Dear Dirty Advice:
Urban Outfitters recently released a line of Navajo clothing and accessories. They’re a bunch of loose t’s and tunics and “Navajo Hipster Panties” with Native American-y designs painted on them. Das racist?
-Sasha Houston Brown, member of the Santee Sioux Nation
Using the Navajo Nation’s trademarked name to create crappy tunics for hipster college girls is tacky, distasteful, technically stealing from Native Americans (again) and probably illegal. But das not racist.
Urban Outfitter’s line doesn’t say anything bad about Native Americans with its shitty designs. It says something bad about Urban Outfitters.
Sometimes is difficult to tell the difference between what’s racist and what’s not racist. Here’s a few examples to help you tell the difference.
1: Urban Outfitters released a t-shirt available in two color options: white and charcoal and “Obama” and black. And, you guessed it; “Obama” is Urban Outfitter’s special shade of brown. Das a little racist.
2: In 2003, Urban Outfitters manufactured Ghettopoly, a Monopoly knock-off with bonuses for getting “yo whole neighborhood addicted to crack” and properties like “Cheap Trick Avenue”, “Weinstein’s Gold and Platinum”, and ” Tyron’s Gun Shop”. To add insult to injury, David Chang, the game’s creator said that he used the black stereotypes so that everyone could get a good laugh and promised to make more games along the same vein. Gross.
None of this should be a big surprise considering that Urban Outfitters is owned by Richard Hayne, an ultra-conservative and supporter of Rick Santorum. And according to at least one rival designer, Urban Outfitters’ occasional racist or controversial piece is released in full knowledge of the controversy it will stir. Ami Cohen, American Apparel employee told The Week that “If Urban Outfitters is good at something, it’s getting publicity”.