What’s Wrong with Cultural Appropriation? These 9 Answers Reveal Its Harm


For instance, if you think about the real story of Pocahontas, having your daughter pretend to be her on Halloween is pretty disturbing. The real Pocahontas, whose given name was Matoaka, was abducted as a teenager, forced to marry an Englishman (not John Smith, by the way), and used as propaganda for racist practices before she died at the age of 21.

And it almost feels like that propaganda never ended, as our popular lessons on what happened between colonizing settlers and Indigenous people depict Native people as savages, or as happy, mystical characters, or as entirely absent.

We don’t hear the real stories, and most of us don’t live with a direct connection to their suffering.

Does the truth matter, when it comes to a little girl just trying to enjoy a holiday? You might think it does if she wanted to dress up as someone whose tragic truth is more familiar, like Anne Frank.

They’re both girls with harrowing stories. But more of us believe that trivializing Anne Frank’s life is in very poor taste. Can you imagine the outcry if Disney tried to romanticize her diary by aging her into a young woman with a love affair with a Nazi officer and a happy ending?



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