A case of discrimination based on white-passing status and assumed cultural appropriation

So this image is doing the rounds on Tumblr social justice blogs…

And it started like this:

Sticking a feather in a woman’s hair and braiding it doesn’t make her Native. I’m tired of seeing White models promoting Native Americans in a sexual way. Art is one thing, but we should be allowed to have pictures of US (not White people), in our own element to represent us. The rate of victimization of Urban Native Americans is 121.3 per 1000 people. As an Urban Native American, it shocks me even more. My race is the most likely to get raped, assaulted, and sexually assaulted. This is why I don’t like photos like these which makes us simply sexual objects. As a Native American woman, I don’t want to see the statistics to get worse. White women portraying a Native American women as a sexual object is not right.

See, the thing is, not only did no one bother to get permission to use the photo in such a manner, but the model herself?

This is a photo of me. And guess what? I am apache and choctaw, you morons. But I am sure your ignorance and your racism got in the way of actually finding the source of this photo, and seeing I have written blog after blog about being Native American, and my pride for my heritage that has been instilled in me.

Her Tumblr blog had a link to the unaltered photo in question, but it’s been removed, apparently for violating Tumblr’s Terms of Service. If you look at Rachel Dashae’s Tumblr blog, as far as I can tell it’s the only photo which has been removed, even though there are other nude photos of her on her blog.

As far as I can tell, the image is contentious because of her pretty-by-white-standards status, and goes from there based on the notion that it’s a white girl appropriating and fetishizing Native American culture.

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Well done. You have proven that issues of cultural appropriation are just nonsense and whining. This was probably a big hit over at Stormfront.


About ready to give up on BoingBoing, as I think Jeff Atwood’s system, while beautiful and brilliant, has encouraged the concern trolls to move in and take over. See: the Stormfront crack. Honestly. You’retryingtoohard.

If you’re not trolling, I think you missed the point entirely: The model, while white-passing, is Native American and agreed to the photoshoot. Seems proud of it. She can’t appropriate a culture she’s a member of. And I’m not sure how defending a Native American’s right to do with her body what she pleases makes me a white supremacist…maybe this is some of that feels logick I see so much of these days.

Meanwhile, her image is being used without her, or the photographer’s permission, to whine about white models wearing feathers in their hair. Did you catch the part where she’s Native American?

In the mad rush to decry yet another example of cultural appropriation, an image of an actual Native American has been labeled as cultural appropriation.

To me, well, let’s look at a hypothetical situation where Alicia Keys would decide to put out an album of old blues songs, and had people protesting her album for appropriating black culture because she could be considered white-passing.

I can’t work myself up too much about “this looks like an example of a common thing that is really getting to me”, even if she missed in this case: It seems like one of the areas where the hit vs false positive - ratio is high enough that not doing a full background check every time is a rather forgivable omission.

Of course, if I’m wrong and a significant amount of models for pictures where they are meant to look natAm really are natAm, then that’s probably something both I and the complainer would be happy to be corrected on.

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