Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

What to wear? What not to wear? Come here to find and how to make anything you'd wear on your body - from goggles and playawear to bodypainting and adornments.
SolarDor
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Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby SolarDor » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:54 am

Dear Burners: This is going to be my first Burn. When I first wanted to go, many years ago, I had a broader concept of what I found to be socially acceptable and unacceptable... Each year that I have not gone, however, my taste in what I expect from human expression has become more greatly focused, due to social and cultural advancements that are current HOT topics. I understand that the event exists for individuals who practice radical forms of artistry mixed with individuals who pretend to do this.

Though I understand the Burn is whatever experience I make of it, I also find myself searing every time I witness a white person donning a Native American War Headdress.

I know loud Cultural Appropriation is going to be highly prevalent, and I need to just find a way to deal with it for 7 days to avoid having an experience that further sours me to privileged people who, in an ugly fashion, warp the historical meaning of cultural objects and traditions. I am personally attending for lasting artistic inspiration, not 7 days of partying.
At this point, I'm feeling that the easiest way for me to do this is to just completely disassociate with the community and observe from the background; but, I feel like I might miss out on a lot with this perspective.

My question for you burners is: how do you personally navigate around this very real societal issue to find that which you are looking to experience at the Burn? I need answers from people of multiple cultures and ethnicities on this one. It simply won't do to hear only answers from white persons.

I honestly wish Cultural Appropriation wasn't a thing. I would love to be able to celebrate cultures [that I first research and honor] through costume mimicry. However, in recent years, because of the deeds of truly prejudice people, any form of cultural mimicry is seen as a systemic form of prejudice/racism.

It's not just N.A. Headdresses...it's about any cultural artifact worn by a person who by ethnicity or birthplace does not belong to that culture.

I've been irritated with this subject, as a person who wants to celebrate culture through a lens of love and wonderment. But, I do my best to honor the system in place...that this way of celebrating culture is not currently acceptable.

How do we navigate this at Burning Man? How do an array of ethnicities navigate this issue at Burning Man?

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some seeing eye
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby some seeing eye » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:22 am

Welcome to ePlaya and Burningman, SolarDor.

Many burners share your concern. You can search using Google site:eplaya.burningman.org for "cultural appropriation", feathers, "Native American" and similar terms.

Burning Man is not a utopia. There are so many experiences. Specific answer to your question, gather what is positive for you to carry for years beyond the burn and block out/ignore what negates that at your burn.

I would also say I wear items from Central Asia and Africa which came into my life because I almost lost my life both locations, multiple opportunities each, and I received those items there. So you never know what the experience is of someone you see at the burn unless you speak to them.
increasing the signal to noise ratio with compassion

SolarDor
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby SolarDor » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:52 am

Saying that Burning Man is not a Utopia actually makes me feel so much better already. My perception of an asserted supremacy has kept me from being able to go into the event without huge expectations that would undoubtedly lead to disappointment. I simply must gravitate to mind sets that are most conducive and enriching to my own. Thank you.

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Sham
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Sham » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:04 am

It's nearly universal that people who have not (or not yet) attended assume what it is or what they perceive it's going to be.
Come for your virgin year with a complete open mind and open heart. You appear to have already decided what you will like and not like and what you expect to get out of it and what you will ignore.

Having NO EXPECTATIONS is so utterly important to the whole Burning Man event. You will most likely not see a single person with a feathered headdress on. Now what? Maybe attend a party that you are trying to avoid.

You will no doubt find cultural differences that you can embrace and have a fresh understanding.

Remember, OPEN MIND and NO EXPECTATIONS and you will have an amazing week.

See you in the dust.

Sham....

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tatonka
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby tatonka » Thu Aug 06, 2015 5:26 am

also some people are mixed blood , so you would be judging them without really knowing them .
" Make me strong , not to be superiour to my brothers , to fight my greatest enemy ....... myself . " Chief Dan George .

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Bless
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Bless » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:35 am

SolarDor wrote:I honestly wish Cultural Appropriation wasn't a thing.


Cultural appropriation isn't a thing. Wear whatever the fuck you want. It's Burning Man for Christ's sake.
FUCK YOU, I'M A WIZARD. FUCK YOU, I'M A SHARK.

