I know very few outside of The Great White North will be familiar with the CBC, the Walrus, or the recent issue surrounding cultural appropriation in literature. The backlash against insensitive cultural appropriation has spawned a backlash against the backlash, especially where the arts are concerned. If you aren't familiar with the term, educate yourself because the future of Jazz outside of New Orleans and Chicago may hang in the balance. Not due to lack of interest or enjoyment, but due to policy and well meaning people trying to right the wrongs of the past. But it's not as simple as that either. In terms of art, and music, there is a whole lot of grey and nuance about the role that working in a medium outside of your own can play. As this unfolds up here, there is a general assertion that the privileged have no right to use the cultural artifacts of the oppressed for their own entertainment. However, the understanding of what culture is and what makes a cultural artifact is open to interpretation. And so right now here in Canada we have progressive white liberals being condemned as bigots for writing stories about the underclasses on the grounds that they apparently don't know what it is like to actually live it. We have the far left and the far right unified in their protest of anything that seems to cross boundaries, anyone who isn't acting exactly like the culture they were born to... The issue at hand was a joint venture between some Canadian writers wherein the white editor made a case that representing art or literature from cultures not your own can be a way of bringing people together and that writing from a perspective that is not yours may expand your world even if it is, according to definition, cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is in essence, stealing the identity and customs of a marginalized group and using it without awareness of the significance of it to the originating culture. It has been used by assimilationists, oppressors, and the ruling elite (fat white men) to entertain themselves with the circus of their conquered. His argument was poorly worded, caused offense and an uproar and resignations, pain, backlash; and late night twitter stupidity went crazy. I bring this up because as musicians working in a worldwide medium it is something we are going to have to face. It might be easy to just come up with a simple and pat answer but I can tell you that this is not going to go away. We need to ask ourselves... What does it mean to play the music from a slave culture when we were the rulers? What does it mean to play the music of rich dead white men (which is my heritage) who may have also promoted some very regressive ideals about other human beings (especially women)? There is a tacet acknowledgement of the tension surrounding the use of hymns in a non religious setting. We have all felt it. The art and beauty in some chorales that may also grate on us because of how the words speak about the world... Am I condemned to play only Canadian Folk Songs and Orchestral music if I want to remain sensitive and avoid imposing my privilege on another culture that doesn't share my experience? Or should I to just assume that 'music is universal' and remain ignorant of what it really means when I as a (mostly) straight white cisgendered man play ska or New Orleans Brass as though somehow I own it? Eminem had the moral authority to rap because he lived the downtown Detroit life and grew up with that hanging over him... What about those of us who take up a song and haven't? Questions that I have no answers to. But questions that are in my mind as I play Jazz, Dixie, esp. Traditionals, and Latin for sure.