Friday, May 12, 2017

Can We Just Say "Ah, That's Okay, No Big Deal"

It seems like Indigenous folk are always angry. If you follow any media story about Indians it would seem to be the case. It seems there is no limit as to what will anger the Indigenous person.

This week a White Woman had her art show cancelled due to a backlash of angry Indians. She was copying the art works of deceased artist Norval Morrisseau.  Lot of anger for her copying his work. The gallery cancelled her show.

There was this other time when the Swine Flu hit Canada a few years ago and the Ministry of Health sent body bags to northern Reserves. People were angry that time. Not only did they send body bag but they considered not sending hand sanitizer to the Reserves because of the alcohol content in the sanitizer.  Now that was pretty funny. Funny as in stupid for even making it an agenda item for a number of days.

There are times in our lives when we have the right to get angry. The sanitizer is one of the times when a whole group of people were stereotyped by our government. I was pissed at the arrogance by the bureaucracy and how they see Indians.  Like we are kids and can't handle getting hand sanitizer. This is one case were we had every right to be upset  The body bags, however grotesque, was a mistake. In that case the powers to be should have said "maanoo, ani-sha, babaamendan." (let it go, its for nothing and don't bother) and laughed it off. The funny thing is that we should have laughed at the absurdity. Did they really believe the body bags were sent in earnest to prepare for the deaths? Now that is ridiculous. Some one made a bad goof, a mistake. Even if it was an ugly mistake, its a mistake. Give them heck and move on. But nope the mistake was used for political crying. The leadership should have used the incident to make fun of and ridicule the bumbling bureaucracy that they deal with day in and day out.

With many things we should speak up and voice our concerns and our outrage or our disappointment. There are times when a mistake is just a mistake. Those are the times when we should conserve our energy for things which are truly wrong. Of course I do understand the fact some things are subtle and many may not know its a point of contention; something which we should be outraged about. I understand and know we should be voicing about those times. Still in some cases we should have restraint when it is a mistake. Like the stupid white woman who copied Morrisseau's art. She just didn't show influence from his style, she just copied it. Some folks said she was engaging  in Genocide. If that is not hyperbole or over the top rhetoric, well then, nothing is. I think she was stupid in how she addressed the criticism. Of course she didn't understand the meaning behind Morrisseau's works. She should have said that. But nope she dismissed the critics. Which of course angered them some more. This is one instance where it got big and should not have been. But hey we have lost the ability to say "Maanoo".

In the news media people are starting an "appropriation fund" for writers. Now that is a direct attack on Indigenous and other non-white groups. This is a fight for white privilege. Here is one of those areas that is clear. The idea came up with a magazine wanted to dedicate and issue and have Indigenous input and views. The editor wrote in the same issue to go ahead and appropriate stories about People of Colour. The group wants to encourage cultural appropriation as it is their Right. The right to continue  with their dominance. That is what it plays out as. So this is one of those cut and dry issues, where we know they are dumb and it should be fought. But is it really cut and dry? In some ways yes. The appropriation fund is clearly an attack but the article to go ahead and appropriate stories or characters is not. That is the problem, the first issue was about difference of opinion and we can disagree with  what Hal Niedzviecki wrote.  He expressed an opinion and he wasn't attacking Indigenous folk. I was conflicted about this but kind of agree in some sense. I think we can write what we don't know. For example, I am a fan of Bernard Cormwell's fiction. He writes in the first person of a fictional historical heroes. So its not a cut and dry about writing. It is cut and dry when someone is openly supremacist.

Fighting for what is right and what is stupid are different animals. The problem is, we can never agree on what is stupid and what is right.

But I am always amazed on how people can explain the issues - cultural appropriation and what it means.

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