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FIGJAM
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby FIGJAM » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:45 am

SolarDor wrote:At this point, I'm feeling that the easiest way for me to do this is to just completely disassociate with the community and observe from the background; but, I feel like I might miss out on a lot with this perspective.


That doesn't sound like participation to me.

There is a lot of whimsy on the playa that is never meant to be mean spirited.

Something you find offensive may be done out of pure ignorance.

Offence, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

You are preprogramming yourself to ruin your burn.

Try to find a new perspective. 8)
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Captain Goddammit
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Captain Goddammit » Thu Aug 06, 2015 8:58 am

Good god man.
What a bunch of artificial drama over NOTHING.
Lighten up.
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A-RockLeFrench
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:15 am

Good god is right.



The discussion around cultural appropriation is long and involved, it's something I'm deeply interested in and frankly, I do not know if eplaya is the place for me to delve deep into my feelings and thoughts on the matter. However, I will say that personally I believe the idea of cultural ownership about as absurd as the idea of intellectual property, I do not believe anyone owns the right to a symbol. While on the other hand I do understand we live an in atrocious world where groups of people commit atrocities against others and that severe cultural wounds and shadows exist as a result of those atrocities. Burning Man may or may not be a place to begin acknowledging and perchance begin healing said wounds.. But what I do know is what BM is for me, a place to explore my identity outside the confines of the default world, and you know what? Sometimes my identity (as a white person coming from a culture bereft of meaningful symbols) involves appropriating the symbols or customs of another ethnic group. Sometimes with permission and blessing and other times not so much.


SolarDor: Please stop by Plunderground at 4:30 and A and check out our newly expanded museum, The Museum of Cultural Appropriation and Dead Things. It was built for people like you.

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Ratty
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Ratty » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:16 am

Many years ago I met a young man at Kostume Kult having a horrible burn. He was good looking and surrounded by hot babes. He was very unhappy because he couldn't find intimate female companionship. The reason he couldn't find intimate female companionship was because he was unhappy. So. Unless you are going there to write a paper on this subject I suggest you lose the 'tude'. You are headed for a miserable week otherwise.
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Dr. Pyro
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Dr. Pyro » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:24 am

Hay guys, give the dude a break. He's staying in Deaf Camp. You really need to write a little louder.

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A-RockLeFrench
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby A-RockLeFrench » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:26 am

[media]

Various
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Various » Thu Aug 06, 2015 9:43 am

OP, I agree with you completely. The other day I was screaming at a Native girl about how inappropriate it was for her to culturally appropriate the jeans and T-shirt she was wearing, and somehow when police were called I was the asshole.

Keep fighting the good fight.

maladroit
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby maladroit » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:17 pm

SolarDor wrote:I know loud Cultural Appropriation is going to be highly prevalent, and I need to just find a way to deal with it for 7 days to avoid having an experience that further sours me to privileged people who, in an ugly fashion, warp the historical meaning of cultural objects and traditions. I am personally attending for lasting artistic inspiration, not 7 days of partying.


Where are you camping? This might be the year I finally bring popcorn to the playa.

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skippy3k
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby skippy3k » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:34 pm

maladroit wrote:Where are you camping? This might be the year I finally bring popcorn to the playa.


Don't. You will be laughing too hard and it will fly out of your mouth and end up as MOOP.
I'm a fixer. I fix things.

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spacetime
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby spacetime » Thu Aug 06, 2015 12:57 pm

SolarDor wrote:Saying that Burning Man is not a Utopia actually makes me feel so much better already.

I think this is a common misconception that Burning Man is a holier-than-thou event where it is participants versus default or demonstrating a particular agenda pulled from default. Commonly the event is thought of as an environmental preservation-focused event (perhaps because of leave no trace?) but it is not that either.

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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Various » Thu Aug 06, 2015 1:28 pm

SolarDor wrote:
It's not just N.A. Headdresses...it's about any cultural artifact worn by a person who by ethnicity or birthplace does not belong to that culture.

I've been irritated with this subject, as a person who wants to celebrate culture through a lens of love and wonderment. But, I do my best to honor the system in place...that this way of celebrating culture is not currently acceptable.

How do we navigate this at Burning Man? How do an array of ethnicities navigate this issue at Burning Man?


