Written by Tenzin Dickyi
Machik Program Intern & Rising Senior at Colgate University
The 4th Machik Khabda (MK4) was a really fun one to be part of. Not only did my parents get to be part of it, but I spent the last month listening to ANU’s music and learning so much about them prior to Khabda. While the Khabda in Washington, DC was held mainly in English, I am so grateful that my parents were there to experience it. They did not speak out during the conversation because they are very shy, but afterwards my parents could not stop talking about ANU. They wanted to know if my brothers knew who ANU were and had the song GAGA stuck in their heads for days. They were in awe of the Tibetan duo making waves through music. Neither of them listen to a lot of music nor do they think about the impact of Tibetan hip hop artists from Tibet, but this Khabda got them thinking about contemporary Tibetan artists. I enjoy Khabda so much because of the way it gets Tibetans and non-Tibetans of all ages thinking and talking about Tibetan creatives in Tibet.
During this Khabda, something that I couldn’t get out of my mind is the way that hip hop culture and Tibetan culture combine to make ANU’s music and clothing brand. Growing up as a Tibetan in the United States, I have watched my culture be appropriated. Even before I knew what cultural appropriation was, I remember feeling annoyed. I noticed that some people could profit from Tibetan culture without fully understanding or crediting the meaning and history. From this experience, I also learned to be sensitive to others’ feelings based on something I may have done. During Khabda, we talked about the the word “Tigga” and its use in Tibet. Someone at the Khabda brought up how a rapper who went by the name of “Rich Chigga” changed their name to “Rich Brian” after coming to the U.S. from Indonesia. They told us about how once the rapper learned about the history of the n-word, he felt uncomfortable keeping his former name. I think this is important to remember because it is possible that ANU and other rappers in Tibet may not have full access to the meaning and context of it all. ANU is clearly influenced by Black-American creativity, through clothes or music. Figuring out the difference between cultural appreciation and appropriation is difficult, especially in this special context. It is still something that I am thinking about, beyond the conversation that occured during Khabda. I am thrilled that Khabda gave everyone a space to explore these dynamics as well as learn about these incredible creatives in Tibet!