Heritage

Heritage

I have no heritage

only entitlement 

that tries to tell me

that to weave a life of meaning

it is okay

to appropriate anything 

that catches my eye

especially 

if it means nothing to me

it can give meaning to me

 

I’ll redefine my self

no – not redefine

because as it stands now

I have no meaning

no self

outside of a cultural context

of entitlement

which tells me that even because 

I am a nobody

it is better being

anything else

 

the music I listen to

the clothes I wear

reflect a world around me

I am merely walking though

other cultures

are like zoo exhibits 

art installations

to amuse me

to divert me

from the fact that

 

I have no heritage

no backstory of ancestral struggles

other than the banal

patriarchal war for control

money oil sex religion

chains to hold people down 

not to free them 

 

scraps of pasts

remains of genocidal cultures

omnipresent days

arbitrarily clumped together 

for momentary comfort

 

who cares about heritage

as long we are comfortable

Back in the mid-80’s I became involved with Therapeutic Touch (I still practice it). One of the teachers was a native woman who lead me into an exploration of native culture – drum circles, sweat lodges that sort of thing. Weekend Warriors was the term used for guys like me. I saw it as exploration of a culture, not as appropriation. I was given a name, a spirit animal – which I now see as appropriation.

When I told my Dad about this he sent me a beautiful, hand-carved talking stick one year, then another year he gave me a pipe. I read tons of stuff, as I usually do, then sort of lost interest as it became clear that many involved were ‘buying’ heritage & judging it by the amount of turquoise jewelry you had, or who lead your vision quest. I eventually gifted my talking stick & pipe to a native AA member who was stunned & thrilled to get them. 

This is some of the context for this piece prompted by one of the Rules for Monks – using these Rules as prompts isn’t, to me, appropriation as I am in not way interpreting them but letting them resonate in my life. I am no monk 🙂 The piece also bounces around some current buzz words: entitlement, appropriation.

What heritage I have – Swedish, Welsh – is interesting but not ‘exotic.’ I am certainly proud of being both but there are no black rappers exploring Swedish street culture. I was also thinking of that news item a few years ago about the white woman who was passing herself off as black, until her white parents spoke out. Her defence was that she saw herself as black so she was black (or something like that).

I saw that as a need to create definition though stealing another culture while denying one’s own. An action that she felt entitled to do & her response to challenges wasn’t apology but to write a book about being misunderstood. Not that this appropriation isn’t a two-way street: Asians neck deep in European luxury goods, getting their eyes surgically rounded. But that is another blog post 🙂

 

Hey! Now you can give me $$$ to defray blog fees & buy coffee in Washington at 2019’s capfireslam.org – sweet,eh? paypal.me/TOpoet

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