• Fri, Mar 7 - 4:55 pm ET

Governor’s Daughter Dons Native American Headdress, Accessorizes With Racism

christina fallin wears a native american headdress on instagram

In cultural appropriation news, Christina Fallin, the 26-year-old daughter of the Governor of Oklahoma, Mary Fallin, thought it would be a great idea to tweet a picture of herself wearing a Native American headdress. Blegh.

The state’s population is approximately 8.6 percent Native American, and it seems like every Oklahoman with a social media presence is justifiably pissed to see a white woman claiming a cultural symbol that doesn’t belong to her. The story has reached the rest of the internet now, too– resulting in a cacophony of biting tweets.

christina fallin tweet

christina fallin is so grounded tweet

christina fallin cultural appropriation tweet

We’d love to say that this was one stupid mistake made by one person one time– but, unfortunately, Christina has issued a pathetic non-apology on her band’s Facebook. If you love eye-roll-inducing open letters written by people who don’t understand why they’re being criticized, this one will make your day:

Growing up in Oklahoma, we have come into contact with Native American culture institutionally our whole lives– something we are eternally grateful for. With age, we feel a deeper and deeper connection to the Native America culture that has surrounded us. Though it may not have been our own, this aesthetic has affected us emotionally in a very real and meaningful way. Please forgive us if we innocently adorn ourselves in your beautiful things.

So you appreciate their culture so much that… what? You understand it better than they do? You know what’s best for them? Yikes, girl. I love Jezebel’s commentary about the whole situation:

When hundreds of people are telling you that what you did was racist appropriation, then how can you continue to assert the right to “adorn” yourself with the signifiers of a culture that’s not your own, that your racial group has oppressed in the past?

Pretty much.

Well, here’s hoping that this public discussion will discourage other people from doing potentially offensive things without considering the weight of their actions. And here’s hoping that all the articles and tweets floating around with her name in them will teach Christina Fallin how to write an actual apology.

Via Huff Post / Photo: Instagram, via Jezebel

Share This Post:
  • Lindsey Conklin

    “In cultural appropriation news” haha this is so ridiculous.

  • Amy

    You guys are so ridiculously P.C. I’m born and raised in OK and have Witchita Indian blood in me. This is not at all offensive. It’s not like she painted her face red and purposely mocked Native American culture. I’m not sure if you guys have ever left ny and have been to OK, but our culture is everywhere out here. I think head dresses are beautiful and this is no big deal.

    This is just another example of a white person being oh-so-offended FOR NO REASON.

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      Reminds me of Maude Findlay (Bea Arthur in ‘Maude’), the ultimate fake liberal. Second only to Portlanders.

  • Elizabeth Aspen

    I have to say I’m not seeing any racism here. It’s actually a beautiful picture. If this was racist, it would have been accompanied by something racist in writing. It’s not like carrying a Confederate flag, maybe she was honoring Native Americans, you don’t know her intent.

    All this political correctness reminds me of when I lived in Portland and said to someone in passing, ‘Wow, what a jip’ when she got ripped off in a store, and her jaw dropped and told me I just insulted gypsies. Good lord.

    • Naomi

      Because you DID.

      Because that’s where the expression “gypp” comes from; the stereotype that Romani people are cheats and thieves. Is it acceptable for you if people say “so-and-so JEWED me out of something”? Because it’s the exact same sentiment.

      It may be gosh-darn inconvenient for you, but not nearly as inconvenient as the rampant horrifying Anti-Tziganism that “Gypsies” (an incorrect name for Romani people if nothing else) experience all over the world on a daily basis.

      How dare someone take exception to your blatant self-indulgent ignorance. It’s much worse than the abuse, assault, murder, deportation, rape, and multitude of other rampant types of discrimination the Romani people have endured since long before The Holocaust, where they were killed in the camps, amirite? (Including my little cousin who was beaten to death by Russian skinheads for being Rom.)

      Discrimination that is compounded by the thoughtless use of racist language like what you said.

      Seriously, get over yourself. You might sound a little smarter.

      (Some graphic images in this link, but you could probably benefit from a reality check.)
      http://big-gadje-world.tumblr.com/post/28746483231/how-to-be-a-gypsy-the-picture-tutorial-graphic

    • tifygodess24

      Wow , I understand being passionate but you are not getting your message anywhere by being so aggressive.

