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  • Writer's pictureMarkdavin Obenza

Our Cultural Lanes

Do we prefer groups that perform music from their own country or culture? It's not easy selling an American group performing European Renaissance music to the Europeans—no doubt they are already well-stocked in that domain—but I hear they are quite interested in gospel choirs from America. In the same vein, I see American Early Music presenters fill their stage with European groups when there are groups of equal caliber right here in the US.

I also see this in the culinary scene. Would Din Tai Fung be as attractive if it instead had white Americans making the dumplings in the back? No doubt it would have the opposite effect. I also think of my Lumpia Fundraiser and found it interesting that so many were compelled that I was a Filipino making Filipino food lol—"is it authentic? Is it a family recipe?" I had no idea.

Perhaps we do this in the name of authenticity, especially if what we are selling is partly a cultural experience that we want to support. But there are certainly some interesting consequences of this trend, one of which is incentivizing people to stay within their our cultural 'lane' in their exploration of the arts. Needless to say I feel a little self conscious when I venture into Shapenote, Shaker, and Renaissance music.

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