Radical Inclusion: Listen Up Before Dressing Up

By Yelena Filipchuk, Dio Ganhdih and Allegra Lucas of HYBYCOZO

Editor’s note: This post has been contributed by members of the Burning Man community who volunteered to share their views on this topic. It was not written by the Burning Man organization. Cultural changes at Burning Man happen through open dialogue. If you want to contribute a Journal post to this conversation, here’s how: Submit a Story form.


We go to Burning Man to get free. We go there to get a glimpse of a more radical future and create the connections that will help us define and build that world together.

If we are to use Burning Man as a blueprint for that better world, we all have to take it upon ourselves to create the type of society that everyone actually wants to participate in.

The HYBYCOZO art crew would like to take a couple moments of your time to talk about creating progressive and radically inclusive environments on the playa, as well as some exclusive choices you might be making — even unknowingly — on your journey to Radical Self-expression.

We hope to open up a discussion of spiritual and cultural significance, diversity, and civic engagement at Burning Man and beyond.

So, what’s going on? As Burning Man has grown, we the authors have been shocked to see how many people donning war bonnets and feather headdresses to party in. Those of us who are Native feel hurt and disrespected by this behavior. Just like the Burning Man community would not tolerate people walking around in blackface or perpetuating other racist stereotypes, we think it’s important to address the issue of appropriation from indigenous cultures.

We hope that sharing how this affects us will allow everyone to feel safe enough to share their own experiences and to fully hear the experiences of others. And we really hope that dialogue will lead Burners to question this practice and make more inclusive, more beautiful art together.

Participant experiencing a spinning cylinder with LED lights
(The Convulsatorium by Cris Wagner, photo by Rick Egan)

What Is the Problem With Appropriating Native Dress?

First, Native Americans in the U.S. and First Nations people in Canada have explicitly requested headdresses and war bonnets not be worn by people outside of the tribes that they come from. In Native communities, these items aren’t fashion choices, but rather are earned as symbols of respect, honor and achievement. As Dennis Zotigh of the National Museum of the American Indian says, wearing a war bonnet you didn’t earn is like tying a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart to your chest that you didn’t serve for.

Second, headdresses have a tendency to shed feathers, which is a major MOOP problem, so they probably shouldn’t even be at Burning Man in the first place.

Third, you might be thinking, “But what about Radical Self-expression?” The question I would ask you: How is appropriating someone else’s culture your self-expression? If you’re wearing the ceremonial dress of people who tell you you can’t have it, how can you claim that expression as yours? Simply because you feel free to express yourself in a festival setting does not imply that it’s okay to appropriate someone else’s cultural heritage in the name of a killer Instagram shot.

The history of the dominant white culture is one of aggression, colonization and subjugation of people, extracting resources from their bodies, their cultures and their lands. That history is painful. You might think you’re celebrating those people, cultures and places by wearing their dress as fashion, but to them, it might just feel like more painful taking. Instead of inflicting that pain, why not listen to those people? Why not take the opportunity to explore your own heritage or more personal modes of expression?

To illustrate these points, our sister Dio, part of HYBYCOZO, virgin in 2015, and a member of the Iroquois Nation, would like to share her experience.

Dio Ganhdih, Queer, Mohawk-Indigenous, First-Nation Rapper, Artist, Tech Diversity Consultant

“Like so many others, my first round at Burning Man was an experience I’ll never forget. As a human, artist, healer, musician, dancer, time traveler, I was completely enamoured by the freeing nature of Black Rock City.

At first, I was able to see Burning Man as an environment that stripped away our differences as humans and placed us all on a common denominator in the desert. I fell in love with the playa’s beauty and felt awe at the large-scale art that was birthed.

But I soon realized that as a first-nation indigenous person, my experience was going to be drastically different from my peers’ as I had to watch shirtless bros in american flag shorts dance around wearing headdresses. Yah, we tried to create conversation, we tried to intervene, we looked to educate, we listened but were continually silenced by appropriating Burners.

I prepped for months for my first Burn, got all the right gear, the best non-perishables, traveled with my closest friends and allies. What I wasn’t prepared for was a distressing environment that diminishes the complexities of my own indigenous identity. I believe that we at Burning Man have a wonderful understanding of diversity and inclusion, but this misuse of cultural symbols diverts from this part of Burner identity, and it causes me to question Burning Man’s idea of Radical Inclusion.”

BM81379_Brickhead EARTH by James Tyler-scr
Brickhead EARTH by James Tyler (Photo by Glen Fidler)

We’d also like to share another perspective from Allegra Lucas, HYBYCOZO Mama and fifth-year Burner.

Allegra Lucas (a.k.a Laser Cut Leggs), Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Diversity and Inclusivity Trainer

“The Burning Man organization celebrates that Black Rock City had its most diverse population to date last year, which is thrilling. I am a black woman, and I love Burning Man. It has changed my life and altered my perception of what’s possible when the human imagination is given a multi-dimensional canvas to express itself freely. The question is whether or not the culture of BRC can evolve to support and sustain the diversity of its ever-expanding community.

At the event’s inception, there were no street signs, vehicle passes or apps designed to help you find your friends on playa. Over the years, the event has refined its infrastructural components to increase safety for its participants and to strengthen the container so that folks could freak out more freely.

Well, we stand at a cultural crossroads now. Can we as a community inspire a shift in consciousness that says yes to Radical Self-expression and says no to the appropriation of traditional indigenous attire?

A war bonnet is NOT a party hat. It is sacred to the indigenous people of this country who have been wronged repeatedly by the dominant culture. And guess what? If someone is telling you that your actions or your choice to put on their culture’s significant icons are hurting them, you don’t get to decide that it doesn’t actually hurt them.

If you are for peace, if you are for love, if you are for transcendence then you will stand in solidarity with the indigenous and with the black and brown Burners who want this practice to stop. You will stop buying and wearing war bonnets or any feathered headdresses resembling traditional indigenous ceremonial garb.

As a diversity and inclusivity trainer, something that stood out to me was the lack of tools and communication skills I saw among Burners once this conflict emerged. It happens in my work repeatedly: A person of color brings up a painful experience, and a white person goes out of their way to defend their own position rather than becoming curious about what the person from the marginalized group has to say.

Just a few pieces of advice about cross-cultural discourse at Burning Man.

  1. If you are a lead in a Theme Camp, integrate a statement or discussion about diversity into the fabric of your camp culture. Not talking about difference doesn’t make us all the same. It makes us avoidant and cultivates an attitude of denial. If you don’t bring it up, it might emerge in a not so pleasant way. Usually in the form of a conflict.
  2. Try to have these discussions sober. Rational thought and a good handle on your impulse control are vital when broaching these topics.
  3. Reflective Listening: Person A shares their perspective // Person B listens, then repeats verbatim to Person A // Person B can then share their perspective // Person A listens and repeats verbatim. This slows down the process and gives each person an opportunity to metabolize what the other is saying. The function of this process is for each participant to hear and be heard.
  4. And finally, if you are a person who identifies as white or from the dominant culture, please just listen. Listen with your heart and check your ego. If you can manage to do so, the potential for love, community, connection and repair are boundless. And that I believe is what we are all looking for out in the dust anyway.”
HY
HYBYCOZO (Photo by Luke Szczepanski)

So, beautiful Burner, you have meticulously packed your killer outfits, you’ve packed gifts to give others, you have your baby wipes, your furry bike, and you are ready for your transformational time in the desert. But right now you may be thinking, “Why are you trying to kill my vibe? I am just trying to express myself; I’m not hurting anyone.”

But cultural appropriation does hurt. You just might not be listening to the voices of people hurt by it. And now that you understand these voices better, you can DO better!

By all means, you should dress as sexy as you damn please. But is there a way to dress sexy without mocking someone’s violent history? Answer: Yes! Yes there is! Be creative! Research your art form with integrity! Up your fashion game with wisdom! Be radically expressive! It is Burning Man!

The ability to be sensitive, inclusive, and responsive to the concerns of people of color takes the willingness to listen. When you hear that your costume choices represent cultural appropriation, consider whether you want to be parading in regalia that send this message: I am not willing to stand with these people and their centuries of pain and say, I respect you, I hurt with you over the trauma that separates us in history, I love you and choose to make your concerns my priority. Instead, let’s make a shared, creative effort of love and identity that is respectful and grounded in the intent for peace and healing.

We hope, at least, that we all might become better listeners to the concerns of others. Radical Inclusion is not easy, folks. We are the sum result of our ethnicity, historical memory and upbringing. Add politics and economics, and it’s a thick damned shell to crack! It can be done. It’s happening little by little. May we all meet in the dust!


(Top image: HYBYCOZO – Deep Thought, photo by Wendell DeLano)

235 Comments on “Radical Inclusion: Listen Up Before Dressing Up

  • C says:

    You can censor people as long as you have a good reason

    Report comment

    • Sid says:

      Nobody is saying “you can’t”, they’re saying “please don’t”.

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    • Joe says:

      You can be racist and perpetuate colonialism as long as you have a good reason.

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      • getrekt says:

        how about i be proud of my colonialism and you all can go f8ck your feelings. this subversive peddling of antinationlist sentiment is frankly appauling. dont tell me how to view history, why dont you stop wearing middle eastern scarfs, unless youve fought isis, or why not throw away that ironic fedora because i feel it was culturally established by Prince Edward of Britain, and you are insulting the thousands that lost their lives on the beaches of dunkirk… i mean honestly is this only reserved for your self righteousness? and what about if my ancestors were murdered ont he oregon trail? dont provoke people to activly oppose your “enriching” censorship with the biggest f-ing neon head dress money can buy. its like the only people you want to attend are those you can coddled like impressionable children. Re-title article, emos have grown up and taken over positions of power to enrich us with their ideological superiority.

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      • LenapeHasinai says:

        That’s right getrekt! Be proud of your history! WHITE POWER, WHITE PRIDE!!

        This comment feed shows exactly why the idea that Burning Man is some sort of feat of human enlightenment is a complete joke. It’s simply a place where people of privilege can go revel in hedonism and self gratification. Considering the cost at least we can be thankful there’s not a lot of representation of oppressed minority ethnicities like Native Americans there. As a member of the Delaware Nation and the Caddo Nation I am proud to say that my people do not need Burning Man to achieve enlightenment we have our own religions that give us that which we have been practicing on this continent for thousands of years, even when people appropriate them. Nor do we need to be around people like getrekt to remember that people can really suck and the world is dominated by white supremacy and racism. Clearly his name says it all; he comes to Burning Man to get wrecked, not to relish in enlightened humanity. Burning Man is simply a giant desert version of a club full of privileged douche bags. This comment feed couldn’t illustrate that more clearly. That’s fine. But let’s all stop pretending it’s some sort of bastion of progressive human enlightenment. It’s just a place where a bunch of people get together to indulge in self gratification. Of course it’s going to attract thousands of chbags like getrekt.

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      • Dear LenapeHasinai,

        I am sorry that Get got under your skin. 70,000 people go the BRC. Plenty of them are not so cool to be around. But as a person of color who has spent his life breaking down borders and trying to end the ‘exchange economy’, I can tell you that the people I meet on the playa inspire me greatly.

        If you are coming this year, please come by and visit with me and the crew I hang with us – we have a few ‘original people’, all manner of POC and just about every other group of wonderful folk you can imagine.

        I find that in this world, we create the experience we wish to experience. Come… create.

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    • Natalie Meyjes says:

      do those individuals who chose to wear tutus insult the the tradition, hard work, and extreme discipline of ballerinas ?

      Report comment

    • Feathers are sacred to many says:

      I wonder where people are getting all these Native American Headdresses to wear on the playa? Please excuse my ignorance, but is it specifically the Native AMerican War Bonnet that is being discussed as appropriation? I’ve been to BM 8 times and I’ve only ever seen a small handful of those, and they were either cheap knockoffs (which I totally get) or beautiful self made artist representation that *maybe* could be being portrayed as a knockoff. Usually they are imbued with so much of the artists own self and style that it can hardly be called Native American. Often times the shape isn’t even the specific warbonnet style, let alone made with eagle feathers used to represent specific deeds. Is this offensive? Then it would seem that any usage of feathers would be inappropriate by NA standards despite a worldwide usage and history of donning feathers across many races. And at what point is asking someone not to do something impeding on their own religious experience of wearing their own headdress that isn’t Native American made?

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  • Ivy love says:

    And this makes sense not to imitate … create your own, own what you have to give. Listen. Leave a small footprint. Nice see you 2017.

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  • V says:

    This is such a thoughtful piece about cultural appropriation. Thank you for sharing your perspective. For any Burners traveling south to BRC, please consider stopping in Chiloquin, Oregon, this weekend to show some love to our Klamath Tribes. The Tribes are celebrating the 30th anniversary of the restoration of their status as a sovereign nation. The Pow Wow will be fabulous, and there will also be a rodeo and other events. Be well, Burners, and travel safely.

