I want you to check this out.
The history of Stilton can be traced back to the early 18th century and although it is clear that the recipe used has changed quite dramatically over the years it remains one of the world's best known and much loved cheeses.Quintessentially English, Stilton has its own Certification Trade Mark and is an EU Protected Food Name.This means that:- it can only be produced in the three Counties of Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire- it must be made from locally produced milk that has been pasteurised before use- it can only be made in a cylindrical shape- it must be allowed to form its own coat or crust- it must never be pressed and- it must have the magical blue veins radiating from the centre of the cheese
Now you don't have to be a fan of Stilton cheese to get where I'm going with this. Stilton cheese is one of the things that the British use to mark their Britishness, and the way it's made is very carefully monitored. What this means is that
a) someone had to study how Stilton was made and decide what was unique about the process;
b) someone had to regulate that uniqueness;
c) someone had to enforce that regulation.
There are three steps to the process: research and analysis, standardization, and enforcement.
Now I'm going to argue here (as I've done before) that culture does not just happen. Well, it does, but when people who (like the British) are really mongrels, hybrid groups of people living in geographical spaces where the original cultures and inhabitants have been effectively destroyed and/or replaced, it needs a little help to keep reproducing itself. Culture changes, and can change really rapidly, in the blink of an eye -- like what is happening I write to the indigenous Junkanoo beat (which is being swallowed up by a hip-hop rhythm that is being played by too many drummers who have no real grounding or training in authentic Bahamian rhythms, owing in large part to the fact that we mistakenly believe that our culture is genetically encoded and will always reproduce itself). Europeans, who have been self-conscious for centuries, know this better than most people (the Chinese know it best), and so don't worry about the sort of nonsense that suggests that culture will take care of itself; they know quite well that it won't -- that Anglo-Saxon culture will be swallowed up by Norman culture and disappear before you now it, or that languages will die if they're not carefully watched and preserved.
So for all of those of you who believe, as too damn many of our government officials and politicians believe, that culture is a luxury that we don't need, that it is something that big people grow out of and that is really only good for keeping children from getting restless (of course we believe this, otherwise we wouldn't keep linking our cultural administration with Youth, Sports or Education), thanks very much. Because of you, because of your stubborn refusal to recognize what is important about us and define who we are, you can be sure that what plenty of what we believe to be "Bahamian" is very soon going to disappear, going to change beyond all recognition.
And no, not all change is evolution; and not all change is good. Sometimes change is colonization, assimilation, ethnocide.
Think about it when you're watching your Junkanoo this year and ask yourself whether there is anything in it that someone from 50 years ago will even recognize about our parades. Then go back and check out the definition of Stilton.