A friend and I have endless discussions about what transculturalism means to us, to mainstream New Zealand, to wannabes and government bodies dedicated to multiculturalism.
He is a New Zealander of Chinese origin and I am the nowhere-belonging Indian. A bunch of us recently met for, what my friend terms, a Creative Cool yum char. Not just any Creative Cools but Crasians, Creative/Crazy Asian dudes and dudettes here in Auckland who want to change and rule the world of art/creative industries. The schmoozer/arts administrator, the hip hop singer, the filmmaker, writer, actors etc etc. Asians who were studying socialist governments in South America and Asians who studied acting the Lee Strasburg way in London, doctor turned wannabe creative Asians….
All of us transcultural. Yeah I want to call myself that because I no longer feel weird for being alone with the idea. Neither here in Auckland or in Bombay, India. Transcultural; taking from one culture, many cultures, losing something, evolving something and then making your own new something. It does not have to be creative either. Just a way of life. And you don’t even realise it because it is such an unconscious part of your existence. Way beyond multiculturalism as defined by the Labour government here. Not a deliberate attempt to bring people together culturally. Y’know the usual food, clothes and dance…and then we all go home until next year. All controlled expression of how the ethnics should be. And subsequently subservient for ‘allowing’ us our space. Bless your kind heartedness 🙂
Not here, not in the streets of Auckland. Or amongst the Crasians. This is natural, smooth, complex. First self selecting and then a habit. Very trendy until it becomes common and everyone jumps on to the bandwagon dahlings!
At the bottom of Anzac Avenue in downtown Auckland is the Hulu Cat Tea House. Retro European decor-cream walls, plump cream leather couches to sink in, little cream stools…and pictures of cats all over the place. The crowd is young, mostly East Asian, playing cards, hanging out and obviously noisy. The pearl tea is served in tall beer glasses with hip hop music playing in the background. Transcultural?
The (East) Asian fashion shops all over downtown Auckland store cutting edge fashion including the Kiwi take on Japanese lollipop. Just bought a pair of red lace-up boots from one of the shops (yeah yeah, naughty:-D). Transcultural?
If clothing is media and arts then ISBIM is even more local than these shops. High end urban and street fashion owned, designed and made in Aotearoa by my Korean friend Joshua who is also a music producer and singer. His music sells mostly in Japan with Korean, English and Japanese lyrics and produced in Aotearoa. Transcultural? The dude would not bother with the word. He just knows this is his way.
It is happening all over the world. If Asian underground music is now mainstream then it took a long time to get there and was not pushed by political agendas of governments. That just made ghettos and made the patriarchs more powerful. MIA is a top notch rap artist of Sri Lankan origin. It was her politics that made her not any government agencies. Then she would probably be doing her Sri Lankan exotic thing at some festival for the ethnics. Anyway what she says is too radical for hush-hush, tread-on-eggshells but pat-us-on-our-backs-for-the-good-we-do suits on taxpayer money.
It is essential to create awareness and push for visibility and equality. Many times government legislation is needed. But when in a democracy ‘official multiculturalism’ begins to stagnate, does not evolve or perpetuates mediocrity and patriarchy within ghettos then one has to question whether such policies are the means to an end or the end product itself. Of course this argument might elicit the usual response of selling out from the PC liberals but it is not me alone or just my rant.
I am comfortable with my transculturalism. And I don’t have time for government types that just waste paper and taxpayer money on do-good festivals and play our-favourite-ethnics games. Just would love a lot more people to experience the same. Unafraid of losing their native culture. It is just evolution.