You may be wondering why I’m telling you to wear dreadlocks. Well, here’s why:
I’ve made no secret about how I think the idea of cultural appropriation is ignorant. See this post if you want to read more on that.
But the other day I had a text exchange with a Hopi medicine woman I met at a spiritual retreat last spring. Here’s part of what she had to say:
“Remember–we’re all in this together. And if you search deep inside you’ll remember it’s all the same. Carry the message.”
When I break this down I see three things that resonate with what I’ve written here this year:
1. “You’ll remember.” Recall some recent posts where I describe how we never really learn anything in life, we simply remember what we already know.
2. “It’s all the same.” That’s why real indigenous people don’t hold their secrets close to their vest. They know there is nothing unique in the human condition and that every culture’s concepts are similar–and we need to be reminded of that.
3. “Carry the message.” Sharing. That’s why cultural appropriation is such a silly and so American thing. It’s my experience that the concept doesn’t resonate with real indigenous people because they want to share their rituals, their knowledge and most of all–their message. “Carry the message,” she told me.
That echoed the inclusiveness we heard again and again all weekend long at the spiritual gathering: we were exhorted to carry the message, the rituals and the ideals forward. They didn’t ask for our racial credentials. It was enough that we belong to the same race: the human race.
So when I read people going all ballastic about cultural appropriation–“don’t wear dreadlocks!” “don’t call them ‘aunties’!” “Don’t do their rituals!” I have to laugh.
That is just not what real indigenous peoples say at all. So remember that. Wear dreadlocks if you want to. Call anyone “auntie.” And do what rituals resonate for you, regardless of origin.
Because as Hopi Grandmother said to me, “it’s all the same.”
Her final text to me was this:
“Remember, where positive energy is, the negative energy cannot survive!”
So enough of this fault finding for every so-called cultural infraction, real or imagined. If good humans are gathered together to do good it doesn’t matter how they do it. Let’s wear dreadlocks if we like. Let’s heal the world.