On cultural appropriation, and stolen truths, and migration

Once upon a time, there was a village.

This village, was more advanced than most. In technology, and soul work.
This village was smaller than most. Everyone knew everyone, and love was everywhere to be found.

All of their histories, their tales, their art, and their love songs, were held in a beautiful library, in the center of the town.

One night, a thief came to the village.

And, in an amazing feat, took every single book, every piece, every song, from the library.
And brought it back to bigger village.

Years would pass, and the thief’s children would deny these charges:
“Our people wouldn’t do that”
“It’s not in our history books””It’s not real”

And the small village’s children, distraught and confused began to believe these lies.

“Maybe our people were never that great”
“That was the past, it’s all over now”
“It’s not real”

Every once in a while, a page from the stolen books, would fly off. Soiled, torn and dirty, everyone in the small village would rejoice at these findings, as reassurance that their culture had once existed.

Every once in a while, a traveler from the bigger village would sell them a page, he had found, and enhanced.

With shinier drawings, and scribbles over their names.

Every single time, They bought it.

**********

I write this story, as I walk on yet another tourist shop, finding yet another sculpture. The tag, reads: MADE IN PERU. Even, here in Utah, where our desert rocks, and our river crystals , that draw crowds by the dozen, we still find it necessary not just to sell what is not rightfully ours, what is from this land, but what is from other lands as well.

It is because, in a land without it’s own culture, white people are OBSESSED WITH CULTURE, not their own, but that of others. These practices of white supremacy are usually dismissed with claims of a counter-obsession; we are a people obsessed in our grief

Shaming aside, I continue to find that as a migrant, I am obsessed.

Tears stream down my face, at every sculpture, every print, every reminder of our stolen truths. The fashion industry has become aware that I am not alone, in a country filled with children of migrants, and first-genners, Aztec and South American prints have become a trend.

My culture is now being sold, infinity scarf, and matching shoes included.

And, every single time, I buy it. Though, I realize that these prints will not bring them back, that these words are fake, that every dollar that I spend further contributes to this industry, I am but a lost child looking and finding pictures of a home that she never knew, of a culture that is intentionally forgotten. Thought these testaments will never heal the wound, they are like a drug to me, making the pain of the past shine through as the apology from the future. My people cannot afford their own culture, and yet it hangs from every gringo home, as yet another souvenir from a long forgotten massacre.

To bring this up, is to shame, after all, it is not their fault, right? They are merely descendants of the beast, they are merely offspring of the thieves, they are merely witnesses.

Yet, they are not. Every “trip to Peru” facebook album, is another reminder of the borders stopping me from seeing my family, I have missed funerals and birthdays. Weddings. And though an apology would be nice, instead, I would settle for an acknowledgement.

But to acknowledge our pain, would be to admit that it is real, just as they dismiss the too true claims that #BLACK LIVES MATTER, they will always dismiss that this is an intentional trend, meant to exploit not just our labor, but now our wallets.

Just, as they claim that #ALL LIVES MATTER (more than black ones, apparently), just as they claim that they “marketed these ideas”, just as they proudly announce that society has ALWAYS loved colors, and that we as a people must SHARE in our ART.

Cultural appropriation is not just a real practice, it is a disease, that holds my culture hostage.
The sooner that we acknowledge this, the sooner that we will all be able to start conversations, and dreams for a future. Until then, the intentional genocide of our art is left for profit. And the intentional silence towards it, makes descendants into thieves, all over again.

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