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October 11, 2020

America needs these Healing Words from Ani DiFranco.

Author's Own

As an eco-feminist, free-spirit, and lover of bohemian style, I have had to consider cultural appropriation when I shop and get dressed.

Ultimately, when I make a purchase, it’s because I have fallen in love with the item and its artistry. I make things, shop thrift stores, pick up things when I visit other countries (my gauzy nightgown from Mexico is the only thing I can stand to wear in the triple-digit heat), and I worked at Anthropologie (guilty!).

One day, one of my closest friends and I were combing the clearance room of Anthro, when we came across the coolest accessory I’ve ever seen: a cream, black, brown, and gold beaded wrap with bendy wire. We must have spent at least 30 minutes playing with it. We turned it into a belt, a headwrap, a purse accessory—it was massively marked down to 20 bucks and I had to have it. My sweet friend loved it so much on me that she bought it for me. So, now it holds sentimental value as well.

A few weeks later, I was in a departmental store shopping with my mom and sister. I had taken to wearing it as a headwrap because I loved it so much on the head—it felt like punctuation on an outfit.

As I was browsing, a black couple was approaching the door and walked past me. This beautiful, statuesque black woman looked at me and said, “I love your headwrap” in a serious tone without one iota of girlish joy that women often have when they gush while complimenting each other. I looked into her eyes in a contemplative manner and said, “Thank You,” humbly.

And with that interaction, I got my answer on cultural appropriation, for it is not just the aesthetic action of putting an item on—it is how you wear it, and the disposition with which you wear it.

So much can be communicated in just a few words. She didn’t need to know my social justice education or political background. She could feel my sincerity, empathy, and compassion—and my obsession with boho fashion, upon crossing paths momentarily. I am sure there has to be a phrase for this unspoken and immediate kinship across barriers that can and should occur.

The beautifully crafted items we choose to fill our life and home with have meaning. Reflect on the pieces you utilize and how they make you feel. Know that how we personally view this item and all other attachments to it are being perceived as we make our way in the world.

I’m an American who works continually to understand and heal the soul wounds of this complex country, and I feel like this epic year needs Ani DiFranco’s poem, Grand Canyon.

Here are some of my favorite portions. Listen to the whole rendition below:

Grand Canyon

I love my country
By which I mean
I am indebted joyfully
To all the people throughout its history
Who have fought the government to make right
Where so many cunning sons and daughters
Our foremothers and forefathers
Came singing through slaughter
Came through hell and high water
So that we could stand here
And behold breathlessly the sight
How a raging river of tears
Cut a grand canyon of light

Breathe deeper that brutal burning smell
That surrounds the smoldering wreckage
That I’ve come to love so well
Yes, color me stunned and dazzled
By all the red white and blue flashing lights
In the American intersection
Where black crashed head on with white
Comes a melody
Comes a rhythm
A particular resonance
That is us and only us
Comes a screaming ambulance
A hand that you can trust
Laid steady on your chest
Working for the better good
(which is good at its best)
And too, bearing witness
Like a woman bears a child:
With all her might

Born of the greatest pain
Into a grand canyon of light

I mean, no song has gone unsung here
And this joint is strung crazy tight
And people bin raising up their voices
Since it just ain’t bin right
With all the righteous rage
And all the bitter spite
That will accompany us out
Of this long night

Yes
I love my country
By which I mean
I am indebted joyfully
To all the people throughout its history
Who have fought the government to make right
Where so many cunning sons and daughters
Our foremothers and forefathers
Came singing through slaughter
Came through hell and high water
So that we could stand here
And behold breathlessly the sight
How a raging river of tears
Is cutting a grand canyon of light

~

 

 

~

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