White HIPPIES, Cultural Appropriation and Knowledge of Self.
Ugh, let's talk about white hippies...
The origins of the so-called hippie movement is said to have been formed by groups of predominantly white middle-classed american youths following the counter-culture movement in the U.S. as a result of an opposition to the Vietnam war. These very same people then proceeded to take up space in the civil rights movement in a bid to promote non-violence towards a system that has and continues to breed violence against Black americans to this day. But I digress. The movement was then adopted by other white middle-classed youths around the world, including the descendants of this colony in so-called australia.
For a group of people that are portrayed and portray themselves as being grounded "good vibes only" "we are all one" and full of love and light, they have caused so much angst and resentment amongst some Aboriginal people, as well as Indian and Aboriginal Turtle Island folks (and basically every non-white culture). If I had a dollar for every experience I've had or heard about my family or friends horrific experiences with white hippies, I'd be able to buy my land back.
My experience with hippies has been exhausting and tedious. I have been sheltered from encounters with hippies for most of my life but now that I'm working full-time in the music and arts industry, I unfortunately regularly witness the fuckery that is hippie culture. Self-proclaimed counter-culture actually manifested as a sub-culture of australian culture. (If you're reading this from outside of australia, google byron bay).
My fathers parents are Gugu Yalanji and Yugambeh. These are two very popular regions where hippies have the luxury to check out from society, take their intergenerational wealth and occupy stolen lands and this occupation is intensified by the numerous music festivals that are held on both ancestral countries at the detriment of the surrounding ecosystem. My ancestors have developed and performed beautiful songs, dances and stories, creating elaborate and majestic ceremonial garments and taken care of country for hundreds of centuries, only to have country swarmed by intoxicated dude-bro's and soiled hippies to claim, capitalize and perform cultural practices that aren't their own.
The basis of cultural ideologies of the hippie movement is contingent on the exoticism, extraction and commercialisation of pre-colonial global Indigenous practices, none of which stems from the ethnicity or nationality of the individuals of who practice hippie culture. They rely on the beliefs, sciences and customs of Indigenous peoples to cultivate their laid back lifestyles while reaping the benefits of white supremacy and completely disregarding and even gaslighting and minimizing the experience of Indigenous peoples. The use of "Indigenous peoples" here is collectively describing countries and people who have had their lands colonized by the white supremacists such as the british empire. This is meant as a reclamation of ancestral lands and culture and is not meant to invalidate the experience individual cultural peoples.
Cultural appropriation goes beyond disrespectful festival goers wearing imitative cultural attire. Indigenous people, particularly in so-called australia and america, have been systematically removed from their lands and persecuted for practicing culture. Colonizers legislated that it was a criminal act for any Indigenous person to practice culture i.e. singing, dancing, speaking their native tongue etc. until very recently.
What I am asking hippies is why. WHYYY? Why is all your energy (and chi and chakras) focused on taking from cultures that aren't your own? Why are you not truly studying yourself and your identity by connecting with your own ancestors and ancestral lands? To the "shamans", "medicine people", "yogi's" and life coaches, how can you truly have any power in your words and "teachings" when you don't even truly know yourself? If you knew who you truly were, you wouldn't be searching for yourself in foreign lands.
If you haven't realized your privilege yet, think about the hundreds of thousands of Aboriginal babies that were literally ripped from their mothers arms, to be taken away from their culture and assimilated into so-called white society. Many Indigenous people have had their ancestors names taken, changed, bastardised and buried while non-Indigenous people have the privilege to easily access their ancestral knowledge and cultural practices. White/european history is recorded and taught to colonized and westernised societies as the default and everything else is exoticized and othered. Your white privilege extends beyond your personal beliefs and practices so I ask, why?
My knowledge of self stems from the very cells that make up who I am as a physical being. My DNA tells a story of the lands, waters, skies and people that I come from.
Nganya nyari Bindimu, ngayunah Minyangbal, Gugu Yalanji, ngeh Solomon Island Ni-Vanuatu jalgany. Ngayunah Jurangbil baygal, booning ngeh yurginy jagunnah
I am a Minyangbal Yugambeh, Gugu Yalanji, Solomon Island and Ni-Vanuatu womxn. I come from the Jurangbil river people on echidna and dingo country.
My ancestors have walked on and cared for these lands, waterways and skies since the first sunrise and my identity is rooted in the tangibility and continuing survival of my ancestral lands. For generations, I have lived on these lands, died and became these lands, and I am reborn again.
When we introduce ourselves, Indigenous, Black and POC, we are essentially introducing our ancestors, our skin. We're able to place each other through kinship systems and acknowledge each others identity. Whereas in western societies, people introduce themselves by their given name, surname and perhaps the town they were born in/raised in, limiting the connection and interaction between people to a surface level of small-talk.
We must divert this energy from cultural appropriation to knowledge of self.
For any real change in this world all white people, hippies or not, must relearn yourselves. We have ALL been victimised by colonialism. You too have been taken from your own ancestral lands and have had your true culture taken from you. You have the chance to actually be a spiritual being having a human experience.
Put down the yidaki, the sage bundle and the djembe and go learn yourself.