White comedian Zach Poitras was banned from participating in comedy events in Montreal, Canada, after organisers claimed his dreadlock hairstyle was inappropriate.
Poitras was originally supposed to appear at two comedy nights taking place at the Coop Les Récoltes bar, located in Montreal’s famous Quartier Latin area, but was rejected by the organisers, who wrote on Facebook that his dreadlock hairstyle violated their discrimination rules, Montreal newspaper Le Devoir reports.
“We will not tolerate any discrimination or harassment within our spaces,” the organisers wrote, and added that cultural appropriation, in their view, was when “someone from a dominant culture appropriates symbols, clothing or hairstyles that come from historically dominated cultures.”
The bar, which also serves as a co-op run by the Public Interest Research Group (GRIP) of the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), argued that the comedian may not be racist himself but that his hairstyle acts as a “vehicle” for racism.
Because you'd obviously go up to Oxford at 18 years old looking forward to your first cultural appropriation lectures https://t.co/y6LBtcacOI
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 18, 2017
History professor Greg Robinson, who teaches on the subject of black immigration into Canada, compared the situation to that of “blackface”, saying: “It is white people who disguise themselves as blacks to make fun of them” — and added that even if the intent was not to mock, people should be cautious on the subject.
The case is not the first time an individual of European decent has been attacked for wearing dreadlocks. Actor Zac Efron was accused of cultural appropriation last July after releasing a picture of himself with the distinct hairstyle on Instagram.
In one case, accusations of cultural appropriation turned into violence when a black student at San Francisco State University was caught on video assaulting a male student with dreadlocks after an argument about cultural appropriation.
In 2017, there were even attempts made by left-wing activists to lobby the United Nations to make cultural appropriation “illegal.”