By Jim “Pappy” Moore
I’m stealing your culture. When I go to a Mexican restaurant and eat tacos, and tostadas, and tortillas, and salsa, and pico de gallo, and enchiladas, I’m stealing Latino culture. I do it every week, and I’m going to keep doing it.
When I listen to James Brown sing “This is a Man’s World” or any of his many great songs, I’m stealing African American culture.
When I embrace Asian art – the Happy Buddha, the metal printings of peasants laboring in rice paddies, the beautiful women in paintings, and the vast bamboo temples (all of which adorn my house), I’m stealing the culture of Southeast Asians.
When I eat pepperoni pizza, I’m stealing the culture of Italians.
When I eat German chocolate cake, I’m stealing the culture of Germans.
When I admire the art and lifestyle of Indians aka Native Americans, I’m stealing their culture.
My life is a cobbling together of disparate pieces of other cultures. I’ve drawn upon other cultures to create the life I enjoy. I’ve happily borrowed from other cultures and adopted as my own the things I enjoy 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 it angers anyone for any reason. This is my life, and if I want to eat Mexican food, I’ll do it. If I want to wear my hair like a Rastafarian, I’ll do it. If I want to listen to James Brown, or Adele, or Rage Against The Machine, I’ll do it. If I want to act like a Viking, I’ll do it. If I want to try out a sweat lodge, I’ll do it. I’m an American. I don’t need the permission of any person or any group to embrace as my own any part of any culture I choose to embrace.
No culture owns me. No culture owns any of the things which originated with it. The people who claim to own their culture are mistaken. They do not own their culture. They are simply people trying to tell others how to live their lives. Reject these know-it-alls. Do not give them one minute’s thought. They have an inflated sense of their own importance.
This is America. This is our country. We decide what being an American means, and it mainly means you get to choose how you want to live your life. If you want to completely emulate a culture that you were not born into, that is your right, and no one else has any say-so.
Can you imagine how asinine it would sound if anyone said “football, basketball and baseball belong to our culture, and other groups are stealing them!” Or, “we invented television, so stop stealing our ideas.” Or, “stop eating hamburgers and hot dogs; those are ours!”
Since the beginning of time, people have come into contact with other cultures and have borrowed from those 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 all of us, to pick and choose the parts we like and make them our own.
Copyright 2016, Jim “Pappy” Moore. All rights reserved.