Try not to wander too close to a sound camp, either. It would be pretty souring to hear some dance music that some insensitive upper middle class Jewish kid - or, God, even worse, a Filipino - appropriated from African tribal rhythms.

maladroit
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby maladroit » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:07 pm

Various wrote:
SolarDor wrote:
It's not just N.A. Headdresses...it's about any cultural artifact worn by a person who by ethnicity or birthplace does not belong to that culture.

I've been irritated with this subject, as a person who wants to celebrate culture through a lens of love and wonderment. But, I do my best to honor the system in place...that this way of celebrating culture is not currently acceptable.

How do we navigate this at Burning Man? How do an array of ethnicities navigate this issue at Burning Man?


Try not to wander too close to a sound camp, either. It would be pretty souring to hear some dance music that some insensitive upper middle class Jewish kid - or, God, even worse, a Filipino - appropriated from African tribal rhythms.


A Filipino appropriated American rock culture and is now the lead singer of Journey. Journey started off as a jazz fusion band. How deep does the appropriation go?

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Savannah
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Savannah » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:28 pm

spacetime wrote:
SolarDor wrote:Saying that Burning Man is not a Utopia actually makes me feel so much better already.

I think this is a common misconception that Burning Man is a holier-than-thou event where it is participants versus default or demonstrating a particular agenda pulled from default. Commonly the event is thought of as an environmental preservation-focused event (perhaps because of leave no trace?) but it is not that either.


Indeed, it is a More Offensive-Than-Thou event. :)

SolarDor, there is something on the playa to offend almost everyone. In the midst of the beauty and wonder and fun you may also find bottomless strange men here and there, vegans playing videos of animals being skinned, porn showings, hokey spiritual philosophies, people who can't hold their liquor, music all damned night when you are on the verge of dying from sleep deprivation, etc.

I have been offended on the playa by a Greeter dressed as a Nazi maybe 5 or 6 years ago. It didn't kill me or ruin my Burn. I felt free to express myself over it on ePlaya, although I didn't say something at the time (and I wish I had). The moron in question was . . . expressing himself (and it certainly saved me some time that I might've spent befriending him, so in a way, he did me a FAVOR).

But if I had told him my opinion, we probably would have been at a stalemate (because who am I to him?) . . . or he might have reconsidered his position, OR he might've remembered that he can do what he wants within the law and have buggered right off.

If I could do it over again, I would probably tell him what I thought, but recognize that he had a right to dress how he wanted to.

SolarDor wrote:At this point, I'm feeling that the easiest way for me to do this is to just completely disassociate with the community and observe from the background; but, I feel like I might miss out on a lot with this perspective.


Completely disassociating from the community and observing from the background can also be considered offensive to the Burner subculture (see the 10 Principles; Participation is one of them) so you're right, it's not the solution either. :)

There is increasing national/international recognition that wearing Native American headdresses for non-religious purposes/by non-Native Americans can be offensive, but SolarDor, you are still likely to see at least 1 person in 68,000 doing so. If that's going to ruin your Burn, face it now and decide whether it's worth it to attend . . . (but know that you might see the same thing coming down the street of your hometown outside a club, or passing in a parade, or on your FB feed or whathaveyou).

There is no place on the Earth safe from offense or jackassery.

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Doctor VonBacon
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Doctor VonBacon » Thu Aug 06, 2015 2:50 pm

Worry about what you are doing.

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing.

You are not responsible for their actions, they are not responsible for yours.

Everybody stay the fuck out of everyone else's business.

Arguing at burning man (or over the internet, for that matter) is never going to change anyone's mind.
I like eggs.

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melodiousdirge
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby melodiousdirge » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:05 pm

This

Bless wrote:Cultural appropriation isn't a thing. Wear whatever the fuck you want. It's Burning Man for Christ's sake.



And this

Captain Goddammit wrote:Good god man.
What a bunch of artificial drama over NOTHING.
Lighten up.


Radical self expression. Stop overthinking it - if someone's wearing a headdress it's probably because they think it looks cool. If that offends you, maybe this event isn't for you.
Beware teh snarkasm

SolarDor
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby SolarDor » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:19 pm

Now that I've garnered a good amount of responses, I know exactly what to expect. Therefore, I won't be disappointed or withdrawn. If I look at it through the lens of 'More Offensive than Thou,' I can only leave my expectations at the door and go along for the thrill. Some of you parallel my concerns, and that's also important. I'm not coming into the Playa to be the sergeant of the PC police. I just don't want to be taken aback by the shock. I'm super ready for this, now!
Last edited by SolarDor on Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SolarDor
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby SolarDor » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:25 pm

Dr. Pyro wrote:Hay guys, give the dude a break. He's staying in Deaf Camp. You really need to write a little louder.


