This season Project Runway welcomed its first-ever Native American designer, textile artist Patricia Michaels. The show raps up tonight and the Taos, New Mexico designer is one of the final three competitors.
But whether Michaels wins or loses tonight, having her viewpoint and hand-crafted talents highlighted on one of the most popular shows on TV has been, quite honestly, a welcome change from several recent factory-made fashion appropriations of Native American culture.
The same way that evolutionary psychology (or at least, bad reporting on evolutionary research) often conveniently reinforces sexist stereotypes about the role of men and women in the 21st society, genetic explanations for alcoholism tend to reinforce preexisting stereotypes about certain ethnic groups and races
First Lady Crew member, JB the First Lady, is a beat-boxer, emcee, performing artist, aboriginal youth educator, single mother, award winning actor, and member of the Nuxalk and Cayuga Nations who is "using [her] words to go upwards/not backwards." Check out JB the First Lady’s brand new music video Get Ready, Get Steady after the jump!
If we're going to talk about voluntary sterilization—or even the simple act of opting to have few or no children—we've got to get everyone on the same historical page. While I tend to take for granted that people understand the history of forced sterilization in the U.S., as well as countries such as China that mandate single-child families as part of population control, it may not be a given that everyone understands the connections between modern eugenics, race/class/ability privilege, reproductive justice, and the struggle for voluntary sterilization. Much as I know loads of folks use it as a jumping off point, skimming the Wikipedia entries for compulsory sterilization and eugenics in the United States only gets you so far.
Lately I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with the hipsters and hippies who appropriate Native culture in various ways, as well as the hippie/hipster "culture" at large, and have become increasingly annoyed at their depiction/co-option of my ethnicity as a First Nations person.
I know my parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles have had to deal with this in their time and it’s certainly not a new thing –but it’s 2010 and not only does it still continue strongly to this day – it’s taken some interesting turns down the erasure of true origins road. This isn’t a hate letter, or reverse racism (as if there were such a thing!). It’s also not an attempt to discourage you from finding out more about Native people – and in fact I strongly ENCOURAGE you to do some actual research and knowledge seeking so you might get our culture right and think twice about things like permission and respect before you act on your appropriation.