coachella attendee posts instagram apology after being checked for her headdress

When an indigenous activist pointed out her offense, this festival-goer publicly acknowledged her insensitivity.

by Braudie Blais-Billie
Apr 27 2017, 9:40pm

Despite countless articles and conversations surrounding the disrespectful practice of cultural appropriation, the fashion and music worlds continue to blunder. Music festivals are unfortunately plagued with this form of insensitivity, and Coachella is no exception.

During Coachella's second weekend, a handful of attendees were spotted wearing feathered headdresses — a powerful symbol of sacredness and political status within certain Native American nations — as style statements. Dr. Adrienne Keene, the Cherokee Ivy League assistant professor and activist behind the blog Native Appropriations, took her disapproval to Twitter.

Instead of reacting with hostility, one of the women pictured above took the criticism in her stride. She apologized via an Instagram post for appropriating a sacred indigenous garment, expressing her regret and recognition of the indigenous peoples she offended.

"I'm human and I admit there are many things I'm still unaware of," the Coachella attendee wrote. "I appreciate all of those that commented to educate me and not push forth hate." It's a refreshing reminder of the impact that education, compassion, and accountability can have in public debates about contentious issues like appropriation and whitewashing (see also: the recent Shea Moisture's controversy).

Thankfully, this kind of positive interaction between appropriator and offended party is happening more often. Back in February, Karlie Kloss tweeted an apology for her participation in yellow face for Vogue's March print issue (ironically called the Diversity Issue), and Hilary Duff expressed regret for her distasteful couple's Halloween costume in 2016.

Of course, there are celebrities less willing to own their actions — take Kendall Jenner's alledged gag on journalists' questions about the infamous Pepsi commercial — making it difficult to move forward. But thanks partly to the actions and visibility of movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #NoDAPL, public awareness is rising. And the direct engagement of social media advocates like Dr. Keene is creating dialogues between different communities with positive results.

Related: How to appreciate a culture without appropriating it


Text Braudie Blais-Billie