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dany masado

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what qualifies as an authentic culture? are some cultures more authentic than others?

I ask this from the perspective of a young african woman living in the era of globalization. This conversation started when a friend of mine told me that the choreography that I had prepared for our annual african cultural show for Michigan State University was not "authentic African" dance. This eventually translated other aspects of what it means to have an authentic culture, from the way we are raised, to the languages we speak, to how we must avoid the influence of the western world. I believe that there is no such thing as an authentic culture, and that it is much more productive to open ourselves to others and absorb the good things that exist within others. I am open to anyone who can explain to me where I've gone wrong in my understanding of authenticity and I look forward to your answers

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  • Jul 12 2011: Hi Dany
    I always wanted to partake in some aspects of First Nations and Metis life. But I understood from my white child point of view that all was not well in that camp either. It helped my understanding in that we fostered children from reserves until I was 12 or 13.
    In any event I was never invited to join in the woodland life that even then existed.
    'Uncle' Kenny was a trapper, he dressed in leathers, traded skins, pushed dogs until skidoos came along, packed flour and coffee and bacon and such for four months on winter trap lines.
    I saw true culture becoming disheveled and abused by people who wanted to cash in.
    I refused to appropriate the symbols of my brothers and sisters
    somehow I knew enough to be fully open.
    Now I see all around me the 'plight' of the visible urban oboriginals
    three or four generations untangling dysfunction that merely hides a a valid culture.
    I see that things are getting better.
    I am empowered enough to occasionally wear a ceremonial beaded rawhide coat on a sunny day
    many people here have memories if not living roots in First Nation art, craft, and culture.
    I see peoples eyes well up when they remember an aunt or gramma who cured moose hides and made mukluks, uncles made snowshoes-old school- bannock making neighbor mothers, unlocked doors.
    Every memory like that is precious.

    I can't define what Uncle Kenny had, but I wanted it.

    Ray

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