The Adivasi community in India is not just misrepresented. Being a community that continues to be marginalized makes them a target of discrimination as well. Amoh by Jade in its attempt to fuel its capitalistic ventures which they solely profit from did not take this into consideration when they culturally appropriated the Dongria Kondh Adivasis in their ‘The Descendents of Niyam Raja‘ collection.
#AdivasiLivesMatter is a hashtag started by @adivasilivesmatter on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, which brought to light exactly how Amoh by Jade was wrong in using the Dongria Kondh attire for profit. They spoke out about it on their social media.
Following the post, there was a small influx of people who called out Amoh by Jade on their social media account, in particular, Instagram. With more people calling them out, instead of apologizing or responding to the comments made on their posts, they soon ended up deleting any negative criticism and after a while disabled comments altogether.
Amoh by Jade, to fuel its capitalistic ventures which they solely profit from, culturally appropriated the attire of the Dongria Kondh Adivasis.
Cultural appropriation, especially in the fashion industry is fairly widespread. It does not acknowledge the struggle of minority communities, nor does it cater to helping them overcome the challenges they face by doing something as small as donating even a third of their proceeds to help the people they profit from.
The Dongria Kondh tribe, found in the Niyamgiri hill range of Odisha, are Adivasis who worship the mountain god Niyam Raja. They have a deep admiration for their gods and the nature that surrounds them, which affects many aspects of their lives.
The Adivasis have however had to struggle to keep their land from being encroached on by Vedanta, a mining company who wanted to exploit their land by mining bauxite deposits, rendering it useless for the Dongria Kondh to live off it like they have been for centuries. Yet they persevered and eventually, the Dongria Kondh won against Vedanta, after a drawn-out battle, despite their agonies. The Dongria Kondh have also been falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned even after their victory.
Amoh by Jade ended up deleting any negative criticism and after a while disabled comments altogether.
Amoh by Jade’s new collection is very problematic and insensitive. It reeks of a complete lack of awareness as to how Adivasi people are treated in this country. Using their culture to propagate a sense of etherealness, evident in their photoshoot, is cruel and ignorant, to say the least. They use Adivasi culture but refuse to acknowledge the suffering they have faced, almost as if commodifying them is more important than learning about them.
No thought went into actually partnering with a member of the Dongria Kondh tribe, or even acknowledging them at the Lakme Fashion Week, or even making sure they raise proper awareness of what they face. They overuse their position of power knowing that they can’t be sued for it, and even though it is unfortunately legal, it is still unethical. Treating a minority group like a fashion accessory, to be put on when you feel like and take off when you don’t, especially when you’re profiting from it and their lives remain unchanged, is malicious and vile.
Featured Image Credit: Adivasi Lives Matter