decision to open your life up on the internet as a way to generate income has both good and bad consequences. You get to stay home with your daughter and you have to put up with other peoples opinions (which I don't believe is bullying, girls).

    I have not decided yet if I will continue to read your blog anymore as I now understand your attitude toward me (not me personally, but the collective "me"), but you do have something to apologize for. You have hurt people and a person should always apologize for that. My hope is that as you grow and mature you come to realize what this all means. There is a reason that elders are respected in trial communities, it is because they are wise.

    Thanks for your time and consideration

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  68. It's unfortunate that you're being so selective in showing the honest response to your post. I'm not talking about the hateful ones either. There are thought provoking, respectful (as much as possible considering the topic), comments you aren't posting and I'm not just talking about my own. Obviously you can do whatever you want (clearly), but as bloggers do we not have an ethical obligation to be authentic in the discourse that occurs in the conversation? The comments? I'm not allowed to pick and choose the comments I get on any of my paid gigs for this very reason. The outright hateful ones, yes, of course. Aren't these discussions important even if we don't agree with one another? I can't deny I'm really feeling duped by your response to this whole matter.

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