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    • HYBYCOZO says:

      thank you for the message and invitation V <3

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      • Hypocritical Henry says:

        Why does no one ever publish what white people who were born in America are allowed to do? Why only the negative? Instead of telling us to stop wearing this, that and everything else…why not tell us what the people who were born into our “American Culture’ can wear, do or say? Did anyone in your art collective get in a vehicle recently? if yes, does that mean you support the industrial revolution that destroyed so many “ancient cultures?” I would have more respect to LISTEN if the people that speak out, were not hypocrites.

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    • Kazakhstan Joe says:

      So V encourages us to go to an event and watch a group of people appropriate the Kazakhstan people who were the first to domesticate horses. Do you mean to tell me that Russia/Soviet Union did not oppress these people? Why do North American Indians believe they can ride horses and invite us to $$ events so we can pay to watch them appropriate. Not to mention, I never heard a horse say they enjoy having a human ride on them. So animal rights are not ok?

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  • Estell says:

    Way to go, HYBYCOZO, glad you have this spin on radical inclusion!

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  • Questions says:

    Does this mean no taking scalps or counting coup either?

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  • Phalkor says:

    “The history of the dominant white culture is one of aggression, colonization and subjugation of people, extracting resources from their bodies, their cultures and their lands.”

    And yet the theme this year is celebrating Renaissance Europe. So which is it? Personally, I couldn’t live with such cognitive dissonance.

    So hey there beautiful burners, all of you are cultural appropriators. What is American culture but an experimental mashup of everything the world has to offer. Sometimes you get brilliance, sometimes it’s shit. Decide for yourself, don’t be nagged into compliance.

    It’s a real shame we don’t recognize that everyone has a culture, not just the perpetually aggrieved haunted by the sins-of-the-fathers.

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    • Mississippi Ronn says:

      Thank god you said it! All this whiny touchy feelly crap. I’m Scottish-German -Seminole-French. Nobody lived back then you are all just Americans or whatever. If you are having fun and not intentionally hurting someone, have at it. My indian part won’t get all butthurt anymore than my Scottish part will if you’re wearing a kilt. It’s time we quit being so PC and just enjoy life. How is that for radical inclusion?

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  • Toni says:

    Pshaw! Political correctness in the arts is the camel’s nose in the tent.
    Googling for Native American headdress one finds many NA businesses that sell them as costumes or decorations. It seems that perspectives are multiple within the community. For some it’s sacred and for some it’s simply a costume. “Cultural appropriation” is a two edged sword and poison for the arts. Enforcement would mean no Broadway ‘Hamilton’, no Brazilian rappers, no cosplay, no Asian opera singers, no thank you.
    And this emphasis on ‘white’ is just as offensive and historically inaccurate.

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    • Fountain says:

      Are you a native person? If not, I don’t think you can comment on “perspectives within the community”. And I can guarantee that any business that claims to be Native and that is selling traditional regalia for “costumes”, is not representative and not Native. I also think you are failing to understand the complex dynamics of racism and cultural appropriation. It is not poison for the arts. Appropriating symbols, traditional dress, or ceremonies without understanding the histories and without being part of that community is taking something that is not yours to take. It is harmful for those communities. Peoples right to have their cultures/ancestors respected is more important than any white persons feelings or artistic expression.

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      • Toni says:

        Actually, I’m 1/8 NA, 1/4 AA and the rest from Southern Spain (which is a mix of everything under the sun with a high percentage of Arab blood). And, I don’t have to be part of the NA community to comment – not part of the rules of the Universe as far as I know. If one indigenous person says it’s sacred and the other says it’s not, then the difference of opinion is a fact. Why are you so anti-white? It’s the person not their skin color.

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      • Fountain says:

        Sure you can comment. I’m not arguing that in any way. But saying things like “it seems perspectives are multiple within the community” based on Googling some websites is hardly a solid understanding of actual thoughts and feelings within Native communities. I think calling me anti-white is attempting to re-direct the conversation. I am not anti-white, I’m half white. I am anti-whiteness. Whitness being the system that benefits from racism, in whatever form. In this case, I am against cultural appropriation.

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      • ean says:

        i’ve spoken to many natives, and they are not offended or hurt by it. It seems only uppity politically correct whiny rich san fran bay area brats who want to virtue signal are offended. Actually talk to atives and get another perspective.

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      • Budhead says:

        There is no such thing as a ” Native ” American. We all migrated here.

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    • Fountain says:

      At ean – I like how you used the “I have a native friend argument”. I’m Anishinabe from southern Ontario. I can ask myself. Yes – wearing headdresses at Burning Man is offensive. And actually – people don’t use the term racist enough or call our racist behavior. Apparently it frightens people like you.

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  • Walker says:

    Looks like Burning Man is going to need a Department of Cultural Appropriation to regulate offending behaviors. I’ll volunteer for the sub-committee that regulates the marauding hordes of wasted frat-boys wearing golfer hats.

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  • Bridgett Goodwife says:

    I find that as a cultural WASP who has given up on much of that indoctrination that the best way for me to grow culturally is LISTEN.
    However, it is becoming more clear to me that even when I am listening to those who’s culture is different than mine, the voice that is the quietest and also the most suppressed is the voice of native peoples.
    So when one speaks, I feel that it is very important for me to listen, to learn, to ask and to honor. I believe how I walk this earth with its people and its land is important. how much can I learn from a people who knew that from the beginnings.
    Thank you for this thoughtful peace. I don’t know if burning man will ever be more than a dream for me, but I do know if it is, I will be very mindful of what I portray to others.

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  • Eric says:

    What a babies. I’ll wear a head dress if I want to and I’m not responsible for whatever any actions people before me, no matter what culture or skin color they’re from have taken. If you think this article is idiotic, its because it is.

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    • Fountain says:

      Eric – spoken like a true white dude. Someone is challenging your thoughtless entitlement to do whatever you want and you don’t like it. You may not be responsible for the actions of your white ancestors, but you ARE benefitting form the systems of racism and genocide that built the United States. By continuing to appropriate something that is not yours and dismissing the feelings and rights of others, you are continuing that legacy.

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      • Jessica says:

        Way to go BM for trying to correct these systems of oppression. I haven’t seen very many festival address this issues- and it is an issue. Cultural appropriation runs deep and it’s hard to explain to someone who’s not a minority community member or someone who has experienced privilege their whole life. Systemic oppression has no place at BM and I’m really proud to be part of a community that addresses this.

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      • Blender says:

        “Spoken like a true white dude”…what does that even MEAN? You do realize that there is more than one race affected by racism, yes? You keep mentioning “whiteness” and insinuating that the only form of racism alive and well is white people being racist to every race that is NOT white. When, in fact, some would agree that the basis of your comment “spoken like a true white dude” is a bit of a racist comment…no???

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      • ean says:

        Yet…actually speak to natives and they thin you are a fucking joke for thinking cultural appropriation is offensive to them. Your politically correct namby pamby white attitude is far more offensive to them as you seem to treat them like children who constantly need their hands held.

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      • Fountain says:

        Dear ean – you have no idea what you’re talking about. Resorting to name calling is a really mature way to engage in this conversation.

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    • Fountain says:

      At Blender – not really. A generalization? Yes, I’ll admit that. However, white people can’t experience racism. You clearly read one of my other comments explaining how racism is a system of prejudice based on power. We live in a white-supremacist society which means that whiteness, as a system, has power to enact prejudice on people of color. White people may experience prejudice, but they can’t experience racism because of that historical power dynamic. I followed up my comment of “spoken like a true white dude” with an explanation. Eric was clearly annoyed because someone was implying that white people (him) shouldn’t do something (wear headdresses). White people tend to have a certain amount of entitlement and don’t like being told they can’t or shouldn’t do something because they are used to having access and doing whatever they want without consequence. I find it interesting how you choose to focus on how I’m supposedly “insulting” other white people without addressing the content of this article in the first place – the harm caused by cultural appropriation. You seem to be more concerned with white feelings than the experience of racism by people of color.

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      • Phalkor says:

        “white people can’t experience racism”

        That is insanely racist and you only don’t think so because you’ve redefined words to fit your personal biases.

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      • ean says:

        Seriously? look up the definition of racism. You are entirely wrong.

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      • Fountain says:

        To Phalkor – and people who wear headdresses and other offensive/appropriative/racist things at Burning man are redefining Radical Self Expression to fit their personal biases and ignorance.
        And no, it’s not racist. See every other comment I’ve written hear for an explanation as to why. Similar response to ean.

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  • Fountain says:

    Thank you so much for writing this piece! I’ve tried to bring this up in a few other threads. As a queer, mixed-race Anishinaabe/Irish trans person, it’s really hard to be at Burning Man sometimes. This is definitely a conversation that needs to happen and I wish people would really open up to it and not immediately dismiss it. I have to say I’m saddened by some of the responses here. There is some downright racist responses and there is defensiveness here, and the concept of artistic freedom is not an excuse to continue appropriation. It’s a direct continuance of colonization.

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    • Erin says:

      Thank you for dealing with the incredibly ignorant responses that were posted. I find it difficult to be patient with such hateful comments and you handled it beautifully!

      Much love!

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  • BettyBee Gallegos says:

    If you can prove my headdress is in fact an authentic piece directly attributed to your tribe then I will not wear it, until then see you in the playa.

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    • Fountain says:

      What is it with white people needing “proof” that racism exists or that something is racist? Would you question a journal article discussing the existence of sexism and occurrence of sexual assault on the playa? It’s like some guy saying “until you can prove sexism exists I’m going to keep grabbing all the boobs and butts I want cause that’s what I like to do”.

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      • BettBee Gallegos says:

        Sorry cupcake, I’m not white and Mexican, my roots go back generations of Northern Mexican Indians. Nice try though chief, get on your high horse move along.

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      • Blender says:

        Again…you are now insinuating that white people are all the same. Just an observation.

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      • ean says:

        costumes and stereotypes are not racism. Try again.

        Gonna wear any lederhosen or any European clothing on the playa. If so, you might offend my European sensibilities. I mean…dont you dare wear steampunk clothes as you are culturally appropriating European fashion.

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      • wtf says:

        ean – yes it is. Educate yourself. You sound like a complete idiot in all your posts.

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      • ean says:

        wow wtf…you really are dumb if you think that way. i feel sorry for you. Please leave the BM community, you sjw prick.

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      • wtf says:

        Ean – no. I’m not. Again – educate yourself. Turn off Fox News. Maybe read a book from time to time. Endeavor to listen to someone instead of flying off the handle throwing hate and random unrelated insults about rich mamby pamby SF brats or whatever nonsense all over the place. The BM community would be much better off without THAT. No one takes you seriously.

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      • I have a question for ean.

        Do you think it is ok for white people to dress up in blackface and ‘play black’? If, as a mixed-race African-American, I told you I found wearing the ‘costumes’ of the 30’s that made fun of black attributes was offensive, would you also tell me to get over it? You are free to use the N-word and say things like ‘I was treated like a slave.’ Sure. But if I said I found that hurtful, would you just tell me to f-off?

        I read this article as a plea for people to listen. I heard someone who comes from a different space than me, ask me to empathize with their world view. What I didn’t hear was a demand or any scolding. There was no self-righteousness, no one was on their high horse. If a woman said to me she felt that men using the B-word was hostile, I wouldn’t take that as a requirement that I stop using it… but more as an explaination that she sees the world in a way that this term is harmful.

        Why does someone sharing their perspective on oppression bother you? You don’t have to agree with them. And of course you should speak up if you feel the need. But I am at a loss for why you feel the need to change how the author feels – as though their world view is not legitimate because it does not jibe with yours.

        Empathy is a wonderful thing. Through it, we can build true community. Without it, we are sad and lonely.

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      • Erin says:

        Thank you, Goodnews Bear! Very good points.

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    • Fountain says:

      You realize you just called a native person “chief” right? You realize that’s… racist… right? You said you’re descended from Northern Mexican tribes. Would you really wear your traditional regalia to Burning Man? That’s just unfortunate.

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      • Victoria says:

        If it’s her regalia and she wishes to wear it at BRC your argument is invalid.

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      • BettyBee Gallegos says:

        Of course i realize you claim to be native descent, you’ve splashed your loud n proud stance so all can see. I thought the term chief was an acknowledgement of authority describing a person such as yourself that speaks for all of the entirety native people. Rascist ? perhaps in your narrow version of reality. It’s funny how somebody such yourself would be so judgemental and unforgiving of others, when that has been your life experience.

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      • Fountain says:

        To BettyBee – it’s interesting you said “I claim” to be native. You stated you’re descended from Norther Mexico. Did I dismiss that at all? And no I don’t speak for all native people. I speak for myself and am trying to add to this conversation. Funny how you say my definition of racism is narrow. If you look at your post you can see you were throwing chief at me to be an insult. As someone who’s ancestor/ family is from Mexico I would assume you would understand the experience of racism and genocide in your own personal experience and history. and also, why the hate at me expression my stance as a native person? There’s hella white people and people such as yourself doing the same thing. Interesting how you’re choosing to try to silence me and not them.

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    • Fountain says:

      To Victoria – sure. I’m guessing you also think it’s okay for her to say racist things? Since she did. And you said nothing in response to that.

