Cultural appropriation

Last week, at a church activity, I saw a delightful presentation. There were about 10 young women and girls doing Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Samoan dances. That is not to say that they were Polynesian themselves: they were all of them blindingly white. But the narrator was herself Polynesian and the girls danced beautifully, with all the hip-shaking and graceful hand motions one expects in the hula or its kin.   Then there were about 5 male dancers, who were actual Polynesians, who did an impromptu couple of dances that  looked and sounded decidedly martial.   Then there were a couple of numbers with words in Hawaiian, and Hawaiian sounding music. These was then reprised in English translation: “Row, Row, Row Your Boat”. [Or, maybe, given the narration about  Polynisian navigation and the paddles which were used as props, that should have been “Row, Row, Row Your Canoe?”]. Another one in the same vein was “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.  I could practically hear fuses blowing in some of the social justice and cultural diversity types (who were not actually present). Who was appropriating from who?

 

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