26 November 2013

"There's Just So Much to Learn": Appropriation and Honoring My Ancestors

This morning I wake and ready myself to dive into my Methodologies chapter.  I write how I take a "Mestiza approach -- with feminist and Indigenous lenses (with Earth-based, Creativity-centered, Multi/Trans-celebrating, and Spiritually-engaged attributes) -- applied to ethnoautobiographical and literary critical methodologies."  Kind of a mouthful I guess.  My writing mentor asked me, after we read a poem of mine, about the complicated sentence structures I use in my academic work in contrast to the simplicity of my poetry.

I need to think about that.

I also rise up this morning and begin to think a little bit more about my journey in navigating life as Mestiza in conjunction with these concerns about appropriation.  I read an article this morning entitled "What's the Difference Between Cultural Exchange and Cultural Appropriation?"  and I am a bit caught to the quick.  I'm in love with these popular sweaters these days, and I wonder about this trend to wear Indigenous looking patterns.  I marvel at how I feel compelled to have one, and I don't even watch TV!

Still, I've been pretending I am Pocahontas for a long time. You know, as I was reading Miscegenation Blues: Voices of Mixed Race Women and I read a woman's story about being black and white, and yet feeling like the Tahitian women she saw on the television were really her people.  I think that's how I felt about Disney's Pocahontas and how I felt about Mariah Carey as a teen too.  I grew up watching a lot of television, and feeling Out of Place in my LA suburban hometown.  I didn't feel that a Xicana or Filipina sense of self was available to me, and so I looked around and found role models where I could.

Now, as an adult embracing my multi: ethnicitites, cultures, and homelands, I struggle knowing how to honor my Indigenous ancestors while recognizing my Euroamerican privileges.  I've said it before, and I feel it a lot.

I love my lola and abuelo, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from the cultural exchanges I have been invited to be a part of as a granddaughter, but I hear concerns (internal and external) about always giving respect.  My mentor uses the phrase babaylan-inspired, and after a conversation with a Mestiza mujer about her own concerns of Anzaldua's use of the word nepantla, I say nepantera -inspired as well.

And, yet, I know there is more.  There really is just so much to learn, and (sigh) I trust I am on the right path because it is in my story, family's story, family's bloodline, family's family family....

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