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  • Terbo Ted says:

    I’ve researched this topic. Humans have worn feathers in their hair in various ways on every continent on earth before recorded history. No one culture owns the rights to this style of fashion or self expression.

    If we were to apply U.S. trademark or patent or copyright law to this issue, it would be expired and a moot point. And there is even less protection for intellectual property in other parts of the world.

    As an artist, I’ve painfully had to learn and realize that art has no meaning unless it has some sort of context. Appropriation gives context. If art does not make overt references to other cultural signposts it does not exist.

    Dear author, sorry you’re offended. But you play this game. Good luck Kafkatrapping the world.

    Looking forward to seeing screaming match confrontations over costumes on my vacation.

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    • Mimi says:

      This article is not asking people to not wear “feathers in their hair in various ways”, it’s specifically asking people not to wear war bonnets which are “earned as symbols of respect, honor and achievement. As Dennis Zotigh of the National Museum of the American Indian says, wearing a war bonnet you didn’t earn is like tying a Medal of Honor or Purple Heart to your chest that you didn’t serve for.”

      The article does not say anything about not wearing Native American styles like moccasins, for example. The war bonnet has a specific sacred significance.

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      • Toni says:

        A war bonnet represents how many of the other guys he killed. Without knowing the circumstances of how it was earned, was it defensive, was it offensive, who was the bad guy, it’s just another symbol of humans being warlike.

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      • Snowflake says:

        “The article does not say anything about not wearing Native American styles like moccasins, for example. The war bonnet has a specific sacred significance.”

        “Moccasins = kilt, top hat, or tutu. Have fucking at it”

        Not all you social justice warriors agree – according to this one, even moccasins are cultural appropriation …

        https://twitter.com/NoAppropriation/status/431947181759950848

        See… you’ve let this shit get out of control. Cultural appropriation is a ridiculous fad and an inherently biggoted concept dressed up as social justice. Try to fix some real world problems rather than looking to shame others from behind your keyboards.

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    • Feathers are used Worldwide. says:

      THANK YOU

      I’m all for not wearing INDIAN headresses to respect native indians, but there are TONS of other designs!!! AND there are ORIGINAL designs!

      Just look to Rio Carnival for a wide array of other designs.

      I’m sick of articles trying to shame people completely out of wearing feathers by saying native indians don’t want anyone else in the world to use feathers in headresses for religious reasons.

      If that’s true that’s like Burning Man appeasing christians by making sure no one practices any other religions on playa.

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      • Duh says:

        “Look to Rio Carnivale” isn’t necessarily a good solution to “stop appropriating other cultures”.

        How about not wear another culture as a costume?

        How about make something yourself?

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  • AJ says:

    So… Radical Inclusion, except for you, White Person in the Headdress. Ironic?

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  • Elliot says:

    Wow. Great article. To those people who are so defensive: it seems like maybe you just aren’t creative enough to come up with your own idea for a costume that isn’t offensive. Cultural appropriation isn’t creative or original, it’s just lazy. The childish entitled tone y’all speak with is disgusting and somewhat embarrassing for such a brilliant community. With all the talented artists out there, it’s a pity that you are lumped into the beauty of what burning man is about because it seems that you are as opposite of what the community stands for and hopes to achieve. You’re lucky radical inclusion is a tenet because without that it would seem that you are out of place.

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    • ean says:

      please dont wear any steampunk clothing then as you are culturally appropriating my European heritage.

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      • Duh says:

        OMG Ean, you’re from a science fiction alternate history timeline?
        FAR OUT BRO.

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      • Be more creative than a $300 head dress sold on Etsy says:

        Ean – Why can’t you understand the difference between EARNED, SACRED and religious type items and clothing. They didn’t mention, Moccasins or turquoise jewelry etc because those items , though cultural are not SACRED. Head dresses and War Bonnets are extremely significant to their culture. They symbolize earned respect and’or a ceremonial experience tied to a spirituality you know nothing about. It’s way different then your fucking top hat or your tutu or your kilt. Moccasins = kilt, top hat, or tutu. Have fucking at it. War bonnets = a purple heart/medal of bravery. Don’t wear it unless you share the culture.

        Also, why is everyone’s reaction to immediately act like an entitled child, “you can’t tell me what to do and if you do , FUCK YOU!” It’s the same as when I tell people not yo say the N-word and they throw a fit. Just don’t say it. Just don’t wear it. It ain’t your thing to decide. Your life will go on, you will find other more legitimate means of self expression, and nothing about your existence will be sacrificed, PLUS you won’t be a fucking asshole anymore. IT’S JUST NOT THAT HARD.

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  • Christian Black says:

    I will start out by saying that I respect your feelings on this issue, I really do. However, a rebuttal is in order. First of all, this article is written purely from the subjective opinion of the authors. I would like to hear from experts in the field about how culture actually works because it seems like the authors don’t understand it. There is no “one” culture among a group of people. Culture is constantly changing and evolving. Individuals share ideas, copy others, and innovate. Most importantly, especially in America, and in particular at Burning Man, cultures mix. That is as true now as it has been since the dawn of civilization.

    Now, why is appropriation only bad when white people do it? That is racism and it is offensive. No one is telling Native American people to stop wearing cowboy hats and blue jeans. I’m mostly Scottish and if you want to wear a kilt to Burning Man, be my guest.

    The comparison of wearing headdresses to blackface is also patently offensive. Blackface was intended to mock the racist stereotypes of black slaves for comedic purposes. A white man or woman wearing a headdress at Burning Man is the polar opposite of that. It is a sign of respect for the beauty of the culture and design, even if the authors fail to see it that way and even if the wearer doesn’t fully know the rich cultural and symbolic history of the headdress itself.

    I understand that headdresses and other regalia, in Native American culture, are things that people must earn. Those types of rules don’t apply to everyone. Besides, there is a difference between actual copying and costuming. Costumes traditionally mimic positions of great respect and achievement such as airline pilots, police officers, soldiers, etc.

    Lastly, everyone is entitled to an opinion but that doesn’t mean all opinions should be given the same weight. Irrational opinions, supported by nothing but subjective beliefs, should be given little weight. While we should all pay attention when someone says they are offended, it doesn’t mean that it is rational to completely change our behavior in response. Burning Man is primarily about mixing cultures. It is about change. Not just changing ourselves, but society and the world around us. This is done through sharing of ideas. This is not accomplished by imposing traditional beliefs and strict cultural rules on the population. Burning Man is full of offensive things but that is what makes it so great. People are free to express themselves there, even if others are offended by it. What the authors are asking for is special rules that apply only to them and then trying to root it in the principle of radical inclusion. But radical inclusion doesn’t mean we all must refrain from offending anyone, quite the opposite. It means that no one will be excluded for their own expression, despite how offensive to some it may be.

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    • Foundtain says:

      White people cannot experience racism. Racism is a system of prejudice built on power, power that white people possess because we exist in a white-supremacist society. White Europeans invaded and stole these lands, and attempted to exterminate native populations. People of color have not done the same to white populations. Therefore, a native person wearing cowboy hats or kilts does not carry the same weight of a history of oppression that it does when a white person wears a headdress. First white people try to completely wipe out native populations, and now they blatantly disrespect them by taking native regalia and donning it at party. I don’t understand what is so difficult to understand here.
      “Burning Man is full of offensive things and that’s what makes it so great”. There is a difference between being offensive and being creative that open our minds and realities. Wearing a headdress is racist. There is nothing great about that.

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      • Blender says:

        Well, that’s just small minded. Who are YOU to be the judge that white people cannot experience racsim? What is your definition of racism? And does that mean that you are allowed to spout off all off your personal feelings about whites and it can NOT be labeled as racism??? I guarantee you’ve offended several people with your words.

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      • Feathers are used Worldwide. says:

        not all feather headdresses are indian headdresses.

        Look at Rio Carnival for lots of other examples. Feathers have been used worldwide.

        I’m all for not using Indian Headdresses. It sounds like the article is saying not to use any feathers at all to appease native indian’s religion.

        I’m not for religious persecution of artists.

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      • Toni says:

        Actually white slavery was rampant in North Africa before the 1800’s. White Christians were a prized catch. One of the reasons that the US Navy was created was to fight that rampant problem.

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      • Heidi says:

        Actually, Blender, the definition of racism is defined by Sociologists (Scientists who study societies) and specifically defines racism as a power issue from a more powerful social group towards a less powerful social group. As there is not a more powerful social group in the US than ‘white’ folks, it is not possible for any other group to be racist towards ‘white’ folks.

        When another group is more powerful than white folks, then it will be possible for that group to be racist towards white folks.

        It’s a very simple definition, really.
        and for the record, I’m ‘white’ and yes, there’s a LOT of institutional racism I didn’t start, try not to promulgate and yet, am responsible for helping end. Consider it a challenge rather than an accusation.

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      • RL says:

        My rebuttal to this very silly attempt to hijack the very spirit of Burning Man is the story of a black artist painting the sacred Virgin Mary along with elephant dung and having it publicly displayed in a NYC museum… the mayor of NY fought to have it removed because it “HURT HIS CULTURAL FEELINGS”. The case went to court and guess what… the museum won. So if in the world of political correctness millions and millionsb of offended White people must shut up and accept a black person’s freedom to express themselves in such a manner… then Native Americans at BURNING MAN can do the same… get over it already!! The Holy Virgin Mary – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Holy_Virgin_Mary

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      • Lurker says:

        White people have never been on the receiving end?

        Why does everyone do so much to forget that Europe was repeatedly invaded by people from Africa and Asia after the demise of the Roman Empire?

        That Reconquista originally referred to the final expulsion of those African invaders from Spain?

        That a huge chunk of Poles bear Asian ancestry through repeated invasion from the Khans?

        Every race has experienced racism, Foundtain. Every individual is capable of being guilty of it. The self serving definition that allows whites to forever bear the stain of racism while all others go forth pure was designed AS a form of institutional racism–and is used, endlessly as such–as this article demonstrates.

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    • PurpleKoosh says:

      “It is a sign of respect for the beauty of the culture and design, even if the authors fail to see it that way and even if the wearer doesn’t fully know the rich cultural and symbolic history of the headdress itself.”

      Those words are all English, but they don’t make any sense in that order… How can something be a sign of respect when it’s patently obvious that the person doing that thing has NO understanding of it?

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    • Fountain says:

      To Toni – you’re talking about slavery when I’m talking about the systematic, intentional attempted genocide of native populations in north America. Yes, slavery is a form of genocide. And yes, slavery has existed in many places, by many people, in many times. That is a fact. However, the scale with which Europeans invaded, settled, colonized, and stole lands from indigenous people around the ENTIRE WORLD is the point here. North African countries did not do the same in Western Europe, and did not attempt to colonize other parts of the world. So your reference to the enslavement of white Christians is not exactly relevant in this discussion.

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      • Toni says:

        Whereas I totally agree with Fountain that the colonization of the New World was full of genocide, I don’t think artists should be held back because of that.
        Maybe we’ll have a fireside chat at the playa!

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    • Fountain says:

      To Blender – I’m confused. I clearly outlined exactly what I mean by racism in the very response you’re referencing. Racism is prejudice that is supported by power. We live in white-supremacist culture, which privileges whiteness and gives it, and by extension white people, power. This is not to say that all white people are inherently racist. It is to say that we live in a society that supports systemic racism and which white people benefit from. Other races can experience prejudice from each other, and in some ways colorism can carry the weight of racism by lighter skinned people of color against those with darker skin. However white people can ONLY encounter prejudice, they can’t experience racism. It simply doesn’t exist. I’m not spouting off my personal feelings against white people. I’m half white. All I’m doing is referencing history and trying to explain why wearing headdresses at burning man is not okay. You are experiencing my comments as a personal attack because you have not yet done the work to understand what I’m talking about.

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      • Toni says:

        If you make up your own definition of racism, i.e. “Racism is prejudice that is supported by power.”, then there is no chance that you can see other people’s viewpoints since they are based on the commonly accepted definition, “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”
        And the statement, “However white people can ONLY encounter prejudice, they can’t experience racism. It simply doesn’t exist.”…seriously?

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      • Fountain says:

        Toni – I see you Googled “racism” and copy/pasted the definition that popped up at the top. I didn’t realize Google dictated what was acceptable. Try these on, also found on the internet:

        “Racism is different than racial prejudice because it has the power to carry out systematic discriminatory practices through the major institutions of our society.”

        “In the United States at present, only whites can be racist since whites dominate and control the institutions that create and enforce American cultural norms and values… blacks and other Third World people do not have access to the power to enforce any prejudices they may have, so they cannot, by definition, be racists. ”

        This second one can be expanded to include Native Americans and other people of color.

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      • Toni says:

        Well, Doh! The definition of racism that I quoted is the general, most widely accepted definition. You quoted obscure, biased, agenda driven definitions and not what most people use.

