Settler’s Guilt, Part II

Tomorrow is National Aboriginal Day, according to my calendars both at work and at home. I didn’t realize that this was a thing until maybe 3 months ago. I’ve never celebrated it, or even acknowledged it before.

Well, so happy National Aboriginal Day everyone. May it be the start of an upwards spiral of happiness and well-being.

***

I’ve been thinking a lot about culture and appropriation. I read this very thoughtful post on just that subject. It’s written to non-native people wearing headdresses.

An Open Letter to Non-Natives in Headdresses
…I see you are confused about what constitutes cultural appropriation. I would like to provide you with resources and information on the subject so that you can better understand what our concerns are.

I’m going to first note that I’ve never worn a headdress. I’ve worn plenty of hats. As a child, if I found a seagull feather on the ground, I might put it behind my ear. That’s about where my experience with headdresses ends.

I’m not guilty of this offense. And yet… on the first read-through, I felt super defensive. I was being told that I could not do something and I didn’t like it.

In the article, she references Cultural Appropriation Bingo. Basically, you read the statements, and if you identify with them, you might part of the Cultural Appropriation problem.

Out of 24 statements, I identified with 24. All of them. That’s, like, a super bingo with a capital everything.

I’m a seething mass of cultural appropriation that’s oozing down the street appropriating cultures with every step.

(I’m going to pause and appreciate the image in my mind of me lurching around the world as personified cultures run screaming. I am the Incredible Hulk crossed with Godzilla crossed with the Loch Ness Monster of cultural appropriation. And no, that’s not going on my resume.)

It’s uncomfortable to stare that in the face. It makes my brain try to flee when I try to focus on it too much. But it left an impression, and the thoughts keep swirling.

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3 thoughts on “Settler’s Guilt, Part II

  1. Ha, I like the image!

    I think it’s refreshingly honest to say that you identify with the BINGO card. (https://iheartthreadbared.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/3223223918_8c26b9105d_o.jpg)

    But please don’t stop at discomfort! Guilt isn’t useful unless it creates some sort of change. Each space on that BINGO card is a jumping off place to understanding, and understanding systems of oppression and privilege is The Point. Cultural appropriation is part of something much larger and more insidious than wearing headdresses, and the discomfort people feel (along with the defensiveness) is so deep because intuitively people realize the discussion is also much deeper than it appears.

    I think a good rule of thumb is when you feel defensive about something, you should at some point take the time to try to identify WHY. If I were in the business of dispensing life lessons, that’d be number 1 or 2 at least.

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    1. Wow… Thanks for taking the time to come and read this.

      (Here’s where I sheepishly admit that I got a bit fan-girlish about you leaving a comment. Then I reread my post and noticed all of my grammar mistakes and had to go clean up a little bit.)

      “But please don’t stop at discomfort!” Thanks for the reminder. I think I’ll be using this as a platform to chew on my thoughts about why I would feel defensive about that. Then, maybe I’ll do some research on the Mambo to see if I have to change my blog name.

      Like

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