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What is Culture?

Updated: Jun 5, 2023

Culture – the practices and beliefs of a group of people--the behaviors, values, and symbols which have a historical meaning, purpose and impact passed along by communication and imitation from one generation to the next.

  1. How can we celebrate difference?

  2. Is there an ingredient in someones culture that entitles them to destroy another persons culture? or is that your ism showing?

  3. What common goals are worth working toward?

This week I have culture on my mind. Even how larger cultures can be made up of thousands more. Putin is using all of his greatest Bond villain playbook hits in his war to reclaim the ancient lands of Russia. The Ukrainian nation's resistance will be enthusiastically added to the hundreds of country to country / nation to nation conflicts where people are fighting to defend their lived culture as opposed to being forced out and murdered for a memory. Examples include; the constant Israeli encroachment on Palestinian land, the over involvement of the United States in countries in global south such as Haiti, and the institutionalized systemic oppression here inside the United States.

With the war on any person not Patriarchal, Cis or White raging daily, It's not easy to struggle across difference in an open honest evaluation of power, privilege, race, gender, weight, and ability. There has been a lot of effort and energy into creating and deepening divisions in the modern world, using these culture fires to create fragility and weaponizing fear, shredding the humanity of anyone not a White Cis and Male -- you would think we were in the 1980's. Honestly you can't build bridges with broken boards and in times when culture is threatened it will fight back for it's survival. And in the better world we seek to build it will also learn and correct behaviors and ideals that do not serve the dignity or integrity of a culture.

Keeping in mind that celebration of joy is just as deadly to division as it is to repression and oppression. So noting my favorite form of resistance, like many this morning I am hoping many of us will survive the onslaught of attack to find a brand new day. And when I think about celebrating difference I think fondly of my favorite childhood film The Wiz.

The Wiz was first created for the stage. Adapted from the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by author L. Frank Baum directed by Geoffrey Holder, musical score by Charlie Smalls, and William F. Brown. The stage production won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical.

The Movie, filmed with over 1000 people conspiring, collaborating, creating culture every day for approx 3 months. In addition to the teams of post production artists and producers who worked for months after all of whom believed in the vision of this story retold with an all Black cast. Glowing on to show that collaborative energy can become greater than the sum of all its parts.

The Wiz follows the adventures of Dorothy, a shy, twenty-four-year-old Harlem schoolteacher who finds herself magically transported to the urban fantasy Land of Oz, which resembles a dream version of New York City. Befriended by a Scarecrow, a Tin Man, and a Cowardly Lion, she travels through the city to seek an audience with the mysterious Wiz, who they say is the only one powerful enough to send her home.

The truth that I see in this tale -- that all of us are different, none of us are lacking and no one else is going to do for us what we must do for ourselves. It was captivating to experience as a child seeing people who looked like me growing into themselves, and more importantly being the captains of their own fate. With all of the turmoil let loose now what is your vision for a brand new day.

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