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      • wtf says:

        Right. Because using the notion of radical self expression as an excuse to perpetuate racist micro aggressions isn’t a biased interpretation and agenda driven? Let’s try this – go more in depth into your search and understanding. Read a book on the subject. Don’t just google and quote the first thing that pops up as the most common and accepted and don’t assume because your white friend’s agree with you that it’s this the most common and accepted. Because you don’t know that. Just because you’ve never bothered to understand the intricacies of racism does not mean that a different definition that makes you uncomfortable and that does not match your own becomes biased and agenda driven.
        The definition you offered is absolutely true. And I agree with it. However racism does not end with that definition – it takes many forms and has many ways of being enacted and perpetuated. It is more complicated than stereotypes. Again. Challenge yourself. I can’t do the work for you.

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    • Contrast says:

      First of all, nowhere in the article does it say that only while people should stop wearing NA headdresses. Secondly, just because the original intent behind wearing of headdresses and blackface isn’t the same doesn’t mean they’re not equally offensive. It’s upsetting how many people who aren’t part of a culture a so quick to tell people who are why they shouldn’t be offended. If your need to wear an article of clothing is more importatant than people’s feelings, you’re an asshole.

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  • pikachu says:

    Cultural appropriation is the most absurd concept that has risen recently. In order to appropriate a culture, you need to possess it. Nobody possesses any culture! You can subscribe to ideas and expression of a particular culture, but you do not possess it.

    We live in a free world and we are free to express ourselves the way we want. Nobody should be able to tell us not to dress a certain way or speak a certain way.

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    • Jessica says:

      Cultural appropriation didn’t just pop up out of the blue and WE (those who have the funds and the means to attend BM) live in a free world but there are many who do not. So let’s honour the voices of minority community members who are telling us that wearing indigenous head pieces appropriates their culture.

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      • pikachu says:

        To tell somebody not to do something, you have to have the rights for that. You need to own something, that I would like to take. However, nobody owns the culture, no me dressing with feathers making be own the culture.

        On that note: that is how we evolved by copying something and extending to something new. That includes clothes, music, art, ideas, philosophies. What do you tell Japanese: stop using Zen because you stole it from Chinese Tao? Or chinese people to stop using Tao, because it is taken from hinduism? You see how absurd it is?

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    • Duh says:

      Try reading a book. Maybe you’ll learn something. I’d suggest starting with Said’s Orientalism. Its a good starting place for learning about the fetishization of other cultures etc.

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    • Be more creative than a $300 head dress sold on Etsy says:

      Literally, the definition of Culture, as pulled from Webster’s dictionary is

      ” the beliefs, customs, arts, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time
      : a particular society that has its own beliefs, ways of life, art, etc.”

      “Particular Society” are the key words there. Culture does, by definition, belong to a certain culture as that culture could not exist if a particular society with specific beliefs, practices, cuisine, weather etc. did not create it. It is actually fucking insane to think that culture can’t be defined by a group of people. Can you partake in another’s culture? of course. But don’t demand access to it because you think the shit they make is prettier than yours and you want it. If most people in the culture agree that they would like you to not wear a sacred item of THEIR culture while you blow Molly up your nose so you can dance all night, than yeah, I think they have the right to do that.

      I love Burning Man. I go. I dance. It’s wonderful, but I’ve never had to offend anyone to 1) look sexy 2) feel good and 3) radically express myself. Not to mention all the Moop that feather headdresses create!

      And before you all start talking about Tutu’s and Top hats and bullshit as if they’re the same thing as head dresses. They’re not and you sound like a fucking Trump supporter when you say shit like that.

      This matters because already there’s a whole group of people who have no idea that War Bonnets are even part of Native American culture. They’re part of the “burner look” (which is another fucking issue) and have been completely removed from their history, tradition and significance. Burning Man is amazing and offers a lot but it’s still a festival people, not a culture and to erase another’s so you can look pretty while you rave makes me think twice about the place I call home.

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  • pikachu says:

    on another note: the article has a very presumptuous tone. The authors seem to know better than others what is appropriate and what is not and tell this in a very commanding voice, even with instructions and recipes. It is worth for the authors to take a bit more humble approach in expressing their ideas, like “this is our unimposing opinion,… this is what we are going to do to follow our opinion…”

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  • Mike says:

    I wanted to buy feathers this morning but refrained from it cause they looked carnivalesque and over the top. If I would wear a headdress it would be cause I look up to the the wisdom and closeness to nature that it and the people wo traditionally wear it hold to me.

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  • Mike Hakonsson says:

    Wow, should BMO establish rules about what to wear? I realize that rules are not part of the discussion- but you have naked people walking around with children and families. Burning man is supposed to be about exorcising social norms. It’s social norms that confine and stifle us. I am sure they don’t mean to wear the headdress as a mockery.

    We should be more concerned about what’s in a person’s heart than what they are actually doing, right? When they are wearing headdresses and dancing around they are radically self expressing themselves. Maybe they want to be a warrior, what gives anyone the right to be offended by someone else’s desires.

    Isn’t being offended more of a personal problem?

    There was the comment about not wearing a purple heart “because you didn’t earn it” Burning man is not about correctness, or about earning anything. It’s actually about one week where you don’t have to earn anything. it’s about cutting loose and radical self expression- as long as no one is getting physically hurt, then it should not be a problem.

    Somewhere along here I read “try to have the conversation sober” That’s wild, the whole aurora of burning man is to cut lose, and I couldn’t think of a better counter inhibitor than alcohol, plus it’s legal.

    BMO is very adamant about obeying the city, county, state and federal laws, this should be all that is required. Just imagine how much fun it would be to stay sober at burning man so you can consider someone else’s feelings.

    I am the second generation of my family off the res. We don’t worry to much about tradition as much as we worry about how to grow excellent weed!

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    • Tricksey says:

      Great post. My biggest reaction to the OP was that BM is the one place where we don’t have to worry so much about cultural norms or other’s sensitivities and can relax. Isn’t that one of the reasons for going to such an inhospital place? To be able to do what we want? This idea that we need to do a ton of research into different cultures before BM so that we can make sure that no one ever is offended is just too much work and doesn’t seem to be in the spirit of BM. While we know about the headdress issue, what else is out there that could be complained about? I’m not going to do a ton of prep so that college-aged social justice warriors can make BM a “safe container” or whatever other stupid term they’re using today. Whatever happened to fuck yer burn?

      But p.s. Headdresses shouldn’t be worn on the playa for one simple reason – they are super MOOP producers. And I agree that it would be really lame to take a headdress that someone had to earn and wear it as a cosume. But mass produced costume items don’t have to be earned and I really don’t see the issue. I won’t wear one because I don’t want to deal with SJWs but I think that it’s sad.

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  • RL says:

    Dearest Burners, Natives, Immigrants, Migrants, Hetro’s, Bi’s, Tri’s, Neither’s and People of All Colors, Shapes and Sizes,

    I am a Diverse Human, born of bits and pieces off/from all the above… And my perspective and opinion is as valid and invalid, and on par with yours.

    I have read and listened with open heart and mind to all of this and am grateful to you all for sharing… My understanding of radical freedom and radical inclusion is that we all must make efforts to allow everyone the right to their own self expression without judgement and censorship… That’s the beauty, wonder and power of Burning Man!!

    Howsoever you choose to express yourself, your words, your music, your art, sexuality, culture, etc., is your freedom… and I must accept without prejudice, judgement and insults!!

    The guiding principles of Burning Man allows us all the freedom to dance around naked or wearing a Christian nun’s outfit, a Native American headdress, a Hindu turban, an African necklace, a European bracelet… or whatever one chooses to wear or not wear. The Default World’s rules and definitions and history have no place to control our freedoms of self expression on the playa.

    Of course a Christian, or NA, or Hindu, or African, or European can express that they are “feeling” hurt because they don’t like the way I’m dressed or the music I’m playing or art I’ve created… but that only proves that they didn’t read the rules and or don’t respect my rights… and they should go back to their prejudiced default world of White vs Black vs Brown vs Red.. and not waste their time on the playa pretending to be a Burner while promoting censorship and limiting people’s freedom.

    AND FYI: grabbing someone’s ass without permission is NOT the same as wearing a costume at a Halloween party in Nevada!!

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    • Fountain says:

      Taking something that is not yours and ignoring the fact that it is offensive is wrong, regardless of whether you have experienced it or not. Sexual assault is wrong. Racist cultural appropriation is wrong. Native people are not a Halloween costume. Women are not objects. Neither should be at the disposal of someone else for that person’s amusement or expression. Both involve someone taking something that is not theirs. How is this difficult to understand?

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      • egan says:

        Quit assuming all natives think it is offensive. they dont. they mostly think its funny that well to do virtue signalling white upper middle class privilege leftists think its offensive. Its far more offensive for a white person to tell them what they think.

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      • Tricksey says:

        Honey,

        If I buy or make a headdress, it’s mine. Not yours, mine. This is Amerika and you don’t own things that I’ve bought with my own money or made with my own hands.

        Stop drinking whiskey, you’re appropriating my culture. You don’t own it! Forget about the fact that you can buy it any store, it’s my culture and I’m offended by you drinking MY whiskey. See how stupid that sounds?

        I would never wear a headdress because I really don’t want to deal with any hurt feelings. I woudn’t wear a ceremonial one that had to be earned (unless I earned it) ever. But it’s ridiculous that you’re trying to stop me from going to the costume store and buying whatever mass produced item I want.

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    • Cassie S says:

      You may technically have the “right” to dance around in a turban or a war bonnet, but that isn’t justification for it being OK… The community has spoken, and they’re (justifiably) insulted by random people dancing around in their sacred cultural wear. What is simply a cool-looking hat to you means a lot more to Native Americans. That hat has a specific cultural meaning and to don it without earning it cheapens that. It’s disrespectful, and considering the overarching historical context of colonialism and violence against Native Americans it’s simply insulting. I can’t understand why people insist on doing something that they know is harmful to an entire culture of people.

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      • egan says:

        No…actually they havent spoken. This is just more white upper middle class social justice warrior bay are rich privileged white people trying to virtue signal to make themselves feel better.

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      • Duh says:

        Well Eagan, if you read the blog post that you’re actually commenting on *right now* you’ll see that there are First Nations and people of color who *WROTE THIS POST* who are telling you its offensive.

        Go ahead and crawl back into whatever MRA mastrubation subreddit you came from and leave the discussion for grown folks who’ve done their homework

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    • Pirate Nick says:

      Last 3 posts were the best! Hakossan, Trixey, & RL are right on. BM is the one place that we can all forget about the outside world (if only for a week). If I wear a headdress to work everyday it is offensive, the playa should be a safe place to make these questionable possibly offensive moves and NOT be judged (or labelled racist) for it.
      Most are mass-produced costume items. If the people/person who wrote the article are at an actual Halloween party are they going up to the Indian in the group of friends who dressed up as the Village People to talk to them about how offensive it is? If so when do they get a chance to just relax and enjoy the party?
      The naked people with families around is a great example, if this article was talking about that race would not be in play, and everyone would be talking about self expression. That situation causes a great conversation between the parent and child on the playa about expression and freedom that only exists at BM. In my early days on the playa I witnessed some sex acts in public, that is probably wrong & very frowned upon now. But those experiences have shaped who I am as a person and a burner (some great stories between friends too). Please don’t take these things away from OUR culture (I know a festival has NO culture, don’t yell at me Fountain). Can’t the Natives in these situations have a great conversation with a friend (or stranger) about how it offends them, and can’t that conversation and informative moment be a positive outcome of some ‘white dude’s’ idiotic attempt at a ‘sweet costume’? That moment between those people is what BM is about. Learning from one another, not just calling someone racist because they don’t agree with your opinion on a subject.
      Before I say the next part I want to say I love and respect the cultures of NA people. They are truly amazing and loving people. It is awful what their ancestors went though and the fallout over the century+ since has not been pretty either. But, I would love to see census info and the the % of Native Americans attending the event. I am not even sure if the census asks that (been a few burns since filling one out). Are we really adjusting what we want to wear for 5% or less of our population? I know & agree it is not OK to offend a single person. But like Hakossan said, is there any intent on their part? I think their intent is to wear the ‘sweet costume’ not to offend people. In all these definitions of racism was intent ever brought up? I am sure you can’t be racist by accident if it is really about power over another culture. Is that ‘frat boy’ gaining any power over someone by wearing the headdress & not knowing it is offensive or without knowing it is worn like a medal of honor? I don’t think so. Ignorant yes, racist no. So please live & let live on the playa, it is only a week long. Have that great conversation that was caused by unintentional offensive behavior. AND ENJOY THE PARTY!

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  • Lans Ellion says:

    This isn’t about cultural appropriation. The concept of cultural appropriation is ludicrous to the extreme and an extremely racist concept. It requires that we all follow the culture of our race and denies individuals the right to step outside of her or his cultural boundaries to explore other cultures. It would be absurd to state that we all have to dress in the style of our ancestors and that we are forbidden from using styles of someone else’s ancestors.

    The real issue in these cases is not stealing someone else’s culture or “appropriating”. The issue is whether we should be sensitive to the norms and desires of cultures with which we do not identify or actively participate in. The answer to this question is going to be complicated and comes down to whether we think the particular cultural request is worthy of our respect.

