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09 May 2012 @ 09:05 am
I wear a keffiyeh. I try my best not to be appropriative about it; it's a solidarity thing and I have talked to several Palestinian friends/associates about it and am usually reassured it's a valid solidarity thing. (And then they usually take it off my head and retie it.)

Today at a coffee shop, a little girl sitting with her mum pointed at me (in a peacoat with the keffiyeh tied around my head to keep the rain off) and said, "She's like us!"

The mum was clearly embarrassed and explained that the girl's father wears the same keffiyeh I do and told her it's not polite to point. I sort of looked at my feet until I bought coffee. I just wonder if I could have handled it differently.
Data Magpietylik on May 9th, 2012 02:13 pm (UTC)
Huh. I can certainly understand feeling like you didn't know what to do.

Depending on the age of the girl, I might have smiled and said something like "I have a lot of friends who are Palestinian, and while I am not, I wear this to celebrate our friendship." (I'm guessing if she were really old enough that solidarity would be a meaningful concept, she wouldn't be a "little girl". Though it's always guesswork.)
kaz? bonne?: sunflowersdatenshiblue on May 9th, 2012 11:05 pm (UTC)
I guess I'm hopeless, but I see nothing wrong with what happened. Yes, you're like them, like that little girl. Human. Supporting other humans.

Like I said, hopeless.
Firebirdfirebird5 on May 10th, 2012 10:00 am (UTC)
Can I ask where you got the keffiyeh?
Chasechikchasingtides on May 10th, 2012 11:44 am (UTC)
It was a gift. Why?
Firebirdfirebird5 on May 10th, 2012 12:14 pm (UTC)
The commodification of Palestine solidarity is a big issue when it comes to appropriation, and I think it's important to know the origin - whether it's Palestinian-made or one of those Chinese-made keffiyehs you see on hipsters everywhere. That's what I was wondering.
Chasechikchasingtides on May 12th, 2012 11:26 am (UTC)
As a gift, I would find asking that incredibly inappropriate.
Firebirdfirebird5 on May 14th, 2012 06:37 am (UTC)
Since the authenticity (or in-) of the keffiyeh is the heart of appropriation, and you said you don't want to appropriate, I don't see how it would be rude to ask.

To be frank, I don't think wearing a keffiyeh day to day is a gesture of solidarity. 9 out of 10 times that you see someone wearing it on the street, it's an ignorant appropriative hipster who doesn't even know its connection with Palestine. I get irritated when I see people wearing it for this reason - I can only imagine what a slap in the face it must be for a Palestinian. (I can imagine because of how I feel when someone appropriates my culture - I'm Indian.) I mean, the "trendy keffiyeh" is everywhere.

As for the 1% who know what it means - well, solidarity activists can be appropriative too! It's easy to show how much you care about Palestine by tying on a keffiyeh while doing nothing else for actual real-life Palestinians. We don't have to go through the shit they do on a daily basis, and that is ultimately what invests the keffiyeh with meaning.

You can't explain you're a genuine ally to everyone who sees you, so I would say stay on the safe side, to make sure you don't accidentally hurt someone who, looking at you, sees another example of appropriation - whether you meant it like that or not. Treat the keffiyeh with respect, with reverence. Wear it only when it can speak. Wear it to solidarity rallies, wear it to BDS events, wear it on the next flotilla to Gaza. There are better ways to show solidarity.
skizzy the wonder lizardskizzylizard on May 16th, 2012 04:25 am (UTC)
This is a good comment and you should feel good