Dawn Richards, You Are Not Native American

March 29th, 2012

(Photo: Bad Boy Records)

Years after the disappearance or crash-and-burn (hey there, Audrey) of her Making the Band castmates, Dawn is still making Diddy Dirty Money big moves. Like her former mentor Sean Combs, the singer can’t stop, won’t stop. Yet, like Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Alicia Keys during her unfortunate but brief bindi-wearing period, she can’t get it through her head that cultural appropriation is not an okay way to give a pop star extra oomph.

Consider Dawn’s new video, “Bombs.” In it, she hoped to convey the spirit and essence of a warrior, explaining on 106th & Park, “I wanted the art direction to be cohesive with the song and sound of the EP. Warriors fighting for the same cause. ‘Bombs’ is the ‘Hearts have arrived’ record.” So to that end she dressed herself up like a Native American. She put feathers on her head and did a little dance to show her tribal fierceness.

This is not okay.

Native Americans got precious little of what they deserved once their land became American land. And now, all these years later, the least they deserve is to stop having their symbols and rituals of cultural pride and heritage be used as a gimmicky prop.

There’s also the very real issue that by prancing around in a headdress, Dawn looks silly. Cultural appropriation is not classy, it’s clownish. As clownish as, say, Katy Perry covering “Niggas in Paris” (if you missed the travesty, enjoy it here). Katy is not Kanye or Jay-Z, just as you are not Pocahontas, Dawn…so everyone, just go back to your familiar corners and get a grip.

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