    Flag burning in the U.S. is a great example. For some people flag burning is a sign of disrespect and highly offensive. These people request that no one burn flags. However, others do not respect that request (for whatever reason) and burn the flag anyway. This is one culture specifically choosing to perform an action that offends another culture. This happens in countless ways in our society from actions that are religiously, politically, philosophically, stylistically, or personally offensive.

    Wearing a Native American headdress once you are aware that some Native communities have requested that you do not is making the choice that you do not care about their request. We all have that right to choose to follow or deny the request of another culture. Personally, while I have no problem with flag burning, I respect the requests of Native Americans on this issue and would not wear a headdress. But this is a choice that I make on every issue and in some cases I may choose to respect a culture and in other cases I may decide I have good reason not to do so.

    So, don’t say this is an issue of cultural appropriation. It’s not. The real issue is whether people think the request of some Native Communities to not wear headdresses should be respected.

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    • Tricksey says:

      Great post!

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    • Pirate Nick says:

      I agree with Trixey again. Great points!

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    • Lurker says:

      I don’t care about their culture. Not one whit. I think it would be best if their culture were utterly and completely crushed. Destroyed. Wiped from the face of the Earth and the memory of Humanity.

      Not the culture of the First Immigrants-those called erroneously ‘Native’, but the culture of the stereotyping whiners that seek to place us all in rigid castes forever trapped in the cultural norms they deem appropriate for us.

      The folk who seek to set us, one upon the other, in perpetual indignant warfare.

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  • Atheen says:

    We aren’t telling you that you can’t wear that, we’re telling you we think you look like a douchebag wearing that.
    up to you what to do with that info

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  • Brigit says:

    Thank you for this article. To me it is simple–we have been asked by a cultural group not to wear something that is part of their cultural heritage. Simple enough. Insisting on continuing to wear it after that is just arrogance and self-entitlement, end of story. Besides–they are MOOPy as well. Have a great Burn everyone–and leave the feathers at home.

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    • Feathers are used Worldwide. says:

      the way this is written, we’re also being asked to not wear Rio Carnival headdresses that have feathers, or any original pieces of head art that have feathers, etc.

      I appreciate not wearing indian headdresses, and think people look like asses in them.

      but it’s a real stretch to tell people that the complete use of feathers in any design is indian appropriation.

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  • DeeDee Love says:

    When I first caught wind of this issue, I must admit I thought it was a bit silly… I was very uneducated on this issue. THANK YOU for writing this article. I am a white woman who truely wants peace and harmony but I truely did not know the history of war bonnets and headdress. I did not wear them myself but saw no harm in it. I am sorry and will make a true effort to spread this message. These words of pain have touched my heart. I hear you.

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  • Atheen says:

    Hubby thinks I oversimplified my comment too much.
    I don’t think there should be rules about how to dress at Burning Man. But you should be aware of what you are communicating with your costume, intentionally or not.
    I can’t tell you what to wear, but you also can’t tell me how to feel about what you wear.
    Many Burners associate the war bonnets with negative burner stereotypes. So while you may intend to communicating respect and a connection with Native peoples, many people in the community actually see it as a symbol of something very different.
    Costumes communicate, and they communicate within a cultural context. You can sit alone in your bathroom in blackface all day long, but as soon as other people see it, their thoughts, feelings and history become relevant.

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  • Pedro Cervenka ( turnerbroadcasting) says:

    An incredibly well written essay. The expression of the artist or the participant is clear – avoid crushing overtones that build off the secondary meanings of Ones that forces others into prejudicial realm. Just as we have a culture that tends to forget the great filmmakers like Kelly Reichhardt, Hal Hartley, and (although some try to forget him) Lars Von Trier – and we go with second best film runs that seemingly express themselves in a generic, culturally accepted fashion… It’s probably a good idea to be equally wary of self expression that embraces cultural language that strips out the neat stuff, the nuance – and leaves us with symbols that can be a real downer for some… I mean, seriously -you go to the Burn, and unlike some live entertainment event – you’re really a part of it. What if you met someone who was Navajo? How cool would that be, if you did, and you weren’t at the moment happening to wear something that to you just happened to look cool but transmits the story of the destruction of one’s people into a party hat. The best advice? Be ready for everything, including meeting someone who is from the Navajo or Paiute, or San Idlefonso Pueblo…. Sure, it’s a fine line on this one … there’s self expression, then inclusion. The trick here is that re-using someone else’s designs , be they tribal or otherwise – might not be the best way to go even if other people are doing it. I could skip the head dress, but damned if setting up dreamcatchers at the trash fence might not be a bad idea. Would like to catch a really nice dream with one.

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  • Cassie S says:

    I simply can’t wrap my head around people’s insistence on wearing Native American headdresses after the Native American community has said time and time again that it’s completely inappropriate for random people to party in them at festivals. It’s simply not OK!

    These headdresses have a specific cultural meaning and to don them without earning them cheapens that. It’s disrespectful, and considering the overarching historical context of colonialism and violence against Native Americans it’s simply insulting. Knowingly causing harm to indigenous communities isn’t edgy or cool. You might think you’re “rising above” all the PC nonsense by not giving a shit. You’re not. There’s nothing radical about disregarding the harms of cultural appropriation… you’re just patting yourself on the back for aligning with the status quo.

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  • Mckenneth says:

    Yess.. please refuse service or gifts to anyone who is inappropriately appropriating anyones culture. Please negate this mindless idea of a bohevian utopia where everyone’s presence is cherished and human interaction relies entirely on positive vibes. There are clowns at every festival amd its not your job to make everyone feel special. Make them feel unwelcome and disapproved because these social interactions are nothing more than clique-ey circles of party friends and awkward sexual approaches from strangers, the same as they are in real life. There is no point in trying to pretend this to be some kind of condescending elevated form of human interaction. Raver and Coachella transplants are exactly who they are 51 weeks a year, same thing with burners. Why pretend like this is any different at any other time??!

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  • Star says:

    as part native hawaiian I approve of this message.. it is a time of transition for mainstream to support and stand with indigenous peoples.. let alone BM people.. .. If BM crew was to start helping indigenous culture, be active , then maybe it would go over well to wear some symbolism.. lots of ways to do taht without wearing RITUAL items.. I am even open to mock ritual items.. with the right spirit.. I think putting too much importance on inatimate objects like headdresses would be a bit of a reach IF the USA wasnt founded on senseless slaughter, IF the indigenous tribes were not oppressed, IF the pipeline were not a threat ( treaty violation ) that they seem to be fighting on their own save one or two actors, IF indigenous tribes were given mutual respect and full restoration ( HOW? ).. IF .. Love is ALL. If you are going to wear one anyway go within and ask your Source your higher guidance what it has to say and go with that. I would like to see BM have more of an outreach for expansion year round and not just a once a year event with local decomp and regional. Think of what we could do if many of us got on the same page with Change. I can not guarantee this will happen. I am the change .

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  • mysteryoneal says:

    Perhaps the individuals who feel some sense of loss when seeing the costumes and traditions being worn or practiced by those who are not one of their own kind could look to the individuals (usually of their kind) who are selling their traditions and ceremonial garb to outsiders. Perhaps the outsider who celebrates an indigenous culture with limited understsnding is less to blame than the indigenous individual who has appropriated what is supposedly the western (white, european, whatever) tradition/culture…by trading their indigenous culture for profit and possessions.

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  • egan says:

    Can i get offended when someone culturally appropriates my European culture by wearing steampunk outfits or a kilt?

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  • anon says:

    Perhaps there is a better way for you to help the native tribes of the world than becoming the fashion police at Burning Man.

    Report comment

    • Fountain says:

      Can you let us know how which organizations or groups you’re actively involved in which support and stand in solidarity with Native communities? I’m interested.

      Report comment

    • Fountain says:

      And also – native communities don’t need *help*. More often than not, we just need non-native folks to stop talking, listen, reflect, and then either stand with us or knock it off. Exactly what this article is requesting and which, apparently, many people are unable to do. this article is requesting understanding and is an attempt to grow the consciousness of the Burning Man community. all good things.

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    • tm says:

      i was thinking the same thing. I’m partially NA but don’t agree with the whole ‘don’t use indian names, images, clothing,’ etc. thing. I’d think that awareness of a culture comes thru sharing of its values, myths, costumes. Are we NA so damn self-righteous that we don’t want anyone doing anything, anywhere at any time?

      Also – it occurs to me that the first forms of life on this continent ruled it for millions, not hundreds of years:Trees. Given that fact, how DARE we built crap out of murdered trees and then BURN THEM.. Just something to think about…

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      • caresaboutourculture says:

        I am native american and tribal leader don’t believe people wearing a mass produced or imiatation head dress are being respectful. The headdress is not a costume but carries deep meaning to those warriors that earned it. it is highly disrespectful and more when those wearing them don’t learn about the culture, history or knowledge why it is important to the different Native American Tribes.

        if you are part NA and don’t find it disrespectful it may be in part of not learning your culture or your family has been removed to destroy the NA and make those think like a white man. Someone’s grandparents or parents thought it would be easier if culture, language and way of life was not shared so their family members could fit into the white world. If you are part NA may you find time and ask questions about your tribe/tribes. Also find out why “redskin” is not showing respect either.

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  • Jamie says:

    Open your mind. Live in the now. People are good. You attract and see what is inside your heart. I’m sorry your focussed outward, turn within. Maybe you should feel this pain to deal and grow. I wear a beautiful mohawk that is sacred and special to me. It holds the highest intentions of love and light and if that triggers pain for you I am happy to be your mirror and help you heal your wounds. That’s why we burn, to express and heal each others differences. If you bring your hatred with you to the playa, that is all you will see. When you let go and believe in love, your heart will be overflowing! All these people are wearing headdresses, feeling inspired as peacful warriors of the heart and the emotions! No ego! War is ego and pain and misunderstanding which is what this silly post is breeding :-( Wake up, we are ready for you with arms wide open when your ready.

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    • Toni says:

      Nice post Jamie!

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    • Bit says:

      Jamie, I think your the only one that gets it here. Odd there is no rebuttal.

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      • wtf says:

        Well here’s a rebuttal. I think this post is pretty ignorant. Jamie is completely overlooking a really complex history and failing to look at his part in perpetuating a lot of that pain because he has “good intentions” or is appropriating a mohawk “out of love”. He’s essentially saying “hey, I know a lot of really messed up shit happened to you but don’t bring that here. Don’t ruin MY high”. Everyone bleeds red right? Let’s be color-blind so we don’t have to acknowledge or change our practices because, you know, that’s just inconvenient. Other things that were inconvenient: the kidnapping of Africans into slavery, the forced removal of native people from their homelands, the kidnapping of native children into residential school systems, the institutionalization of trans/gay people. But hey, it’s up to those people to get over that right? His post erases the experiences of other people by labeling it as hate. Pain is not hate. Asking someone to contain their anger at having experienced systematic racism so that the person who benefits from that systemic racism can feel more comfortable is the ultimate ignorance and exercise of privilege. Instead of telling someone to censor themselves because it challenges you, maybe try listening to what they’re actually saying. Guaranteed that will be more healing that than you continuing to choose offensive behavior and dismissing someone’s experience of pain while trying to give them a hug.

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    • Pirate Nick says:

      Jamie, thanks for your beautiful post. THAT is BM. The true burners are ready to embrace everyone that will leave their baggage at the gate.
      wtf, I hope that when you hug your greeter this year you are ready to embrace all the mistakes that others might make with their offensive costumes. Look at them as a person, see who they really are, don’t just judge them for the mistake they chose to wear on their head.

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  • Ian A Wender says:

    Interesting. Must show respect for Native American sacred head dressing, but hey, Christian symbols…fuck them. White kids with dreds wearing kilts…No problem. Come on…

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  • Duh says:

    I wonder… is it the acute sense of entitlement that makes people stupid, or is it stupidity makes people feel entitled?

    The number of “burners” here that are whining about “free speech” or trying some other lame mental gymnastics in order to rationalize being able to do whatever the fuck they want, whenever they want without having to account for how these actions might affect others is unsurprising, yet somehow still disappointing.

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    • Tricksey says:

      The whole point of suffering through the inhospitable conditions on playa is to be able to do whatever the fuck we want. You can do whatever you want too. I could give a shit if you’re offended. Go hang out with people who march in lockstep with you if you can’t handle diversity.

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      • Pirate Nick says:

        Tricksey is right again. She is just saying your right to be offended, should be equal to our right to wear what ever the fuck we want. I am not wearing anything offensive, but if I did by accident I would not go out of my way to change the behavior because I found out it offended someone. It is Burning Man people, again it only lasts one week.
        I love all cultures and people, have friends of many races, if I accidentally offended them at Burning Man I would say, ‘sorry, its Burning Man’. Not get rid of my costume forever & beg for their forgiveness.

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  • QEll says:

    This issue has made me feel increasingly uncomfortable at BurningMan. Although not seen as an ‘issue’ by all, most have not even considered it’s implications. Through my experience most individuals wearing headdresses I have prompted a discussion with are foreign, and are not clued in to the atrocities that is bored into Americas history. Education gives choice. Why I see this particular theme of cultural appropriation a touchy one at Burning Man is because of the players. Every culture has been abused by some other at sometime or another, but Native Americans were massacred here and have explicitly asked to refrain from wearing headdresses. You can’t kill your cake and eat it to.

