So I was reading along in my Aboriginal Pre-Adoption Training materials the other day and I came across this:
"Culture is Privileged: It is important to recognise that non-Aboriginal people may not be privy to many aspects of an Aboriginal culture such as sacred and traditional teachings. They do not necessarily need to have this knowledge for themselves – although the community will ‘privilege’ the adoptive parent with the information they need to know - they only need to ensure that the Aboriginal child has meaningful relationships, support and access to the community, including family and cultural teachings. An important way to facilitate this for the child is through the development of positive relationships by the adoptive parent."
Call me terrible, colonial and ignorant but this made me really defensive. Like, wait a minute, you're telling me that my children should have relationships with random people and go off and do a bunch of stuff that is kept secret from me. Why should culture be privileged? We are all children of this world. I believe in unity. I believe in harmony. I believe in equality. Why should I be left out?
Well this seemed like a rather unhealthy train of thought so I got a cup of coffee and went to work and mulled over it for a while. It came to me later when I was thinking about the term "privileged". Privilege is something that can create distance from people but it is also something innately important to all of us. I mean, look at hipsters; I knew ________ before it was cool.
As a teenager, my friend gave me the tie that she had worn as a prefect in her private school. It was a great tie. Small, feminine and striped. I wore that tie to my public junior high school with wide-leg jeans, chains, hemp bracelets, black tank tops and bright red lipstick and purple hair (I was the very essence of high fashion). I looked rebellious. I looked alternative. I looked awesome. My outfit was showing the world that I was free and unique.
I wore some form of this outfit to a family dinner one night and my cousin said something that I will never forget. He asked me if I was an Avril Lavigne fan. Was I a what? No way! He thought that I was wearing my tie to try and emulate the singer of 's8er boi'?! I had worn the tie long before Avril came into popular culture. I was so embarrassed and upset and soon after that the tie was relegated to the back of my closet. The tie had lost it's specialness and appeal when it became trendy and everyone and their dog had one.
Now I'm not saying that my children's culture is on the same level as my choice of teenage apparel but it made me think about how hard it was to have something that was a part of my identity shared by the world. This is a small scale parable to help me remember that it is ok for my kids to be Cultural Hipsters. They need to have ownership of their culture and choose what and when to share.
P.S. Shout out to Luke (or your Dad, since I know he reads this). Thanks for asking me about Avril all those years ago!