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Indians and Pilgrims: Tradition or Cultural Appropriation?

Is Dressing Up As Indians and Pilgrims for Thanksgiving Cultural Appropriation?

I think about the question in all-caps, and will therefore refer to it as such throughout this article. All-caps will best frame this argument so my DoC (Decree of Colouredness) is accurately heard by the white readership. The goal is for you the reader to leave this article feeling placated, perhaps even vindicated that the hours reading Facebook-curated Mic.com articles lead you to predict my conclusion before even opening the page. How am I to quiet myself and produce an article as inoffensive as possible as to garner the least amount of controversy and triple-liked 200 word Facebook comments on how we’re policing people’s freedom too much nowadays?

So no, Dressing Up As Indians And Pilgrims For Thanksgiving Is Not Cultural Appropriation. Feel free to wear saris and sarongs in the single-digit weather of St Andrews. Let the third eye of your bindi feast upon that Tesco (or for the posh of us, M&S) bought turkey, as your other two kajal-lined eyes tuck into the beans and (not one, but) three potato dishes at your society’s Thanksgiving potluck. Decorate your hands with abstract, oriental-inspired turkey-like patterns of henna, let the swirls fade through to the first week of revision as ghosts of your flatmate’s best rendition of feathers done with a drink-wobbly hand finally leave.

Source: (wikipedia)

That’s not the kind of Indian I mean, you (the reader) will say.

Of course, I knew that already, but in 2017 my of-the-continent-Indian ass is sick of having to say “Amerindian” (which is a very difficult word to say out loud when one is recovering from a lisp and a difficult case of a true-blue Aussie accent) in my otherwise Politically Correct Social Anthropology Tutorials. It’s very confusing – I joke at one such class hour, hoping that some change will come from it – I never know which India they’re talking about!

Clearly, I do: I, despite being an arts student, am able of some critical thought. I know how to read. I did not bribe my entry into this school in any way apart from the promise of the fees I would pay. No one else, in that otherwise white tutorial, seemed to get the joke.

Is dressing up as Indians and Pilgrims for Thanksgiving Cultural Appropriation? If I were to answer yes, would it imply that dressing up as “Indians and Pilgrims” for other events is not cultural appropriation?

All those points are moot. Dressing Up As Indians And Pilgrims For Thanksgiving, as I have previously said, Is Not Cultural Appropriation. Dressing up as “Indians and Pilgrims” is, in fact, a perfect example of white-anglo-saxon-protestant culture. Perhaps if I were to do it, I’d be appropriating white settler-colonist culture, my brown skin an unwelcome spot of colour in an otherwise demure black & white costume.

Source: (Flickr)

Dressing Up As Indians For Thanksgiving Isn’t Cultural Appropriation. It’s just racist. You want to wear brown skin for a night, think the exotic nature of an “Indian” is sexy, want to have a little bit of fun in your Amazon-ordered Pocahontas costume. You don’t care enough about Native Americans enough to pick a culture to appropriate. And you’ll get away with it, because how many First Nations people are there in Scotland, let alone this tiny corner of Fife.

If you’re already going to Dress Up as Indians and Pilgrims for Thanksgiving, I doubt this article will convince you otherwise. I do think you’re a couple weeks late with your costume, though: the spectre of Euro-American colonialism is one of the scariest Halloween outfits I could think of.

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