This is mainly intended for my international readers, my eager hordes of international readers, but you might be seeing news stories about the guy calling for an “Appropriation Prize” in a Canadian literature publication called “Write” this week. Admittedly, it seems like somebody trots out the same ill-considered garbage opinion a hundred times a day, every day, for the last forty years, always asking us to consider it new and daring.
You might not have a very clear sense of the specific contexts and histories of cultural appropriation as it operates between the dominant white settler colonial culture of the model liberal nation state called Canada, and the peoples of the First Nations, Inuit and Metis nations who do what they can to survive it. My own ignorance in this regard is a well whose lid is only lately, barely, dislodged.
Joshua Whitehead was one of the writers whose work appeared in the issue that also carried the clear frontrunner for Worst Editorial Preface of 2017.
Josh wrote a response to the whole mess which was published on TIA House and has been doing the rounds in the last couple of days but which urgently needs broader public recognition, especially in the face of a Canadian media establishment united in constructing any objection to the appropriation prize editorial as anti-free speech purity politics.
— “ I want to tell you that all literature is political, that being apolitical is a type of politic, that any lack of the political is a politics of comfort. You are comfortable because you are blanketed by your ideologies and that literature on your bookshelf is your guarantor.”