Very nice display, here. Not sure what you're getting at. I am hearing and an ally of Deaf Culture. But, thanks for having my back on that one...

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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby GreyCoyote » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:29 pm

Whew. Glad to hear it! Because at some point a gay, buck-naked Jewish dude will run by with a henna swastika tattoo and an eagle feather protruding from his ass. Thats when the real test happens.

If you recoil in horror or revulsion, you failed.
If your first reaction was laughter followed by concern there might be a whole live bird jammed up in there, you're gonna do just fine.
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby melodiousdirge » Thu Aug 06, 2015 3:34 pm

GreyCoyote wrote:Whew. Glad to hear it! Because at some point a gay, buck-naked Jewish dude will run by with a henna swastika tattoo and an eagle feather protruding from his ass. Thats when the real test happens.

If you recoil in horror or revulsion, you failed.
If your first reaction was laughter followed by concern there might be a whole live bird jammed up in there, you're gonna do just fine.


ePlaya needs a 'like' button.
Beware teh snarkasm

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theCryptofishist
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Aug 06, 2015 4:43 pm

melodiousdirge wrote:
GreyCoyote wrote:Whew. Glad to hear it! Because at some point a gay, buck-naked Jewish dude will run by with a henna swastika tattoo and an eagle feather protruding from his ass. Thats when the real test happens.

If you recoil in horror or revulsion, you failed.
If your first reaction was laughter followed by concern there might be a whole live bird jammed up in there, you're gonna do just fine.


ePlaya needs a 'like' button.

In that case, eplaya needs a "I Don't Need to be Like Facebook" button, too.
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Raoul
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Raoul » Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:37 pm

Found this article written in response to someone on playa last year getting raked over the coals for wearing a headdress.

http://santafemous.com/2014/09/13/cultural-appropriation-is-a-fallacy/

Here's an excerpt:

"I live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Native American artists create and sell their culture prolifically. You can buy most any part of the culture. Peace pipes, medicine bags, dream catchers, you name it. The same is true online. I found countless sites operated by Native American artists selling authentic cultural items...Since the Native American culture itself sells it, why get enraged at people who buy it and utilize it? Artists get to employ their craft and get paid for it, while those purchasing get to appreciate a rich part of the beauty of Native culture."
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pink
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby pink » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:08 pm

Of course the girl that got laid into was posting that she lost her Segway. And was wearing a full headdress in her photo that was obviously missing feathers. Button pushed on many levels!
I'm not a slut, I'm good time floozy!

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theCryptofishist
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby theCryptofishist » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:10 pm

I hate cultural appropriation as yet another stripping of resources from the occupied to the colonial occupier.
I love cultural cross-fertilization that brings out how very human we all are.

I can't always tell the difference.
The Lady with a Lamprey

"The powerful are exploiting people, art and ideas, and this leads to us plebes debating how to best ration ice.
Man, no wonder they always win....." Lonesomebri

Various
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Re: Cultural Appropriation and Burning Man

Postby Various » Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:13 pm

maladroit wrote:
Various wrote:
SolarDor wrote:
It's not just N.A. Headdresses...it's about any cultural artifact worn by a person who by ethnicity or birthplace does not belong to that culture.

I've been irritated with this subject, as a person who wants to celebrate culture through a lens of love and wonderment. But, I do my best to honor the system in place...that this way of celebrating culture is not currently acceptable.

How do we navigate this at Burning Man? How do an array of ethnicities navigate this issue at Burning Man?


Try not to wander too close to a sound camp, either. It would be pretty souring to hear some dance music that some insensitive upper middle class Jewish kid - or, God, even worse, a Filipino - appropriated from African tribal rhythms.


A Filipino appropriated American rock culture and is now the lead singer of Journey. Journey started off as a jazz fusion band. How deep does the appropriation go?


Journey started out as Santana's backup band. It's like an ouroboros of offensiveness.


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