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    • pleasegetrekt says:

      you must be new here…you appear to be too sensitive for interaction on the scale of burning man…if you came to party, you are doing it wrong…it was, is and always be the magic of chaos, no matter what they try to rebrand it as. we will hold out, we will push your boundaries, we will fight on against you and any other blipvert culture police.

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  • neolithic says:

    But if the headdress has never been to battle and only appears real then it’s a show/act. Just like people dressing up on Halloween. I always thought it was a form of flattery when people wanted to feel like great warrior Chiefs. I had no idea this was going on. I dance all the time like I’m an Indian going into battle (no headdress of course) no one says shit. Looks like YMCA camp is gonna have to regroup.

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  • serge says:

    i think the issue that some of the comments are not considering is the history (assimilation, theft, and genocide) that native Americans have suffered from. Dressing up like a viking, or partying as a geisha is poor taste and poor judgment – not cool – while dressing up like an “indian”, and partying on the land that your ancestors stole from them, and then marginalized for years, is downright offensive and has no excuse. if you are OK with native American headdresses at burning man, then you would be OK with a party/theme camp based on a Plantation..

    additionally, i think an earlier comment was accurate when mentioning that many of the culprits are not usually american…. education is key. I will be asking those to reconsider wearing anything that makes others feel unsafe.

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  • offended says:

    Well then, nobody better dress up as a white person or I’ll be offended. Do you realize how stupid that sounds.?.?.?.?.?

    Report comment

    • Fountain says:

      If you read many of the comments above you’ll understand why your statement makes no sense. There are a lot of people here doing a good job explaining why this is an important discussion.

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  • offended says:

    So that is saying people better dress as their own background, or you will offend someone. So if I dress in fur will I offend bears? I thought Burningman was free expression.?.? so if someone wears a Tu-tu and is not a ballerina, is that offensive? The list can go on and on and on and on.

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    • Fountain says:

      Again, you’re conflating things which can’t be compared. Bears and ballerinas have never experienced attempted genocide, colonization and systemic racism the way indigenous and people of color have. I don’t know the entire history of ballet, I believe it originated in Italy and France. So no, a white person dressing up in attire worn by dancers that originated in Europe is not at all the same thing.

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      • stringcheese says:

        In order to combat the racism which you claim is so rampant, don’t you think you should be inspiring people to come together despite their cultural heritage, despite their skin color, despite their continent of origin? If so, don’t you think you can formulate your argument in such a way that doesn’t constantly obsess over these differences? Seems counter-productive.

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      • wtf says:

        @ stringcheese. I totally agree – I absolutely think people need to come together. I’m not trying to be divisive, yet I can understand why you might think that. I’m just trying to give more voice to important things that really need to be discussed and which seldom are because they are difficult conversations. However the approach you’re advocating for is the “can’t we just all get along” approach, which is beneficial for white/straight/cis-gender/etc. people because it means they don’t have to acknowledge their positions of privilege, current or historical context, or change their behaviors. It’s easy to advocate for not rocking the boat when the boat mainly carries you (not you specifically but “you” as a general term).

        Yes, these things are rampant. Just because you (or someone else) may not experience one or all of these things doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It’s okay to say racism exists and that it’s everywhere, because it’s true. It doesn’t mean “all white people are racist and bad”. It just means there are systems in place that inflict harm on communities of color.

        And also, choosing not to discuss differences erases and silences the experiences of people who have experienced oppression. By not listening to their experiences and supporting them in what they need and are requesting, there is no justice or equality for anyone, and so we can’t actually come together.

        Ignoring differences only serves to normalize a certain group of people and maintain the status quo, which unfortunately serves a very small percentage of people. Bringing differences front and center has brought about some beautiful change: the various waves of feminism, the Civil Rights Movement and Black Likes Matter, the Idle No More movement in Canada, and LGBT rights and gay marriage. Not to say that all is well now for these communities now, there is still so much work left to do by all of us, white, straight, etc. people included. The point is that these acknowledge, celebrate and honor differences and the experiences of the people who they support, and they HAVE indeed brought people together.

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  • Terbo ted says:

    The Beatles famously wore garish pseudo military uniforms on the Sgt. pepper album cover. They were clearly not actual soldiers and it was during wartime when real soldiers and civilians were losing their lives. They were anti-war. How are we to look at that?

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  • Dimitri says:

    The Rastas what their dreadlocks back.

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  • Fountain says:

    I find the amount of anger, violence and hate in the responses above to be discouraging and, honestly, ironic and pathetic. I’m surprised by how much hate is being directed at the authors, and commenters who are trying to support and hold this article, which is part of a much larger and important conversation.

    How about this: I’m going to radically express myself by calling ya’ll out on this bullshit practice of wearing headdresses and mis-appropriating other clothing, medicines and traditions from indigenous people. And because everyone here seems to use this idea of radical self expression as reason to do whatever they want and then assert that no one can get offended, I’m going to say wearing a headdress when you’re not native is racist. Following the logic above, no one is allowed to be offended by what I said.

    In all honesty though, what is so frightening about being asked not to do something which, clearly, has caused hurt among many folks who are also part of this community? Why is it so threatening to acknowledge that maybe something that’s gone on wasn’t the best? Isn’t that kinda social skills 101? Recognize something was done that was harmful, learn from it, apologize, and do better next time. No one loses. Everyone grows.

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    • no fucks gibbon says:

      having just read all of the comments on here, i think yours are the most racist and narrow minded.

      If someone gets offended that im wearing womens clothing, or none at all, or dreadlock wig, or afro wig, or playing with a wheelchair, or anything that is not normally attributed to my gender/race/style/culture, well thats their problem to grow past.

      do what you want, experiment, and above all MAXIMIZE HAPPINESS!

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      • Fountain says:

        Actually, they’re not. They just happen to be some of the most real and challenging and therefore tend to make people the most uncomfortable and defensive. Case in point – you.

        If you dress up in an “afro wig” or a “dreadlock wig”, which, btw, is a form of black face, then no it is absolutely NOT on anyone else to “get over” being offended. It is on YOU to recognize that what you’re doing isn’t okay. Check your privilege. Challenge yourself. Burning Man is not an excuse to exercise latent racist/sexist/ableist/homophobic/transphobic/whatever tendencies in the name of radical self expression anymore than free speech is an excuse to throw racist/sexist/ableist/homophobic/etc comments at people.

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      • no fucks gibbon says:

        Bahaha, i was hoping you’d reply and make us all laugh. Thank you. <3
        Going to bring an extra purple afro just for you

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      • Fountain says:

        Really? That’s all you can come up with? I feel bad for you.

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      • almost says:

        Wow Gibbon – you’re so open and proud of your racism.

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    • Pirate Nick says:

      Fountain,
      Calm down on the violence thing. Not a single post has said that violence is ok. Where are you getting that?
      I think some of the things you have mentioned are hateful. It is hateful to label people you have not met racist. You are very one-sided and I don’t think you understand that people are entitled to their opinion on the subject.

      Report comment

      • Fountain says:

        There are a lot of people saying hateful things in these threads (i.e. Egan). Hate is a form of violence, through speech or act. This the hateful things being said to me and others here is violent. I find it interesting you think I am one sided, yet you haven’t said that to anyone else. Is it because I actually trying to call this stuff out and say the difficult things that need to be said? I am all for people exploring themselves and having new experiences. That is what this event is for – I’m not arguing against that. The issue here is that people such as yourself decide that even if you offend someone you’re not going to apologize or change your behavior. That is incredibly one-sided – you are placing the value of your personal experience over the experiences of entire communities of people. There is no room for growth on your part. If someone could present a stance that makes sense I would gladly consider. But people here are simply dismissive and jump to defenses rather than engage. They conflate racism with veganism and native people with ballerinas. The thing is, this stuff doesn’t just stay at burning man. It’s not “just a week”. It’s everywhere, all the time. Just because you don’t experience it in your day to day doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

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      • Fountain says:

        And also – I don’t believe I have directly said to anyone “you are racist”. I have said behavior is racist. I have said words are racist. I have not said “you are racist”. This is the issue and why these conversations are getting nowhere. As soon as the word “racism” is used, white people immediately get defensive and focus on the accusation of “i, racist” and fall into their own feelings, fears or guilt of being just that. No one wants to be called that and I realize that no one here would actively try to be that. However racism is not simply perpetuated by folks who identify as such. It is perpetuated in many subtle ways, such as through micro-aggression, which burning man and this thread are full of. This focus on thinking people such as myself are flying around calling everyone racist is, for one, not true, and is also redirecting away from the issue at hand – namely the experience of native and people of color at burning man. This leaves zero room for consideration of actual systemic racism and how it is perpetuated.

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  • Shane says:

    Uhhhh. How about no thanks. I’m going to celebrate my 1% (or possibly more) native heritage – I’m pretty sure my great-great grandmother dated a Native American. So I’m definitely going to wear a feather headress and native clothing. Tell you what, you concentrate on having fun and enjoying burning man, and stop focusing on remaking the world in your image, and you will have a better time, and actually be more at peace. Oh, one more thing: the next time you write an article like this, make it 2 paragraphs. You’ll get your point across much better without the bullshit.

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    • wtf says:

      Right Shane. So in other words, what you’re saying is: please silence yourself because your words make me uncomfortable and it’s inconvenient for me to acknowledge that there might be something more important that challenges my vapid existence.

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  • Ben says:

    The biggest problem with this article is that cultural appropriation isn’t inherently bad. (It’s also inescapable. Every bit of new culture has roots in what came before). Appropriation can be a celebration of culture instead instead of theft… like when DJs do 90s mashups at Bootie LA. It’s bad when a movie casts a white person in black face, whereas a white person who becomes a serious student of Yoga and then teaches FREE classes is a good thing. Their class shouldn’t be banned for “oppression” and “cultural genocide”… as really happened at a university in Canada.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/11/23/university-yoga-class-canceled-because-of-oppression-cultural-genocide/

    That’s moronic no matter how colorful the language of the criticism.

    The article about Burning Man is another example of lazy, poorly thought out criticism regarding cultural appropriation.

    The article talks about respecting different cultures and then it uses “white bros” as its whipping boy. Whether or not white bros are obnoxious, you can’t make an article about respecting cultures and then single one out and take pot shots. The article also makes generalizations about white people who disagree with their point of view and, in the next paragraph, outlines how both sides should hear one another out and be open to other perspectives. Painting a caricature of those who disagree isn’t in the spirit of openness.

    Ultimately, it’s subjective whether you are appropriating culture in a positive, celebratory way or you are degrading and/or making fun of it for your own uses… the way these authors are taking cheap shots at white bro culture, while using stereotypes to get their point across. You have to decide for yourself if wearing a feather headdress is ok and recognize that you may have to defend it. Some criticism may be valid, but there’s a lot of dumb criticism out there right now that isn’t. It exists just so a person can get likes on social media.

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  • oshawn says:

    All some one is asking is for you to take your Privilege and execute a little compassion in your costume choice. its relay just that simple.

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    • stringcheese says:

      And I think nobody in their right mind is going to *intentionally* offend an entire culture on the playa. I think everyone here can agree to be compassionate.

      What we disagree on are the details. To me this sounds like a slippery slope to PC Principal giving people an excuse to be offended when no offense was intended.

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  • Peter says:

    Offer don’t offend. Be good. Like one another even if you disagree .

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  • Susan says:

    Always. Always it’s like this if you have a group of Americans talking. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL OF YOU??!!

    There is no such thing as race you fucking fools.

    http://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm

    Why do you think you have time to indulge this kind of inanity when you live on a global garbage dumb? First world morons. Wake up to yourselves.

    Or just discuss religion now – because that always goes well……

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  • nerf says:

    I am a vegan and your bacon smell and bacon worship offends me a great deal at burning man and makes me think of the horrors and atrocities of the meat industry., but you dont see me making a big deal about it and thinking others are bigots or insensitive. My god people….get over yourselves.

    Gnawing on a dead carcass while virtue signalling about a head dress to make yourself feel more progressive and cool makes you a freaking idiot in my eyes.

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    • wtf says:

      Speaking of looking like an idiot: you just compared a dietary choice to entire communities and cultures. Your choice not to consume bacon and your irritation at people who do has absolutely no comparison to hundreds of years systemic oppression. You all are really grasping at straws. Bears, ballerinas and bacon. Anything to avoid accountability I guess? I thought our community was smarter than this.

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      • Pirate Nick says:

        I thought our community was about choice whether it offends or not. Do you understand this stance starts to take the choices away?
        The extreme examples are perfect, please don’t take my bacon away!! I won’t go to the playa without bacon. When does it end? I guess is what we are saying.

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      • Wtf says:

        The extreme examples are not perfect. They belittle and dismiss experiences and issues that are very real, complicated and deserving of our attention. You can’t possibly agree that bacon can offend someone making a dietary choice the same way the descendants of people who attempted to annihilate another’s ancestors and who are now parading around in the sacred dress of that culture for their own amusement can. There is zero comparison and if I was a native person reading this I would be totally appalled that someone would make that comparison and that others would actually agree with it.

