I was invited to be a panelist on TVO’s flagship current affairs program called The Agenda with Steve Paikin.

I was on a panel with Sadaf Ahsan a web editor with The National Post, Shaine Jackson, a native artist from B.C. and Andrew Cohen a professor of journalism at Carleton University and a fellow author named Diana Fitzgerald Brydon.

We were discussing Cultural Appropriation. It’s been in the news a lot lately, and it was a very interesting discussion.

Last night my husband and I watched and at the end he said something interesting. He said there was no consensus.

And I thought, of course not. It’s a discussion. And he said well what’s the point in that?

So what is the point in discussing something openly like this?

I told Steve at the end of the piece, that it was really great how balanced the show had been. I was referring to timing. He was fastidious about making sure each of us had a chance to express ourselves.

I’m often conscious of how discussions can become ‘free for all’s and the points go to the loudest and they’ll hog the time, but this was quite civil.

I think he misunderstood me though because he said that it was because they had such good producers who’d vetted the guests for balance. I left it at that.

But it got me thinking, and especially after my husband said that thing about consensus.

I’ve gotten used to open discussions. If you go to a lot of conferences with their keynote sessions they don’t even attempt to come to any sort of consensus. It’s enough to raise the issues and let people draw their own conclusions.

People come to these types of topics with their own entrenched positions and it’s very seldom that you’re going to actually change anyone’s mind.

And yet the more I thought about the topic afterwards, the more I realized that I was falling into more agreement with Andrew Cohen, the journalist professor from Carleton. He was talking about how you can’t stop artists from expressing themselves. And he’s quite right. I even said at one point that nobody’s telling artists what they can and can’t write or do.

This morning I woke up realizing that really cultural appropriation is inevitable.

It’s been going on for a long time.

And what ethnic artists have to do is rise above it and just be better.

Not easy.

And yet it does speak well of our society that the consciousness of offending minorities has risen to the point where it’s not politically correct to appropriate other cultures. We’re sensitive to such things these days, and that is commendable.

You can watch the piece and decide for yourself.


TVO The Agenda with Steve Paikin