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  • Bindimu

White HIPPIES, Cultural Appropriation and Knowledge of Self.

Ugh, let's talk about white hippies...


 

The origins of the so-called hippie movement is said to have been formed by groups of predominantly white middle-classed american youths following the counter-culture movement in the U.S. as a result of an opposition to the Vietnam war. These very same people then proceeded to take up space in the civil rights movement in a bid to promote non-violence towards a system that has and continues to breed violence against Black americans to this day. But I digress. The movement was then adopted by other white middle-classed youths around the world, including the descendants of this colony in so-called australia.


For a group of people that are portrayed and portray themselves as being grounded "good vibes only" "we are all one" and full of love and light, they have caused so much angst and resentment amongst some Indigenous people, as well as Indian and Indigenous Turtle Island folks (and basically every non-white culture). If I had a dollar for every experience I've had or heard about my family or friends horrific experiences with white hippies, I'd be able to buy my land back.


My experience with hippies has been exhausting and tedious. I have been sheltered from encounters with hippies for most of my life but now that I'm working full-time in the music and arts industry, I unfortunately regularly witness the fuckery that is hippie culture. Self-proclaimed counter-culture actually manifested as a sub-culture of australian culture. (If you're reading this from outside of australia, google byron bay).


My fathers parents are Gugu Yalanji and Yugambeh. These are two very popular regions where hippies have the luxury to check out from society, take their intergenerational wealth and occupy stolen lands and this occupation is intensified by the numerous music festivals that are held on both ancestral countries at the detriment of the surrounding ecosystem. My ancestors have developed and performed beautiful songs, dances and stories, creating elaborate and majestic ceremonial garments and taken care of country for hundreds of centuries, only to have country swarmed by intoxicated dude-bro's and soiled hippies to claim, capitalize and perform cultural practices that aren't their own.


The basis of cultural ideologies of the hippie movement is contingent on the exoticism, extraction and commercialisation of pre-colonial global Indigenous practices, none of which stems from the ethnicity or nationality of the individuals of who practice hippie culture. They rely on the beliefs, sciences and customs of Indigenous peoples to cultivate their laid back lifestyles while reaping the benefits of white supremacy and completely disregarding and even gaslighting and minimizing the experience of Indigenous peoples. The use of "Indigenous peoples" here is collectively describing countries and people who have had their lands colonized by the white supremacists such as the british empire. This is meant as a reclamation of ancestral lands and culture and is not meant to invalidate the experience individual cultural peoples.


Cultural appropriation goes beyond disrespectful festival goers wearing imitative cultural attire. Indigenous people, particularly in so-called australia and america, have been systematically removed from their lands and persecuted for practicing culture. Colonizers legislated that it was a criminal act for any Indigenous person to practice culture i.e. singing, dancing, speaking their native tongue etc. until very recently.