Kenya Moore eventually apologizes for wearing Native American headdress

KenyaCulturalAppropriation
It seems Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Kenya Moore has found herself in hot water after the latest episode, which centered around Falynn Guobadia’s Halloween party. Many of the ladies were dressed as big cats and Falynn was dressed as (I assume) Medusa. Kenya showed up in a costume that was obvious cultural appropriation. Specifically, she was dressed in full Native American headdress. Several of the other housewives called her out for wearing this inappropriate outfit. And there was a huge social media backlash. Kenya being Kenya of course doubled down and initially said that she wore the headdress because it was a part of her heritage. Besides all of the drama that went down on the show (Falynn trying to hit someone with a golf club for talking about her husband), Kenya was the biggest story. Kenya gave a prime example of what NOT to do when you are caught slipping. Below is more about the drama via People:

On Sunday’s episode of the Bravo series, Moore, 50, dressed in an ensemble that included a Native American headdress as she attended a Halloween party at the home of Falynn Guobadia.

Several costars (including Drew Sidora and Porsha Williams), as well as many on social media, spoke out about feeling uncomfortable with the costume.

“Kenya’s Native American costume is super problematic but I ain’t trying to ruffle no feathers for this girls trip,” said Sidora, 35, during a confessional, adding with a laugh, “It feels like I’m always the only one that sees the issues with Kenya Moore’s decisions.”

“Kenya is a Native American warrior. I thought we weren’t doing that no more,” said Williams, 39. “Like, I knew that this girl was crazy, but add lame to the list, add whack to the list.”

Moore defended her decision in a tweet on Sunday, writing in response to one piece of criticism about the costume, “Also part of my heritage #RHOA.”

During the RHOA After Show, Williams referred to Moore’s costume as “head-to-toe cultural appropriation,” while costar LaToya Ali said of a heated exchange between herself and Moore during the show, “I couldn’t take Kenya seriously as we were having the conversation because she was in an Indian-chief costume. … Isn’t that called cultural appropriation?”

But Kandi Burruss jumped to Moore’s defense, telling Ali, “To be honest with you, I didn’t think anything of it.”

“I don’t think she was wearing the costume to mock anyone, and I think she thought it was a beautiful costume because it’s the sign of a leader — a chief is someone to look up to, not to be made fun of,” added Burruss, 44. “And I don’t think she was doing it as a joke to be mean or anything like that.

[From People]

have never seen an episode from the Housewives franchise (I am not a fan of non-fashion and non-singing reality TV). I used to have enough drama in my own life and didn’t feel a need to watch other people create their own. I did watch part of this particular episode for context. Despite not ever watching the show, I do know who the women are from RHOA because of their previous work. Kenya can be hella messy and stubborn and rarely admits when she is wrong. However, Kenya has finally apologized for wearing the Native American headdress which should have been the first thing she did instead of making excuses for her ensemble. The thing that got me was how Kenya first used the excuse that the headdress was a part of her heritage. Listen, I am sure Kenya has a smidge of Native American heritage (like many of us), but I am certain she did not grow up with their customs. Therefore she has no idea of the purpose of wearing a headdress. Here is what Kenya commented on a post by Illuminatives:

“I want to sincerely apologize for inappropriately wearing the Native American headdress as a costume. I now realize that this was both disrespectful and insensitive and would never have done it if I had that knowledge and understanding beforehand. I regret it. When you know better, you do better. I am genuinely sorry.”

[From Instagram via USA Today]

We often think cultural appropriation is when the majority culture (read white) appropriates a previously oppressed culture’s clothing, style, or spiritual practices (usually there is a financial component to this as well). However, taking a piece of music or even language from its original purpose can be appropriation. Kenya said the headdress was a part of her heritage, but what Native American ethnic group is she connected to? Was the headdress from that same group? Despite not being completely aware of all the ways I could appropriate a culture, I always ask questions, and if I f*ck up I apologize immediately. I think this was all anyone was asking of Kenya. It was also funny that LaToya said she couldn’t even take Kenya seriously. I am sure Kenya didn’t mean to do any harm in her choice of “costume” but harm was done and Kenya needed to own it, apologize, then educate herself. I hope this situation of RHOA will open up conversations again about the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation. We all need to understand the difference including myself.

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12 Responses to “Kenya Moore eventually apologizes for wearing Native American headdress”

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  1. ME says:

    Someone else’s cultural dress is NOT a “costume”. People need to stop. This is offensive. She should have known better. Gross.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      At her age, she should have known better. But I guess wisdom didn’t come with her age!!

  2. Noki says:

    I think it would help if these costumes shops didnt sell these traditional wears , i also feel the same when i see people dressed as priests and nuns.

