Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued an appalling statement about reparations toward the African-American community. Reparations are “the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged.” He said that the U.S. should not be responsible for something the country did 150 years ago. While he was bashed on social media for having such an oppressive view about Black people and slavery in the country, we’d like for him to take into account the eloquent speech that was also delivered by a more compassionate politician.
On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsome said he was sorry on behalf of California to the Native American people for how the state wronged them.
The governor spoke at a ceremony at the California Indian Heritage Center near Sacramento. He was alongside tribal leaders who were there for a new commission that will benefit their community.
“It’s called a genocide,” Newsom said, according to the Sacramento Bee. “No other way to describe it… I’m sorry on behalf of the state of California.” He added, “We can never undo the wrongs inflicted on the peoples who have lived on this land that we now call California since time immemorial, but we can work together to build bridges, tell the truth about our past and begin to heal deep wounds.”
Newsome has launched the Truth and Healing Council “to produce a report before the end of 2024 on the historical relationship between the state and Native Americans.”
Tribal leaders that attended the event said they were grateful to hear words of acknowledgment and also said they are ready to know how this council will produce action.
“It’s healing to hear your words, but actions will speak for themselves, and I do look forward to hearing more and seeing more of you,” Erica Pinto, chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village in San Diego County, said according to Reuters.
In 1851, California’s first governor, Peter Burnett said the chilling words in an address “That a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct must be expected.”
Fashion brand Louis Vuitton is under scrutiny from the Mexican government after allegedly using indigenous designs on the cover of a chair that’s being sold for over $18,000. The Mexican government called them out for cultural appropriation and for taking the designs from an indigenous community.
This comes only a couple weeks after the Mexican government called out fashion designer Carolina Herrera for appropriation as well.
According to the Daily Mail, “Culture Minister Alejandra Fausto sent a letter dated July 5 questioning Louis Vuitton’s use of a traditional Mexican pattern in the design of a chair that retails for $18,200.” Fausto states in the letter than the artistic pattern belong to the indigenous community of Tenango de Doria.
“Each piece is unique and unrepeatable,” Fausto writes in the letter. “And at the same time, it is a result of the continuity of the work of many generations who transmit knowledge, skills, and creativity.
On its website, however, Louis Vuitton writes, “LV partnered with award-winning designer duo Raw Edges, Yael Mer and Shay Alkalay, to create this Dolls limited-edition chair. Sculptural in design, this avant-garde piece marries a deep green base and seat with a contrasting tropical-print shell.”
Tropical print? Sounds suspect.
“The designers took their inspiration from traditional crafts from all over the globe and the House’s rich travel heritage,” the statement on their website goes on to say.
Days after receiving the letter from Fausto, El Universal reported that Louis Vuitton insists the brand was actually collaborating with Mexican artisans––despite that piece of information not being explicit on their website. The brand tells El Universal that they’re “currently in a relationship with artisans of Tenango de Doria in the state of Hidalgo, with the perspective of collaborating together to produce this collection.” They did not provide any further details.
Although Louis Vuitton hasn’t yet addressed the letter, they did remove the chair in question from the website. All the other products from the partnership with Raw Edges are still available for purchase.
The chair in question is still on the Raw Edges Instagram account. A quick scroll through the comments and one will find many users calling them out for stealing these designs from indigenous communities from Mexico.
Earlier in June, Mexico News Daily reported that Fausto reached out Carolina Herrera accusing the fashion designer of using designs of indigenous communities in three states.
Fausto accused Carolina Herrera of liberally copying several articles of clothing that were featured in Herrera’s 2020 collection–not giving credit where it was due.
“This pattern comes from the community of Tenango de Doria in Hidalgo. Contained in these patterns is the very history of the community, and each element has special personal, familial, and communal significance,” wrote Fausto in the letter sent to Herrera.
Reuters also reported that “Mexico’s ruling leftist National Regeneration Movement has been planning legislation to protect indigenous communities from plagiarism and having their work used by others without receiving fair compensation.”
According to a new report from the Centre for International Governance Innovation, “Traditional cultural expressions ‘are undeniably’ forms of intellectual property but are largely excluded from existing protections offered by the World Intellectual Property Organization.”
This is all part of a larger movement from organizations working toward tougher intellectual property laws in order to protect indigenous communities from cultural appropriation. During a time when fast fashion is so prevalent in the fashion industry and when high profile designers have the means to appropriate from other cultures without facing repercussions, it’s important to protect indigenous communities and artists from having their work stolen, repurposed, and sold for more money without seeing any of that profit.
