Dear bloggees, I was wrong. I am rarely wrong, as you know, usually sublimely right in most every facet of life. But in this vital controversy, I was wrong, and as it often does, it took my glorious daughter to set me straight. It stems partly from a misunderstanding about the actual meaning of the words ‘cultural appropriation,’ which I took merely to be a benign imagining of another culture, but which, as the writer pointed out in yesterday’s post, is not the case, it has a much more venomous connotation of theft and exploitation.
But Anna also reminded me about the suffering of indigenous people in this country, not just in the past, but to this day – the lack of clean drinking water, hospitals and schools, the phenomenally high suicide rate among youth, a situation caused by neglect and indifference, and for a time, actual government policy, an aim to destroy indigenous languages and communities. So anything we can do to set that abysmal situation straight, to make it better, is what we should be focussed on, and not a sarcastic rant about how we white folk should be able to write whatever we want.
Anna sent me this, Jesse Wente on CBC radio this morning, a profoundly moving talk about what the issue means to him as an indigenous man.
I am sorry for rushing to judgement and recrimination. What’s good about this is that it has blown the lid from long-held assumptions and thoughtless notions, and, perhaps, a kind of racism we were – or at least I was – not even aware of.
Here’s my wise and beautiful daughter. We had dinner there yesterday. Joy.
In my cab home, the driver, who watched my grandsons waving goodbye, said, “You’re lucky. My mother is in Ethiopia.” Yes. Very lucky and very blessed. Though sometimes, remarkably obtuse.
P.S. This is not to say that sometimes the forces of political correctness do not go to absurd extremes, because they do. But not in this instance.