So overall I agree with the end of your piece and the general intent/air of it. But I was still a bit frustrated/confused at some parts.

I don’t fw that many white people so when you name hawkish white folks obsessed with cultural appropriation I can only imagine that is because your circles tend to be more white altogether. POC in my circles discuss CA as well. I know many South Asian folks who have said “Nah, lots of what previously discussed as cultural appropriation of our culture isn’t, and we are tired of this discussion.” I respect that! But other people who come from other cultures, or even other South Asian folks, disagree, & have a right to.

We have to remember there is no monolithic POC experience or thought. A group of people whose numbers range in the billions saying they don’t think certain aspects of their dress is appropriation is different from a much smaller tribe of Indigenous Americans fighting for their wares to be trademarked so others will stop misappropriating and profiting off their work. There’s a unique experience that Indigenous & Black people have with their whole cultures, bodies and lives being taken hostage and exploited for white gain. So yes, the conversation is complex because WE are complex, not because “well if you think about it race and culture is like complex and nebulous construct so I’m not *really* white to be honest” (which to an extent is true, but we cannot abstract to the point of ignoring the real racial constructs we have existed within for the past 500+ years that Europeans created. You’re white because that is what your people chose to be. End of story.) To rush to come to simple conclusions by generalizing the conversation is telling.

And to touch again on that “what am I, what is race, really?” thought-I too likely have Indigenous (Arawak) ancestry. I have asked myself the same questions. I have concluded that while I’d love to learn more and honor those ancestors, I am not Taino or Indigenous. I wasn’t raised it. If we were Indigenous, girl, we’d know! You would experience all the bad things that come with it! It isn’t a pick and choose game.

Blood quantum and reclaiming Native roots and who gets to claim what is a messy involved conversation not for you and I to have, and, believe it or not, is already happening without us, like with with author Joseph Boyden, and a young Ojibwe artist who was ruthlessly dehumanized for being light skinned and wearing uniquely designed regalia at a pow wow and she wrote a really great “fuck you” to the people who dared question her background because of that. But to lay claim and encroach on Indigeneity bc of maybe having a teeeensy bit of ancestry is absolutely disrespectful and, frankly, white as hell.

Regardless, what outsiders cannot do is comb through any given group of POC that is hundreds, thousands, millions, even billions deep, find the people that agree with them & use that to dismiss others and justify fetishization. That phenomena is something I call Pokemoning. We aren’t your pets to throw and fight each other. If I have ever cut someone down, if you have ever been, it is because many people are hurt and tired of this discussion and how unwilling people are to listen and do their own work and research, and it is troublesome to somehow call that “ego”.

You can raise your child in *her* culture, even come to love, engaging, participate & celebrate it yourself, without encroaching, appropriating or disrespecting it. And you can encroach and disrespect even if you like, totally have a daughter from that is Filipino and yr trying hard not to. The choice is yours. You don’t get to redefine what is comfortable and acceptable by others so you don’t mess up. Being overly cautious will limit you, but people acting like they can do whatever you want with other people’s cultures and livelihoods is what got us all in this mess in the first place.

You don’t have to hem and haw because it isn’t for you to decide, only listen to others tell you their decisions about their lives and cultures, as they have all written “this is what you can do, this is what we’d rather you not” manuals at this point. Educate yourself on what is and isn’t cultural appropriation (surprise, a lot more of it than you think is actually fine to engage if done right, and the stuff that is wrong is egregious and obvious). In the very least, as with things like moccasins, you can buy them directly from the people themselves to so you get an authentic item they consent to sell to outsiders and they can see the profit and gain the esteem for it.

Chances are regardless, we can still stand to question, analyze, and search deeply as to why we may feel the need to don or wear or engage an aspect of someone else’s culture. We won’t argue that you aren’t racist because you are, all white people are, we are all indoctrinated by white supremacy. So I assume (hope?) your inquiry into this is not about whether you are racist, because that’s already been answered & isn’t the point, but whether you are further acting on and possibly hurting others with stuff you have yet to unpack.


Writer. Community organizer. Errant punk. Ne’er do well. Fire starter. Email:

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