  3. cer says:

    She wore stiletto black boots, a ‘sexy’ Indian princess minidress and a warrior headdress and claimed this was a tribute to her Native culture?!
    No, just no.
    Way back when I was in single digits I went as some Disneyfied Indian princess to school for Halloween, because frankly it didn’t occur to me or my family back then that it was the wrong thing to do. Never did it again, and most certainly wouldn’t now.

    • schmootc says:

      There are photos of me in Native American dress from the mid- to late-70s and I see them now and cringe. I was maybe five though, so you do what you’re told or seems fun or whatever and I know it never would have occurred to my parents to question that at the time. But it’s 2021, so yeah, pretty obvious now that’s a pile of NO.

  4. Leskat says:

    Honestly, HOW DO PEOPLE NOT KNOW DRESSING LIKE THIS IS AWFUL?? Have you not been paying attention to anything? It’s disgusting to be so deliberately out of touch and uninformed. And then to try to play the “I’m native” card, as if that was justification?

    • sa says:

      When I saw this post, I assumed she was apologizing for something from many years ago, because nobody today would think it was okay. But then I read the post.

      I don’t know if I’m more surprised that this is current or at myself for still being surprised by people.

  5. Amy Bee says:

    Doesn’t everybody know that wearing Native American headdress is inappropriate? I know the producers are trying to create drama for the show but they should not have allowed her to dress like that.

  6. BnLurkN4eva says:

    I’m tired of people’s nonsense, they know it’s appropriation but controversy sells and everyone is trying to stay relevant even when it’s through negative publicity. I hate when people do this and then pretend at being innocent. Everyone not living in a cave knows not to do this and all the other shi# they get called out for doing to get their name out there. Guess what, the world is on to this trick, notice how little waves it made, because people know, WE KNOW!

  7. GingerSnap says:

    So I am actually very Native, I’m from Oklahoma (which last time I checked is the state with the largest Native population), and I actually grew up in a town that had a neighboring Native Boarding School which my own paternal great-grandmother attended. She was Choctaw and Creek, although according to the Dawes Rolls and my own CDIB card, I am only Choctaw from her. I’m also Chickasaw from my maternal grandmother. My father was in AIM, the American Indian Movement. My aunt is pretty famed and known Fancy Dancer at Powwows in the community. My great-grandmother never spoke her Native language unless she was deathly ill because she was raised in government-mandated boarding schools that beat the language out of her and Christianity into her.

    And I would never wear traditional native clothing. Not even Choctaw, Chickasaw, or Creek. Because I am white-identifying. I look white. I have Native cheekbones and the Creek build and the Choctaw nose, but I have pale skin and naturally-auburn hair and it is an affront to my heritage to do so. Because of all the cultural misappropriation that has happened to my culture and ancestors. My aunt helped raised the current chief of my CDIB-certified tribe, and yet I would never feel comfortable doing this.

    I know better. I have never received the kind of inherent racism and bias that my Native-apparent cousins have. So, as unfortunate and as unfair as it is (I know this culture like the back of my effing hand, I am of it and in it and I know the language and my father before he died regularly went to a Medicine Man and his medicine bag sits on my bedside table to this day), it is fairer than me getting my white-looking privilege and claiming Native-heritage vulnerability. I don’t get both. I don’t always get to claim it. Not my fault and not fair, but fairer than the racism and the discrimination my more Native-apparent cousins face. If this freaking woman was truly Native, she would have known better.

  8. GingerSnap says:

    Also too, if this woman were truly of Native descent, she would know that this true version of the crown her headdress is a chief approximation of is a sacred and holy thing, and not for anyone, Native or no, to wear so casually. Especially on a holiday that has become an modern American version of play and mimicry. You don’t mimic a chief’s headdress. They are the Chief.

    One other thing I just want to share about my culture that is apropos of nothing. When the Irish Potato Famine was happening and people were starving… the Choctaw Tribe was not doing well. We had essentially nothing.

    In 1847, they met and sent the Irish $170. Considering that is $5,000 in today’s money and it happened just 14 years after the Trail of Tears. I have been to the museum. I have seen the statues of men and women and babies frozen in stone. Dead and given no real buried. Still suffering through the trauma of that. They were so poor. They still are in many ways. We have been decimated. I went to school with a full-blood Apache and it was like meeting an effing unicorn. We are dying. We will die out. But we were a noble people. And we saw another noble people dying and extended a hand. And that is why, there exists to this day, a monument to the Choctaws in Ireland. We had nothing, and we reached our hand out.

    A sculpture exists in Ireland. Of nine eagle feathers. A dedication to another fellow disenfranchised nation reaching out. It’s pretty cool. We are dying in many ways and I see it more than many of cousins can but we are dying and we will die, but in the meantime fuck this woman and her like. She is not okay. This is not allowed.