AnotherAnother magazine cover equals another case of perfunctory cultural appropriation. AnOther magazine, a biannual fashion and lifestyle publication based in Britain, is under fire for decking actress Michelle Williams in full American Indian regalia for their latest issue.

The Oz the Great and Powerful starlet is in complete media blitz for the movie, so she’s been featured in several magazine spreads. Posing as an American Indian should’ve alarmed her inner hipster immediately or at least raised questions from her management. Your face is painted red. You’re wearing a braided wig and a feather. Nobody was outraged enough to question or contextualize this?

Americans Indians have been brutalized, mistreated and isolated in their own native homestead. Baseball teams donned official logo caps with historically-controlling stereotypical images of the culture for decades. But of course this is appropriate because we’re in a post-racial society where history is nothing more than nostalgic formality.

AnOther is attempting to justify its blatant appropriation of American Indian culture by explaining the spread’s concept. According to the magazine, Williams was “transform[ed] into eight imaginary characters” to align with the issue’s theme, “There’s No Place Like Home,” an ode to “The Wizard of Oz.” However, American Indians are not characters and their homes were stripped from them by colonialists lusting for wealth and power. The history of Indian appropriation deserves documentaries and systemic reform, not a caricature on a magazine cover.

Lexi Nisita, a writer for Refinery 29, also points out the historical implications of “There’s No Place Like Home” cover line:

“[It’s] actually very pointed in this instance, given the fact that thousands of Native Americans were forcefully ousted from their homes (not to mention slaughtered and denied full rights of citizenship) when European settlers came to this continent,” she wrote. “The line is, of course, a reference to Ms. Williams’ recent role in Oz The Great And Powerful, but if that’s all they meant, they should have just dressed her up as Dorothy.”

And let’s not forget The Wizard of Oz series author L. Frank Baum’s blatant hatred toward American Indians and support of their “annihilation.”

He wrote in an 1890 editorial for his newspaper, the Saturday Pioneer:

“The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extirmination [sic] of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies future safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past.”

It was written mere weeks before 153 Sioux Indians were killed at Wounded Knee Creek in southwestern South Dakota. Baum also penned several subsequent editorials praising the killing of Sitting Bull, the Hunkpapa Sioux leader and calling for continuous slaughtering of American Indians.

Appropriating Indian culture matters, especially when their customs and rituals have been disregarded as invaluable for centuries. Western civilization has established such disrespect for American Indians that AnOther magazine thinks this cover is justifiable, marketable and acceptable.

Pull the cover. Apologize. And realize how incongruous, offensive and discriminatory photo shoots appropriating other cultures is.

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  • Kay

    What was the point of this cover? Other than trying (and failing miserably) to be cutting edge or trendy? This is a classic example of hipster racist b.s. I’m sure they will justify it by saying that “We were “honoring,” Native Americans,” and the “It’s just art! You people need to stop being so sensitive!” And someone made the point that she may be part Native American. Um….so? She is reaping the benefits of White privilege and I’m sure she is not officially registered with any tribe and probably has not rallied for their rights either. Pulling out the Native American card is so convenient. That’s like some girl I knew, who identified as Caucasian, a long time ago who swore, “But I’m like 1/36th Black I think. I’m in the same boat as you!” This after a whole year of never, ever volunteering to personally go and work with the families of color our organization worked with, never adding anything of value to discussions about funding to help them, but as soon as we talked about not hiring legacies, she’s up in arms and talking solidarity. Riiiight.

    Even if she could claim her ancestry, why darken her face? That’s like that b.s. Beyonce pulled when they wanted to “celebrate,” Fela Kuti. And I didn’t miss the subliminal use of the magazine’s title An”Other,” as if subconsciously speaking to the racists who really feel like Native Americans and people of color are those “Others,”

    • Keshia

      You better preach!! I hate when people use that but I have Indian or African blood in me garbage. What American born citizen doesn’t.

  • Nadell

    What’s the deal with the constant obsession over race? Why must they continue to play dress-up into another’s culture? Yet they claim we obsess over race – but every other day we witness them in either black face, Indian or Asian traditional attire for some obsurd reason.
    You don’t see some African woman being painted in white to appear as the Queen of England for some magazine photoshoot. It is done so frequently that it will eventually become the norm….these publications won’t even ask for actual African or Indian women. They’ll just select a white woman and grafitti her up – because that’s all you have to do to represent the ‘minority’…..

  • Pingback: Another Case of Cultural Appropriation: Michelle Williams Poses as an American Indian via Clutch Magazine | MMXLII()

  • http://gravatar.com/jswindell Nean

    This reminds me of that ‘I am African’ campaign that came out a few yrs ago w/Gwyneth Paltrow, David Bowie, a few mixed celebs and others not making a point. Too bad African families are still starving and ass-backwards marketing still exists.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Tefertiller.Bassett Tefertiller Bassett Pete

    L. Frank Baum’s (((Author of The Wonderful Wizard of OZ))) complete HATRED toward Native Americans can be seen in his own Editorials, which he posted in his Weekly Newspaper: The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer (1890 and 1891)

    Baum’s racist responded upon hearing the news of the Wounded Knee massacre (((mostly women, children, and UNARMED men)))), and to word of the murder of Sioux Leader Sitting Bull was a call for the total destruction of the Sioux people. A relatively complete run of the originals of these editorials of the Saturday Pioneer is said to be held by the Alexander Mitchell Library in Aberdeen, where it can be viewed on microfilm.

    The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer (18 October 1890)
    Sitting Bull, most renowned Sioux of modern history, is dead.
    He was not a Chief, but without Kingly lineage he arose from a lowly position to the greatest Medicine Man of his time, by virtue of his shrewdness and daring.
    He was an Indian with a white man’s spirit of hatred and revenge for those who had wronged him and his. In his day he saw his son and his tribe gradually driven from their possessions: forced to give up their old hunting grounds and espouse the hard working and uncongenial avocations of the whites. And these, his conquerors, were marked in their dealings with his people by selfishness, falsehood and treachery. What wonder that his wild nature, untamed by years of subjection, should still revolt? What wonder that a fiery rage still burned within his breast and that he should seek every opportunity of obtaining vengeance upon his natural enemies.

    The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer (20 December 1890)
    The proud spirit of the original owners of these vast prairies inherited through centuries of fierce and bloody wars for their possession, lingered last in the bosom of Sitting Bull. With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. (((((The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians.))))))) Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are. History would forget these latter despicable beings, and speak, in later ages of the glory of these grand Kings of forest and plain that Cooper loved to heroism.
    We cannot honestly regret their extermination, but we at least do justice to the manly characteristics possessed, according to their lights and education, by the early Redskins of America.