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  • Toni says:

    Think about it – worshiping a W A R bonnet!

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  • Ziganne says:

    If I’m understanding this right, it’s offensive to wear Native American garb associated with religious or ceremonial traditions. I get that. But braids, moccasins and tepee shelters should be okay, right? However, I just can’t resist throwing this out: Women are historically an oppressed group. We earn 75 cents to men’s dollar, and we weren’t even allowed to vote until 1920. So, should I be offended when I see a cross-dressing man on the Playa? Is this guy trying to appropriate my gender? My point is that humor, not condemnation, can be the best way to get your point across. If you see a pasty person looking ridiculous in a war bonnet, feel free to laugh. In other words, “Mock a sin.”

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  • RL says:

    Power Wow… someone deleted/censored my post!! Last night I wrote a rebuttal and used the example to show how ludicrous this whole post is! Maybe because I included a url to a Wiki page as a footnote..???

    I’ll try again…

    DO NOT HIJACK MY RIGHTS TO BURN!!

    Back in the late ’90s a dark skinned artist created an “art piece” depicting the Sacred Virgin Mary along with elephant dung. It was put on display in a NYC museum. This “artwork” offending millions upon millions of Christians of all colors and the mayor of NYC attempted to force the museum to take it down. The case went to court and the museum and won… It was decided that the freedom of the artist trumps millions of offended and hurt Christians.

    And this happened in the Real World… so Please let’s all grow up… Burning man is a freaking huge Halloween Party… a themed week long hedonistic event where participants are allowed to play fantasy to the extreme… If you don’t want to join in and let go and live and let live… don’t come… just like offended people were told to stay away from the museum if they don’t want to see their sacred Mary defiled.

    Please go take your censorship elsewhere!

    To read up on the example I offered Google Virgin Mary Elephant Dung

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    • wtf says:

      First of all, The Catholic Church has had a history of doing some seriously messed up things to a lot of people. So no, you can’t compare an artist making a statement against an incredibly oppressive institution to a white person wearing a headdress. Again – white person wearing sacred item of an indigenous community who is descended from Europeans who committed terrible atrocities against indigenous people around the entire world. THERE IS NO COMPARISON AND THESE EXAMPLES ARE NOT JUSTIFICATION FOR BEING DISMISSIVE AND ENTITLED. Native people are not costumes. Burning Man is not an excuse to wash your hands of privilege and ignore our responsibility as white people to undo racial oppression and end micro aggressions. But sure, turn a blind eye and continue perpetuating harmful practice. Your Privilege insulates you from harm.

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      • Toni says:

        So, if a Native American sells me a war bonnet replica and tells me it’s ok to wear it as a costume, you, as a white person, are saying that he can’t do that?

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      • wtf says:

        Okay well that makes absolutely no sense – not sure where you got that from. A Native person can sell whatever he/she wants. But you, as a white person, should be aware of complex histories and that wearing that is likely really offensive to a lot of other native people. Failing that, they’ll just think you look like an idiot.

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      • RL says:

        Dear WTF:
        So to use your logic, it’s OK to defile a person’s cultural heritage because some of people of that culture did “terrible” things… It is well known that “Natives” Were some of the bloodiest people on earth and slaughtered opposing tribes and brutalized women… “terrible”…. Therefore you are saying that it is OK to defile “Natives”! !

        Dude, you Ready messed up and twisted

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      • wtf says:

        RL. Question – when did I say it was okay to defile a person’s cultural heritage?
        I’m not even sure how to respond to you, or whether it’s worth my time, because what you said also makes absolutely no sense.

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      • stringcheese says:

        So its OK to offend someone just as long as their values match the values of the majority?

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      • Toni says:

        @wtf A war bonnet from one tribe may also be a symbol of genocide to another tribe. You can’t make blanket statements about ‘native people’ (to use your words).
        And what’s with the “you as a white person”?
        Skin color is irrelevant (plus you assumed something not true).

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      • wtf says:

        @ Toni – skin color is incredibly relevant. That’s what this whole article is about. If you actually were a person of color you would understand how very relevant skin color is. I’m guessing you’re going by your 1/8 blood quantum. However, white passing folks experience white privilege. And the way you’re responding to everything makes you sound like a defensive white person.

        Also, I didn’t make a blanket statement – I said “likely offensive to a lot of other native people”. I didn’t say “guaranteed to be offensive to every native person”. See the difference?

        Native people – someone who’s ancestors are indigenous to the land we stand on. In this case in the United States, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and in Canada the Metis, Inuit and First Nations. Does that help?

        And finally, the purpose of this article isn’t to discuss inter-tribal or inter-band (in Canada) histories and relations. It’s about discussing the mis-appropriation of indigenous clothing/symbols/medicines etc. by non-native/indigenous people. So your point is mute.

        Anything else?

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      • Toni says:

        Wrong on every count!
        And no, I’m not white nor were my parents.
        I assume you are a white dude/dudette?
        Also, it’s ‘moot’ not ‘mute’. :)

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      • wtf says:

        Toni – yes, I made a typo. Thank you for proof-reading. I noticed that after I posted and wondered if you were going to grab onto that, apparently I was right. I admit my brain is a little tired from trying to respond to senseless arguments and immature comments, like your last post.

        But do you really have nothing intelligent to respond with? Nothing else to contribute except to say “wrong!” without any supporting context? Nothing else of substance instead of a “haha you made a typo”?
        I have to say I’m disappointed. I didn’t expect you to revert to childish intelligence/maturity by clinging to a typo in an effort to make yourself feel superior/better.

        And yes, I’m white. Not sure what the point of confirming that was.

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      • Jacob says:

        @wtf, I think RL’s attempt to point out that you are white might be an attempt to insinuate that you are suffering from “white guilt” and are therefore fighting harder than you might otherwise. I wouldn’t know.

        To the earlier point, you did say, “First of all, The Catholic Church has had a history of doing some seriously messed up things to a lot of people. So no, you can’t compare an artist making a statement against an incredibly oppressive institution to a white person wearing a headdress.” To me, this kind of says that it’s ok to piss on the Catholics because they were terrible people, but the poor Natives don’t deserve it because they’re all pretty horses, tee-pees and majestic eagles.

        Personally, I feel that your bringing all this to a place where I try to escape from all this for a week is kinda marshing my mellow. You might as well bring campaign posters and hold political rallies. Let’s all just dance and have a good time out there, for just one fucking week, can’t we all just get along? No one out there killed hoards of Native Americans or is intending any harm. It’s all just appreciation of everything that makes us humans on earth. Ironically, people causing the controversy have also inadvertently caused others to become more informed about the history.

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      • Lurker says:

        I really like how the white person–WTF gets to tell all the non-whites how they’re supposed to feel and think and behave.

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  • Imagineer says:

    This is an interesting debate; college philosophy instructors should consider this subject for classroom discussions, there are lots of perspectives here to be heard.

    At what point does a depiction of a cultural symbol become disrespectful? Is it only regarding symbols that are earned? If someone walks around with a karate-esque black belt, does that offend every karate master who has spent years earning their belt? Who decides whether or not a person is worthy of the belt? Is *nobody* worthy of wearing a black belt? Surely not. Surely there are people who deserve to wear a black belt even though they may not have participated in the proper rituals or ceremonies involved. What if they deeply feel–on a spiritual level–that they are meant to be a master of karate but have never had the opportunities to study it formally?

    Is this a question of form or function? At what point does a collection of feathers become a “war bonnet?” And at what point does something devoid of feathers yet intended for the same function become an offensive stereotype? For instance, if I place a cloth on my head and call it a “war bandana,” does it become offensive and/or bigoted?

    Or is this an issue of *context?* If the person wearing the war bonnet is a white bro does it make it more disrespectful than a person with darker skin complexion? What if it’s a white person with personal ties to Native American culture and they are using the symbol in a respectful and informed way, instead of just to look cool? Are all contexts equally as offensive? If you answer yes to this question, then–in order to remain logically consistent—you must also believe all other depictions of every spiritual symbol of every culture in every context are also offensive and should be banned as well.

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    • RL says:

      Imagineer: Thanks for that sober breath… and while we’re taking context… Freakin Burning Man… a huge themed week long event… Halloween on steroids with funky rules and principles that promote freedom, inclusion, experimentation, community, etc, etc… I totally understand what the authors are saying and asking people to be aware of and I see it as an attempt to limit themselves and the community using guilt as a passive weapon… Their decision to view certain people in a certain way says more about them and their prejudices than anything else… to which they are entitled. But that’s their yoke to bare, not mine. Love, Light, Peace…. live and let live and stop trying to censor our burn!!

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  • ToMmY says:

    Respect is where you find it.

    I honor thoughts behind respecting headdress. Others will not.

    We will know each other by this respect.

    As to the epithets of and poised towards burners: some will see BurninMan as a hedonistic endeavor, and others learn from its principles. Some revel in the freedom provided by the principles, while others see it for self-gratification.

    We will know each other by this respect, too.

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    • RL says:

      ToMmY:
      “Respect” is a 2 edged sword that cuts both ways… Respect the rights of ALL… I respect and judge not Your freedom… And You respect and judge not My freedom.
      To attempt to guilt others into submission is 100% against the principles of BM.
      I personally do not, have not and will not wear a NA headdress because it doesn’t speak to me… however, for some people it does..? who am I or you to judge?
      I wish you find your birds of a feather and have a fantabulous burn!!

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  • Julie says:

    Glad to see so many burners standing up to the PC BS. I do understand the sentiments being expressed in the article and I respect the expression, but people have been completely brainwashed by liberal ideology and many have come to indulge in collective victim consciousness which is toxic for everyone, most of all those who indulge in it. Finding new ways to be offended and attacking those offenders will not help you move forward in life, it will just get you more stuck in the same self-destructive place. I am not saying that there isn’t real discrimination that needs to be seriously addressed, I am saying this isn’t it. And who am i to say what is real discrimination? I am a rational person with common sense and I am not going to outsource my reasoning to the whim of every group that fits a victim category. This is not calousness, it is just that a line must be drawn somewhere and each one of us must decide where to draw it.

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    • almost says:

      Julie – thanks for this contribution. I kind of feel the same way about sexism and misogyny. I get really tired of the wah wah wah PC BS from all the women I encounter. Thank you for giving me permission to tell them to take their victim stance elsewhere. I think women need to get over it. I mean I guess they may experience discrimination or something, but it’s not helping them to point it out. I’m just trying to enjoy my life, you know?

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      • RL says:

        Almost:
        You used a good seudonam but Way Off Mark would have been perfect.
        To compare a Halloween costume event where people celebrate each other and life with sexist and misogyny okay shows how ludicrous the logic of this post really is.
        Thanks for highlighting it for all to see!

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      • almost says:

        RL – one if two things is happening here:

        1) you win the award for completely missing the entire point. And my bad for assuming people here are intelligent enough to understand sarcasm.

        2) you’re attempting to unsuccessfully spin my response to support your opinions. In which case, you have completely condoned and even championed ignorance, racism and now misogyny. Congratulations.

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      • Julie says:

        Thanks for misunderstanding my comment Almost. That’s how the left opetates. If they claim to be all about PLUR (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) but do nothing but the opposite when they encounter ideological opposition. They claim to be about inclusion but exclude and demonize those who happen to disagree with them. If you are what you say you are learn to engage in a fair discussion, where you can respect your opponent even if you strongly disagree. Anyway, in reply to your misguided comment, everything I said applies to sexism/mysogeny also. There is real sexism and mysogeny for sure but there is also lots and lots of exaggeration and lies surrounding it. I have much of that first hand and have just as little sympathy for it as I do for any other exaggerated “offense”. All it does is make people less sympathetic to real offenses, and it does mire many women in victim consciousness, which hurts them most of all.

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  • Shaniqua Bear Jones says:

    This all kinda reminds me of the “stolen valor” thing. The one thing the article said that it was like “wearing a Purple Heart when you didn’t *earn* it”. I can see that, it’s important. Dress up like an Admiral, hang out with veterans, see what happens. Same thing.

    But, those damn headdresses look awesome! They’re beautiful and I like seeing them wherever (unless they’re cheap China crap). My wife spent a long time making an awesome feather mohawk, and it’s amazing, but probably will offend someone. Not sure who, but I’m sure there’s some group that died for the privilege to wear feathers in a row, down the center of your head with fiber optics in them bounded by victorian lace, so… what can ya do. It’s mimicry. It’s flattery. It sucks that potentially genuine people are made to be dicks about it, because other people were dicks back in the day and all they wanted was to do was just express whatever they like, because freedom and the things look amazing. It’s not like they’re dancing in circles making wah-wah-wah noises and talking about “the drinks at Distrikt flow like the wooly locks of a Pink Mammoth” with a Native accent or whatever. They’re not being intentionally racist or harmful and I don’t think that anyone can claim that “no one can ever wear feathers in any kind of arrangement on their head ever” because of empathy. People may not do black face for fear of public shame, but we still wear costume afros, is that not the same? Should black people complain about that? What about large gold chains? that too? You’re not taking my smaug tho, that is my survival blanket in the desert.

