West indian culture

I’m stealing your culture! – The Gilmer mirror

By Jim “Pappy” Moore

I steal your culture. When I go to a Mexican restaurant and eat tacos, tostadas, tortillas, salsa, pico de gallo, and enchiladas, I’m stealing Latino culture. I do it every week and I will continue to do so.

When I listen to James Brown sing “This is a Man’s World” or any of his many great songs, I steal African American culture.

When I embrace Asian art – the Happy Buddha, the metal engravings of peasants working in the rice paddies, the beautiful women in the paintings, and the vast bamboo temples (all of which adorn my home), I steal the culture of Asians from the South East.

When I eat pepperoni pizza, I steal the culture of Italians.

When I eat a German chocolate cake, I steal the culture of the Germans.

When I admire the art and way of life of Indians aka Native Americans, I steal their culture.

My life is an assemblage of disparate pieces from other cultures. I have tapped into other cultures to create the life I enjoy. I have fortunately borrowed from other cultures and adopted as my own the things that I love and want as part of my life. I don’t pay royalties. I don’t ask permission. I take the things I want and appropriate them for my life.

And guess what? I don’t care if that upsets anyone for any reason. It’s my life, and if I want to eat Mexican food, I will. If I want to wear my hair like a Rastafarian, I will. If I want to listen to James Brown, or Adele, or Rage Against The Machine, I will. If I want to act like a Viking, I will. If I want to try a sweat lodge, I will. I’m American. I do not need permission from any person or group to embrace as my own any part of any culture that I choose to embrace.

No culture owns me. No culture has any of the things that are born with it. People who claim to own their culture are mistaken. They do not own their culture. They are simply people trying to tell other people how to live their lives. Reject those know-it-alls. Don’t give them a minute to think about it. They have an exaggerated sense of their own importance.

It’s America. It is our country. We decide what it means to be American, and that mostly means you get to choose how you want to live your life. If you want to completely imitate a culture you weren’t born into, that’s your right, and no one else has a say in it.

Can you imagine how silly it would sound if someone said “football, basketball and baseball belong to our culture, and other groups steal them!” Or, “we invented television, so stop stealing our ideas.” Or, “stop eating hamburgers and hot dogs; they are ours!

Since the dawn of time, people have come into contact with other cultures and have borrowed from these cultures ways of speaking, ways of creating art, ways of creating music, ways of creating food and ways of making clothes. No one owns any part of any culture. The attributes of each culture are available to each of us, to choose the parts we like and make them our own.

Copyright 2016, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.

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