What Dreamers Do

My Culture Is Not Your Costume: Appalachia Edition

December 30, 2021 Carla Gover Season 1 Episode 8
What Dreamers Do
My Culture Is Not Your Costume: Appalachia Edition
Show Notes

In this episode, I take on a potentially sensitive subject: cultural insensitivity toward Appalachian people, as manifested in the musical community. This episode deals with what I see as respectful vs. insensitive ways to approach performing and participating in cultures of groups and places that are different from your culture of origin.

To lay the foundation, I discuss how I believe the music and dance of Appalachia should be performed and celebrated by all who love them, how our heritage and history have been whitewashed historically, and how it's important to acknowledge the privilege I have in being a white, able-bodied, and cis-gendered heterosexual woman.

I also discuss some of the problematic examples of "performative culture" I've seen,  including:

  • artists from elsewhere using fake accents onstage
  • stereotypical songwriting tropes with 'southern gothic' and 'poverty porn' themes
  •  writers, academics, and performers who attempt to paint Appalachia with too broad a brush or explain our culture and its problems without addressing the bigger picture and the nuances of our lived experiences. 

I also share some personal experiences about how those behaviors can sometimes feel mocking or belittling to those of us who have had to process stigma and stereotypes and/or been made to feel less than due to where we're from.  

Finally, I address the importance of having these conversations with each other, among various cultural, ethnic, and racial categories, as we all work together to dismantle the systemic oppression inherent in our society. 

Links Mentioned
Me & The Redbird River Song

Post-Roll with information about the Appalachian Flatfooting & Clogging Academy

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