Re: Snappy comebacks to clients who want to teach you henna

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Posted by Maureen on August 23, 2002 at 21:49:39:

In reply to: Snappy comebacks to clients who want to teach you henna posted by Kenzi on August 23, 2002 at 15:24:57:

This is interesting and it is actually helpful to see yourself on
both sides of this. Last year I saw a group of nonAfrican Americans
doing a piece with and about Kwanzaa. I felt a lot of things all at
the same time. I approached to get a sense of what they were doing
out of curiosity and amazement. In someways I was totally offended
that they were even talking about the K word and I was convinced they
knew nothing about it. When they appeared to indeed have done their
homework, I found myself wondering just why they were even doing it.
It was something like proprietorship I think that I was feeling. And
then something like stewardship in my need to make sure that they at
least know what they were talking about. And then, there was an urge
that I controlled that wanted me to let them know that there was
someone present that knew about this Kwanzaa thing and so they had
better not mess up...LOL!!! And I think that perhaps that urge is
not always controlled by people.

It is a bunch of very strange stuff that I think a person feels when
they see someone doing some "thing" that they themselves have come to
believe is their own "thing"...belongs to "them and their culture and
their people" or however they own it or claim it. And one of the
raps about Americans is that we take a little bit of this and a
little bit of that and a little bit of the other from cultures and
people all over the world and don't give any credit to where we got
stuff from. That is a generalization but there is some reality to
it. And it is possible that we a person from another country or
culture sees an American doing something that they relate to
culturally, that they just might wonder if it has been
appropriated...or borrowed. If it is being totally bastardized or
being held true to form and tradition.

So what I am saying is that some of what is brought to you at that
moment in the form of a question is far more than that question and
it may be well worth contemplating a response or way to engage other
than a snappy comeback. Perhaps if you could, put yourself mentally
and emotionally into a situation wherein you "feel" and/or "think"
that someone has or is usurping something that you believe to be your
territory...culturally yours...your birthright...etc. Whether it is
true or not...lets just say that you believe it to be so. And you
engage this person in a conversation is some way about what you know
about the subject. What would you want or need back from that
person? That. I think, is the key to the comeback that the person
may be coming for.

Sometimes a simply acknowledgement that the person before you carries
some information can stop their need for offering you that
information or trying to prove to you that they have it. I think of
when speaking before an audience and one recognizes in the audience a
colleague or expert in the field and subject that they are about to
speak on. The thing one does is to immediately recognize and point
out the presence of that person in the recognize and
point out that their "esteemed colleague" is indeed in the house says
a lot about the colleague in the house but also says a lot about the
person on the podium. If I call myself knowing something about a
subject, but I don't know enough to recognize and identify someone in
my presence who is an expert or and "also what ever I am" then it
puts into question what I know.

I would not be sure if someone saying that washing henna paste off
with water makes the stain darker is saying something silly out of
ignorance or as a test of what I know.

This is a situation that appears to me to be an opportunity for
linkages to be made...and opportunity for inclusion and sharing and
explanation. Because there are questions about why that I think
never get asked...and therefore never get answered.

Hope that made sense...



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