    But I guess the problem is that this is ultimately asking people who have no respect, to directly have some for you. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that’s going to happen. People who already have respect, probably won’t wear them anyway.

    Maybe the way to peace and respect is to just make everyone racist towards each other until it becomes just noise. I don’t see many POC folks going around in ‘white face’ acting totally ignorant and spreading mis-informed gibberish and saying god bless this and that while chanting USA or whatever. Maybe some/we should. Eventually we’ll laugh about it and become less offended about it all and just learn to be who we are, right now, aside from our ancestry and dogmas that we have somehow chosen to carry to the future as emotional baggage. We should be more present in the now, not the past. None of all that is important in the grand scheme of the universe anyway and all it does is add undue stress for everyone worrying about what can and can’t be done. BRC should be a place where you can BE anything, without judgement, without politics. How else can you expand if you don’t push the boundaries?

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  • John McLane says:

    We should take the Irish stance on this one. As slaves, they were treated worse than the Africans (look it up). As a culture, nearly everyone claims to be Irish (esp. in March), when really it’s their grandmas dogs cousins mother that is actually from Ireland. Lucky charms is totally ridiculous and many American media outlets still happily perpetuate the ta-tee-ta-doo-da-dee type Irish stereotype, and what do the Irish do: buy you a drink, have a good laugh and enjoy the gap in the clouds. Sure, some get upset, but in general, they don’t constantly complain at the mockery Americans (and others) have made of their culture.

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  • Toni says:

    A Buddhist friend of mine has a theory about why some people take up anachronistic causes such as this one.
    He believes that they are the reincarnated perpetrators of the abuses who are now trying to make up for the harm they caused.
    Maybe. Maybe not. Food for thought.

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  • Black Hat says:

    Obligatory XKCD: xkcd.com/1332/ (Slippery Slope)

    “Yeah, but if I’m considerate toward one person about one thing, what’s next? Being nice to *other* people about *other* things? Where does it *end*?”

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  • JV says:

    I’m Catholic and I once saw a couple dressed as a priest and a nun literally fucking in a camp common area. I didn’t interrupt their coitus to ask whether they were also Catholic and/or if they understood the cultural significance of their costumes. I just laughed and chocked it up to another surreal Burning Man moment. In 2007, I believe, there was a crucifixion installation where people could don a crown of thorns, climb up on a cross and assume the Jesus Christ pose, with the option of being gently whipped by a leather-clad dominatrix. You can’t get much more beautifully profane than that.

    I wrote this on another post, but I’ll duplicate it here: For me, Burning Man is a place to play and experiment with cultural signifiers. That includes, sexuality, gender, identity, and costume. It’s a place to distort and transform the meaning of things. A tutu means one thing at home and another thing in BRC. You’re a teacher at home and a hallucinating, leather chaps wearing fire artist in BRC. I understand how some people could be offended at non-Native Americans wearing war bonnets. Maybe Burning Man isn’t for you? BRC is a place to transgress. For me and many others, that’s almost the very point of the event.

    I take the spirit of this post to heart, I’m glad to hear differing views on this subject, but I’m just gonna have to strongly disagree.

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    • JV says:

      Just an added thought I had about transgression. It may the case that the urge to transgress is a byproduct of privilege, because those born into privilege feel safe enough to push boundaries. I wouldn’t argue with that thesis, but I also wouldn’t agree with putting limits on such transgression in certain scenarios, the prime example of which is Burning Man. My hope would be that people whose life experiences did not give them the sense of security to play with and transgress cultural/societal norms safely would find in Burning Man a space to do so. It’s important to identify with cultural signifiers in forming one’s identity, but I think it’s equally important to have the perspective and opportunity to jettison the hold they have on us temporarily, to play with and assume new identities built from any number of sources, to explore how that feels and inform us just how subjective it all is. It’s liberating, and in my case, has only strengthened my cultural/religious identity upon returning home.

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  • Lurker says:

    Let me make this plain.

    I, like all other humans on this planet, am descended of Africa, indigenous nowhere else. As such, all cultures are mine and I will use them as I see fit.

    I will make sacred the specious, and desecrate the beloved.

    I will dance in the footsteps of all the gods and deny and affirm them eternally

    All your cultures are mine, I will eat them, and they will burn forever in me.

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  • dixiebfree says:

    So, to move from collective discussion into collective action, are people interested in addressing this group? Black Rock Helicopters video, wrong on so many levels. https://www.facebook.com/BlackRockHelicopters/videos/vb.644454302379290/644534915704562/?type=2&theater

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  • Jena says:

    Thank you so much for writing and publishing this. It takes research, and courage.
    It also reveals all the work there is still before us, until the rich white boys in BM learn to respect people.
    It’s interesting that they’re so into the first part of the principle “Radical self-expression arises from the unique gifts of the individual. No one other than the individual or a collaborating group can determine its content. It is offered as a gift to others” but won’t care about the rest “In this spirit, the giver should respect the rights and liberties of the recipient.”

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  • JV says:

    “It also reveals all the work there is still before us, until the rich white boys in BM learn to respect people.”

    Numerous people on this comment thread who disagreed with this article identified themselves as people of color. You’ll have to refigure your “rich white boys” boogeyman, I suppose.

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  • Erin says:

    Great article! I’m disappointed that the organizers seem to be very careful about a lot of details for this event, but are declining to comment on this one.

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  • Craig says:

    Despite the numerous claims to the contrary, the only racism I see on display through this thread is anti-white. I’ve just learned from reading through all this though, that it’s not currently possible for white people to be subject to racism, because we have power! So apparently, at any one time, only one certain group of people can be racists and that group is whoever is in charge. Once someone knocks them off their perch though, now they can do or so anything against any other group, and it won’t be racist because, you know, power, or the lack thereof. I wouldn’t personally wear a Native American headdress but I wouldn’t think badly of someone who did.
    As I think someone mentioned above, why is their right to the costume of their choice trumped by your right to be offended? In fact, they can wear the costume, AND you can be offended at the same time!
    There is NO costume that would so offend me that I would ask someone not to wear it. I can see having such social conventions in “normal” society, like not wearing swastikas and such, but at something like BM? Come one, let your freak flag fly, and let everyone else’s fly too.
    For perspective, I’m 53, have not yet been to BM, but keep dancing on the edge. I’ve been reading every related article that pops up, and stumbled onto this one. I have to say, this isn’t talking me into it!

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  • Bodhi Modification says:

    Every year out there I see a ton of non-Arab people wearing keffiyeh. It’s a symbol of Palestinian nationalism; do you consider that a form of appropriation?

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  • Kai Sosceles says:

    Somehow the author forgot that self-expression has never come from a vacuum. Nothing is original. All self-expression is a remix of someone else’s expression. Not allowing other people to remix your work is legally covered by intellectual property and I’m glad it doesn’t include something as silly as “wearing other people’s hats.”

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  • Kai Sosceles says:

    Just remember when you’re dancing to those fat Trap beats made and spun by crusty, white dreaded hippies…it’s all culturally appropriated from Southern American Black culture they’ve never encountered. Maybe we’ll save that outrage for next year?

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  • Melina says:

    I understand the point this article wants to bring and respect the opinion of not wearing war bonnets as a fashion accessory. However, if you get too serious with everything that is cultural appropriation that beautiful temple (which seems like a budist temple inspiration) created this year at burning man should also be considered offensive to budist people who would not appreciate a temple being used for a different purpose other than their religion? They don’t even like Buda to be used as an image or statue, so imagine a temple. But it’s a beautiful piece of art for me and it for sure brings different experience to people.
    For north americans the native indian discussion is bigger than other cultural appropriation from other parts of the world, it’s a big issue for you guys, I guess it’s always on the media. But what about other culture’s? If I have an african adornment I bought from a village in Africa, is this the same cultural appropriation as if I bought on ebay? I think if someone is consciously using a cultural piece as a tribute, appreciation or respect for that culture, then there is nothing wrong with it. And if it is because they find it beautiful and want to wear, what’s wrong with it? I personally didn’t know the meaning of the war bonnet until now. Just think there are so many other things which would cause the same polemic and controversial ideas and if you start thinking too much you will end up offending or being offended at some point, because everything is so delicate nowadays. So, just be free and be yourself!

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  • Burning Bull says:

    Peace and love come after the burn. the Cacophony Society were as anti-PC as anything could be. Self-expression is what YOU do. If you are offended by extremism at BM you express yourself more to concentrate on that rather than externals. Then BURN BAD FEELINGS with the Man. Then rebuild from the asshes. Burn and repeat.

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  • DD says:

    After reading all these comments, I feel that I need to share my thoughts in this matter. Sorry is a little long, but it seems you guys like facts.
    I am Brazilian and for many many years we have believed to wear native feather headdresses with a completely different significance.
    Feathers were frequently used by Africans in their motherland on masks and headdresses as a symbol of our ability as humans to rise above problems, pains, heartbreaks, illness — to travel to another world to be reborn and to grow spiritually. Today, we see feathers used in many, many forms in creating carnival costumes.For African people, carnival became a way to express their power as individuals, as well as their rich cultural traditions. Their culture has passed on to mine and it is my pleasure to wear it as much as I can.
    A symbol, a headdress, a medal, a tattoo, a skirt a hairstyle etc. these are all trademarks of different cultures, which depending on what side you were in of any of their wars and disagreements, it can be hurtful to see it being expressed without meaning. I understand, but it does not mean you need to change it, or should even ask to be changed.
    If I have a swastika tattooed on my body, would you be offended also? Or does it only offend you when is something close to your own culture? Or is it by the amount of people that have died? What if I tell you the swastika on my body comes from Budhism or Hindhuism, which have a completely different symbolism from Hitler? How about all those army hats with a rank engraved on it that everyone wears?
    We have to learn to accept people’s opinions and wishes and not put boundaries on their decisions. If we start asking for people to stop wearing Indian headdresses, Mohawks (During World War II, many American GIs, notably paratroopers from the 101st Airborne Division wore mohawks to intimidate their enemies. It was also occasionally worn by American troops during the Vietnam War), nose rings (Hindu idolaters wear nose-studs and rings, and worship demons masquerading as “gods”, fashioned as; monkeys, rats, cattle, and elephants), necklaces (Among the ancient Celtic tribes, torques were a symbol of high rank. They were worn by priests, warriors, queens, and kings), tattoos etc. because it offends them, it will be the end of self expression due to politically correct reasons, only because people are too sensitive.
    this is Burning Man! Accept people even if you don’t agree with them and don’t try to change them.

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  • Sohan says:

    If white people’s history of imperialism makes it okay to borrow from their culture, I wonder if the brutal and imperialistic history of the Aztec makes it okay to, say, dress up as a Jaguar Warrior, or throw on one of their priests’ elaborate feathered headdress. Someone accused white people of extracting resources from the bodies of the conquered, while the Aztec literally ripped your heart out if they conquered you.
    Incidentally, the Ottomans were also imperialistic at one point, and so were the Maya, and Arabs, and Indians, and Chinese, and Japanese … I think we have a free-for-all on our hands.
    Also, the absurdity of comparing wearing a war bonnet or bindi to blackface, when no one wearing either is attempting to either seriously or jocularly present themselves as Native American or Indian.
    And the irony of demanding people refrain from wearing something outside their ancestral culture in the name of “inclusion”.

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  • Morgan Florea says:

    To all of you belligerently defending your right to wear feather headresses, what is wrong with you??? Is your “cute outfit” sooooo worth making a mockery of our indigenous nation who to this very day is still being trampled on, subjugated, disrespected and exploited by ignorant white elitist asshole Americans? Really??? They requested that we stop. Is your stupid copycat outfit that important to you????? Why don’t you come up with something actually creative that is ALL YOUR OWN and then defend your right to wear it freely? Why is everyone copying each other in the first place? COME UP WITH YOUR OWN IDEAS! It’s bad enough being a biter, biting a racist trend is even worse!!! Ok, I’m done.

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  • marc says:

    We exist from bacteria and bacterial populations don’t get all ethical because of the dominance of one culture over another. Bacterias dominate or assimilate and become and ever evolving culture. So to everyone who hates dominate cultures, fuck off that is the nature of the planet we came from, bacteria. And like most dominate cultures you eventually start dying off because of your actions, so be patient to all those who hate white culture. The idea anything has any importance is a manmade construct. The things we create along the way are symbols and symbols have different meanings to different people and meaning is what keeps us going on the journey. But like Bill Hicks once said, it’s a ride. A head dress to one is a really awesome costume to another. What if the bird said to the native “hey those are my fucking feathers” get them off your head. You are not a bird, did I really give you permission on your vision quest or did you just make that shit up inside your perception of reality? In fact what if every animal said, I’m not your fucking spirit guide stop claiming to have my powers. We are on an ever evolving spaceship if you take this shit too serious you may be too attached to remember that the spaceship and our existence has changed its position.

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  • “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

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