Saturday, May 21, 2011
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I’ve long struggled with the balance of contradicting pieces of my identity. The most persistent example comes in the form of fashion. I have a firm belief that consumerism is marketed to people as a way to identify themselves. Or, in other words, ‘buy and be a unique individual.’ As I’m not a big fan of mindless consumerism or the idea that stuff can define your personality, I look upon fashion consumerism with some disdain.
I would be amiss if I didn’t acknowledge that I am of this contemporary world. It is because of this that I struggle. My entire life I’ve been led by the surrounding world to believe that things can help me structure who I am. This is utterly nonsensical, I’m aware. Still, I cannot say with any certainty that I don’t like things. Of course I do. I also like fashion. Which, again, is counterintuitive of my internal beliefs.
My actions have lately been of careful consideration. I’ve tried my hardest to acknowledge both parts of me. I’ve been careful with my purchases and thoughtful about why I want to buy things in the first place. It’s rather tiresome and often makes me feel terribly guilty but I’ll continue doing it because I simply cannot go back to being blind.
The other problem I have with the fashion industry is how it treats culture. It views culture as a useful commodification That can be profited off of the same consumerist principle I previously described. As someone who values culture, someone who is of Ojibwe, Puerto Rican and Scottish descent, I cannot condone the endless appropriation of ethnic cultures. Granted I am most attune to Native American appropriation as I am, in fact, Native. This does not mean I am unaware of the appropriation of many other cultures and religions (see this, for example). This extends pretty much everywhere minority cultures are colonized and oppressed by Western society. *
I must make note that I am human and I make mistakes. I do not intentionally mean to appropriate cultures but, living in the United States, I do so daily. I fight these things by constant vigilance and awareness. I become greatly offended by the nonchalance of others when confronted with claims of injustice by peoples of appropriated cultures
The only way I can see of helping to cure this general cultural insensitivity is to write about it. I’ve written a very lengthy paper about this. Once it has gone through a few more drafts I will be putting it up in installations. I want to make clear that I don’t do so to attack anyone. I do so to encourage discussion and learning. If you happen to feel attacked, I would apologize but I don’t see it necessary as I am merely utilizing my voice as an individual that feels affected by appropriation.
Please stay tuned for more thoughtful, fashion-oriented pieces.
*I would like to make clear that the concept of “whiteness” is normalized and does little justice to the array of European cultures and I try very hard to refer to all groups by their preferred association (i.e. English, Irish, Polish, etc.)