Did you know? In 1637, over 700 men, women, and children of the Pequot Tribe gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival, which is our present-day Thanksgiving celebration. However, in the predawn hours before the celebration, English and Dutch mercenaries shot and clubbed the men to death. Meanwhile, the women and children huddled inside longhouses and were burned alive.
In total, 700 unarmed men, women and children were murdered. The very next day, the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day of Thanksgiving.”
In case you were wondering, yes, that’s the same holiday millions of Americans will celebrate later this week. While there is nothing wrong with being grateful for good food, friends, and family members, ignoring the historical events which led to the traditional day of feasting is. And sadly, that is what millions of people do every year.
The reality is, Native Americans were dealt several lousy hands by the “white man.” And while it is too late to save those who received unfair treatment, it isn’t too late to make amends for what our ancestors did. The first way to do this is by learning the true history of Thanksgiving. The second is to stop appropriating Native American culture.
Every year around Thanksgiving, vloggers and bloggers do exactly this by making “seasonal” makeup tutorials that are inspired by Native American culture. For obvious reasons, this is so wrong. But rather than rant on the ordeal, we’ll let JJ Smith, aka Sailor J on YouTube, explain why it’s not OK for women to blatantly rip off Native American culture.
In a recent parody video, aptly titled “How To Do Thanksgiving Makeup That Has Nothing To Do With The 566 Federally Recognized Tribes,” Sailor J does a rendition of a Thanksgiving-themed makeup tutorial. Throughout the process, she calls out and mocks many of the ways people appropriate Native American culture in offensive videos.
“Every six seconds, a white woman on YouTube does a Native-inspired makeup look when it has nothing to do with Native culture,” she says. As Allure reports, she also adds — in a snarky, sarcastic tone — that her look is “inspired by ‘Pocahontas,’ because Disney is so fuckin’ accurate with its cultural depictions.” (In case you need a reminder, Pocahontas was a real person, but she was brutally murdered)
The YouTuber’s finished “look” featured burgundy lips (“for blood”), white eyeliner (to make you look scared), as well as “NO DAPL” written on her cheeks. After adding blue triangles underneath her eyes, she tops off the outfit with a wreath from Walmart — a headdress alternative white women insensitively use to look like Native American chiefs. “I knit this flower crown myself, I call it fall harvest by Walmart,” Sailor J jokes.
Once the remarks are over, the tone of the video turns serious. The YouTube explains that she made the video for one of her subscribers who wants people to realize that Native American-themed costumes and makeup are a form of appropriation. “Do your face paint, just don’t call it Native,” the subscriber wrote.
“For her people, the reality is really sad — but she said by turning it comedic, it almost gave her a kind of escape for a moment,” said the activist. “I’m not Native American by blood, or at least I don’t think [I am]. It was honestly just for her. I believe in defending all women regardless of whether or not I share their ethnicity.”
Watch the parody “tutorial” below:
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