    • Naomi

      My bad. Next time, I’ll present the horrible harsh reality of the situation by acting it out with marshmallow peeps and Care Bears.

    • tifygodess24

      I’m so sorry you have such a bad attitude and a chip on your shoulder …..

    • Guest

      Because you DID.

      Because that’s where the expression “gypp” comes from; the stereotype that Romani people are cheats and thieves. Is it acceptable for you if people say “so-and-so JEWED me out of something”? Because it’s the exact same sentiment.

      It may be gosh-darn inconvenient for you, but not nearly as inconvenient as the rampant horrifying Anti-Tziganism that “Gypsies” (an incorrect name for Romani people if nothing else) experience all over the world on a daily basis.

      How dare someone take exception to your blatant self-indulgent ignorance. It’s much worse than the abuse, assault, murder, deportation, rape, and multitude of other rampant types of discrimination the Romani people have endured since long before The Holocaust, where they were killed in the camps, amirite? (Including my little cousin who was beaten to death by Russian skinheads for being Rom.)

      Discrimination that is compounded by the thoughtless use of racist language like what you said.

      Seriously, get over yourself. You might sound a little smarter.

    • Sri

      For a lot of Native Americans, the headdress is a symbol of honor. In the actual culture, they were awarded to men for good deeds and shows of courage. In general, they are also only to be worn for special occasions. In that way, it’s like she dressed up in formal US marines uniform, complete with medals, for a funsies photo shoot.

      In addition, she is picking out the beautiful parts of an oppressed culture and wearing it as a costume. She has never personally had to experience any of the discrimination that comes with being Native American. In fact, she has indirectly benefited from their oppression. But she feels free to pick out the “fun” parts of the culture for her own consumption just because they look pretty, without any respect for the meaning. That’s why a lot of people are pissed off.

  • guest

    How is wearing something to honor another culture racists? There seems to be nothing stereotyped or caricatured in this photo, in fact it’s very beautiful. Just because someone is white doesn’t mean that can’t appreciate the beauty of another culture. I have a very close friend who is of Indian decent, and on many occasions I have worn a sari to family gatherings or celebrations. No one once said because I was white I was disrespecting their culture just by wearing it, that’s a ridiculous concept. I feel very connected with the Indian culture because although I was not born into it, I have been surrounded by it.

    • DoctorTARDIS

      Thank you! My thoughts exactly.

    • Muggle

      It’s about context. A white person taking a picture of herself in the dress of another culture that has been, in the past, oppressed by white people is appropriation. Native Americans continue to suffer from discrimination and poverty as a result of the systematic oppression that happened years ago. It’s not cool for white people to totally ignore the past while taking “beautiful” things from a culture and use it in an inappropriate and stereotypical manner. In some Native American cultures the feather headdress is the equivalent of wearing a Purple Heart.

      The difference between Christine Fallon wearing this headdress and getting called out on it, and you wearing a sari to an Indian friend’s wedding, is that you are honoring your friend’s culture, you know about Indian culture and have been immersed in it, so you’re not some rando wearing a sari just because it’s pretty. Christine Fallon is speaking in general terms when she says Oklahomans have all been touched by Native American culture, but she doesn’t say to what extent SHE has been touched by it, or how close she is to any Native American. She doesn’t say whether she understands the significance of the headdress, or if she was simply ‘influenced by the aesthetic’ that might in fact be a very stereotypical image of an amalgamation of all of the Native American cultures. By all appearances, she is using it as a costume of a stereotype, and her non-apology indicates that she doesn’t care about what Native Americans think, she is clearly clueless about what she’s doing and ultimately doesn’t know a whole lot about Native Americans, period.

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  • Ali

    Why do people get all bent out of shape over this? How stupid!! Would people pitch a hissy fit if she took pictures wearing a kimono? Geez, people, get over yourself! And I also have Native American blood in my veins.

  • Eileen

    What if it weren’t a headdress? What if this woman had learned to speak a Native language, or begun to practice a Native religion? There’s a knee-jerk response to seeing white people in the clothing of non-white cultures, but it’s not always fair.

    • Agnes

      White guilt.