This week I’ve been thinking pretty deeply about a few things due to a long Easter break with whānau at a waiata wānanga and also because of work. The whānau stuff threw me off as I was expecting it to be tikanga heavy with a lot of waiata tawhito (older songs) but ended up being very much faith-based with a lot of hīmene and a few mōteatea. Dad and I had a rather direct conversation about faith vs. culture which I’m still thinking about. Work has been throwing me off as I’ve been thinking about the insertion of taonga into a space that is very much about the Pākehā historical art canon (you may have seen my thought vomit on twitter).
Thinking about identity is a constant negotiation, it is a highly personal, oftentimes difficult process. What I think now will inevitably change but I’m always up to debate the meanings with people. With that in mind…
1. On a menstruation mission
Mate wahine. Growing up, I remember mum was always rather open about periods but not in an encouraging, fluffy way, more in a ‘get on with it’ kind of way. I also went to an all-girls high school and surprisingly, given most students had them, periods were never talked about openly. This stigma lingered into my early twenties which is fucked up. I’ve always been really open with both my kids about periods and intend to continue being open with them. This interview with Precious Clark appeared in one of my feeds today and it was great to read about the pre-contact understandings of mate wahine and the power it signified.
2. Contemporary Feminisms panels
These panels were hosted by the City Gallery in conjunction with their Cindy Sherman exhibition and are now archived on the Radio New Zealand website in posterity. Nina has already written about them here but a friend recently had the misfortune of suggesting I listen to them in which I replied with a whole bunch of reasons why I found them underwhelming, to paraphrase:
“I went along with two other Māori women and they felt the same: excluded/an afterthought. I asked a question but they ran out of time for answering it: "in response to the 'noting absences and asking why' comment from Ngahuia, it was interesting to see her asked about Māori political representation. If feminism is to be intersectional, that question should be asked of all people. Onus should be on all. So, I'd like the other panelists to talk about ways in which non-minorities should address the 'why' of the absences." Increasingly, I find feminism insufficient and draw strength from Mana Wahine. I identify primarily as Māori and the oppression I experience primarily comes from being Māori. Feminism helps me to a point, and then it abandons me when race is involved. These thoughts are constantly being processed and evaluated though.”
3. The Heart of Whiteness
This was a really hard read and would’ve been unimaginably harder to write but huge props to Ijeoma Oluo for writing what will be the last piece I read about the white woman, Rachel Dolezal. Her ability to deny that she’s accessing a white privilege not afforded to the culture she fetishizes is galling. There is fire in this writing and I love it:
“Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn't center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen.”
4. Home / not-home
An interesting read from Stella Duffy about her impending return to New Zealand for a whole host of engagements (including the Museums Aotearoa conference). I’ve often thought about what life would’ve been like if we’d stayed in the UK when I got pregnant and know that I could only ever have brought my kids up in Aotearoa where they get to be immersed in their Māori and Pākehā cultures. Reading about the confusion Stella feels about returning was really insightful. The home we have in our minds is so textured by our memories and people who may no longer be with us, does it really exist?
Also, there's been a lot of blood quantum weird shit going on with DNA testing lately and I found the latest Another Round podcast to be a really interesting perspective. The ensuing twitter conversations about light-skinned black people was also enlightening (oh hell, totally unintended pun).
5. Artist to cheesemonger
On an entirely different tangent is this woman’s decision to become a cheesemonger, surely a dream job for us all. Given how much cheese I ate this afternoon at a workmates farewell, I can believe how much I’d love the cheese life if I weren’t in the GLAM.
With cheese in mind:
Also, Rachel Dolezal gets a shout out here: