Ruth Hopkins: Boycott a repeat offender of cultural appropriation

Ralph Lauren has removed an ad campaign featuring historic pictures of Indian men. This image was saved by Ruth Hopkins and posted on Last Real Indians

Ruth Hopkins calls for boycott of fashion house Ralph Lauren over questionable use of pictures of Indian men:
Apparently putting scantily clad white women in warbonnets is losing its shock value, because designers are moving into a new phase of cultural assassination, in hopes of making genocide doubly lucrative.

Imagine my horror this morning, upon discovering Ralph Lauren’s latest venture. Let’s call it Assimilation Era Chic.

Old portraits of Native men from the Allotment and Assimilation Era (1887–1943) are displayed like cover models among Ralph Lauren’s latest line for the 2014 Holiday season. I did a double take for an instant, because one of the men pictured looked like my ancestor.

Mr. Lauren, you can’t hide behind terms like "vintage inspired" and "rustic" anymore. It’s plain to see that you’re right back in your comfort zone; the one where Natives are oppressed, voiceless, and extinct, to be used at your leisure to feed the beast that is pop culture consumerism and line your silken pockets.

You see, Ralph Lauren is a repeat offender. He’s been unapologetically making bank off American Indians for years. Just last Spring, we collectively cringed at Ralph Lauren shirts brandishing skulls bedecked in warbonnets, and lest we forget, old Ralphy welcomed Oprah herself into his tipi festooned RL Ranch back in 2012. He seeks to champion classic Americana. Fine. So be it. But, there’s one problem. We aren’t your token Indians. Stop trying to put a price tag on our heritage and sell us, and make a mockery of the genocide our Native ancestors suffered at the hands of your forefathers, by forcing them to represent you just to boost holiday sales.

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins: Assimilation Aesthetic (Last Real Indians 12/18)

Also Today:
Ralph Lauren apologizes for Native American ads (CNN 12/18)

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