Inappropriate Appropriation

I write this while my head is reeling. I feel dizzy with pain and shame in the center of my cranium. A lot like a panic attack, but it’s not. It’s a realization.

Remember when you were a little kid, and your face would flush with heat as tears welled up in your eyes? Perhaps bawling like a child would be therapeutic right now, but I don’t think it would break this kind of fever I’m feeling. It’s just hard for me to get over a feeling of utter embarrassment—that realization of being an ignoramus. All I can say is that I’m glad I won’t be executing what would’ve been insensitive, offensive, and totally not my place to present in any form…

I’d planned to do a small installation of Sangoma items in the corner of the room in the gallery for my solo show. Some of the elements I made, some I found in online auctions, most were authentic Zulu pieces. It took a lot of time, I spent some money, but that’s too bad. I learned something. Even though I did it out of pure love, it’s just not appropriate to appropriate things that are not mine.

I guess I mistakenly thought I was “different.” I am not different. I’ve always had a deep love for African groups since I was twelve years old: the Zulu, Wodaabe, Maasai, and Dogon, especially their art and music, drum rhythms, culture, and the way they socialize in their individual societies. I think they’re smarter than most Western societies. That might make me a kind of ally, but nothing more. I was just a very curious Jewish white kid hungry to know about people, wanting to learn new things outside of my world. But so the hell what? I really wasn’t thinking when I was planning for this part of my show. Duh!

So that being said, because I wanted this little corner to be about healing, I’ll still set something up there; it just won’t be this previous plan. I deeply apologize to those who may have been offended. 

2 thoughts on “Inappropriate Appropriation

  1. Hannah Phillips January 29, 2024 / 8:21 am

    > I guess I mistakenly thought I was “different.”

    A lot of us thought that, don’t feel bad. 🙂

    • Ayin Es January 29, 2024 / 8:31 am

      Thanks love. I’ll try. 😉

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