According to Mexico News Daily, Susan Harp who heads the Culture Commission in Congress, said, “These communities are asking for respect, they’re not [necessarily] asking for money. They want designers to come to them and ask for their permission.”
The letter that Fausto sent to Louis Vuitton read, “We feel obliged to ask, in a respectful manner, if for the elaboration of the chair you mentioned you sought and, in this case, worked together with the community and its artists.”
This isn’t the first time that major designers, fashion designers, and clothing lines have been found copying and appropriating indigenous Mexican designs.
For example, Zara, Mango, Etoile, Michael Kors, and Isabel Marant have all been criticized for this in the past.
While high profile fashion designers have a history of appropriating and incorporating indigenous patterns and designs into their collections and products, it’s important and necessary that cultural institutions from other counties are calling these brands out in efforts to stop this from happening again.
Democratic Presidential candidate Kamala Harris, a California Senator, has recently proposed a $100 billion federal grant solution to help address the racial wealth gap for Black Americans. The crux of the solution is centered in homeownership. She wants to help pay for down payments and closing costs for families of color that are still affected by redline segregation-era practices. She announced her plan Saturday at the Essence Festival in New Orleans, which aims to lift up Black women.
“That not only lifts up black America, that lifts up all of America,” she told the crowd.
The plan would help at least 4 million families that are living in those areas that were redlined. Redlining is the term used to describe Jim Crow laws that limited black families’ abilities to take out loans to buy homes. Redlining effectively set boundaries on where those families could live, and, generations later, those families continue to suffer.
The plan also includes a crucial policy change that would raise credit scores for many minority families.
Credit: @KamalaHarris / Twitter
Her plan is to change federal policy that would count rent payments and utility bill payments toward credit scores, effectively raising credit scores for POC. The plan would give families of color assistance with buying homes in neighborhoods they had been racially biased from living it by offering grants up to $25,000.
The plan would increase the average wealth of Latino households by $29,000.
Credit: @KamalaHarris / Twitter
It would also increase the average wealth of Black households by about $32,000, according to The New York Times. By aiding with down payments and closing costs, it allows families to buy homes that they could pay off with their existing monthly income, rather than requiring tens of thousands of dollars in savings before ownership.
Of course, Fox News is already screaming their heads off about reverse racism.
Credit: @Bakari_Sellers / Twitter
Unlike offering home loans that families can’t afford, which caused the 2008 housing crisis, this plan seeks to make true reparations for Black families that were prevented from owning homes due to Jim Crow laws.
Thankfully, folks are clapping back at the #whitesplaining.
Credit: @L82twatmytweet / Twitter
Instead of discussing the issue at hand–reparations for redlining–Tucker Carlson and his gang talked about how it would be racist to white people by not including them in the conversation. If white folks were included in the conversation, it would be as perpetrators of racist systemic oppression, but Kamala Harris is focusing on justice for black folks, not punishing white folks.
Some people are generally concerned over “race-baiting” policies.
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We see you Pan Dulce. There are over 40 million Black folks in the United States, and several responded to Harris’ tweet with concern that this only helps 10 percent of the population. Of course, the 4 million that would be helped are a diverse group of POC that are descendants of those that were racially segregated. That’s several generations of POC paying rent to a landlord instead of owning a home they could pass onto the next generation, to give them a leg up in the world. When reparations aren’t made, families remain static, instead of progressing.
Just one example of a certified Doctorate in Reverse Racism.
Credit: @EddieDonovan / Twitter
We don’t know what your Ph.D. is in, Mr. Eddie Donovan, but it certainly isn’t in systemic injustice or empathy. Hope you had fun leaving that little winky face at the end of a tone-deaf comment, though. Harris’s plan aims to undo generations of unfair and racist practices that hurt Black and brown communities. The same plans being proposed were once used exclusively for white communities so it is just a way to even the playing field.
Harris is tackling systemic injustice alongside Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in other ways, too.
Credit: @KamalaHarris / Twitter
Just this week, the duo introduced a bill that would reduce recidivism through housing after incarcerated individuals leave the system. America has the highest percentage of our population behind bars than any other country in the world. Many of the laws that place folks in jail started out as Jim Crow laws and have simply evolved to become more insidiously racist.
Regardless of those offended by the proposal, people are coming out in droves to support the effort.
Credit: @ArtMarius2 / Twitter
Keep it going, Harris. #BlackWomenMagic
A Univision poll showed that Kamala Harris support by Latinos more than doubled from 6 percent to 22 percent after the debates.
@KamalaHarris / Twitter
The poll only included 411 Latino voters and showed Kamala Harris in the lead with 22 percent. Castro was behind her with 18 percent, and Biden and Sanders were tied at 16 percent.