‘Cultural Appropriation’ Climate Protest Derailed Over Performer’s Problematic Dreadlocks

A mannequin head being used to advertise a hair dreadlock and weaving service is pictured
ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images

A climate protest in Germany was reportedly derailed on Friday over a decision to cancel a major performer’s appearance over her dreadlocks.

Around 1,400 people took to the streets in Germany on Friday as part of what was supposed to be a protest against climate change.

However, instead of focusing on environmental issues, what was apparently the talk of the event was the organisers’ cancellation of a major performer’s appearance at the event over the artist’s hairstyle.

According to a report by Bild, protesters were found mostly to be discussing the cancellation of singer Ronja Maltzahn, whose dreadlocks reportedly cost her the opportunity to perform in front of the crowd.

“White people should not wear dreadlocks as they are appropriating a part of another culture without experiencing the systematic oppression behind it,” the publication reports the organiser’s reasoning as being.

“So if a white person wears dreadlocks, then it’s cultural appropriation because we, as white people, don’t have to confront history or the collective trauma of oppression because of our privilege,” the group is also reported as saying by Der Tagesspiegel.

The decision by the organisers was largely met by derision from attendees, with even Maltzahn’s replacement, the straight-haired singer Anni Chops, lashing out at the performer’s cancellation.

“It is unacceptable,” Chops said. ” I had already thought about getting dreadlocks out of solidarity.”

Maltzahn is far from the first performer who had a public appearance cancelled over her dreadlocks.

Another white performer, comedian Zach Poitras, was also banned from participating in a number of events — this time in Montreal, Canada — over his choice of wearing dreadlocks.

Having initially been slated to attend two separate events in the city, the organisers of the events pulled the plug on Poitras after arguing his hairstyle violated the group’s discrimination rules.

“We will not tolerate any discrimination or harassment within our spaces,” the organisers reportedly said in a post.

The wearing of dreadlocks has also previously been compared to blackface by one History professor in Canada.

“It is white people who disguise themselves as blacks to make fun of them,” he said, while also noting that even if the intention was not to mock, white people should still be careful.

However, in the case of Maltzahn, the organisers of the climate protest did extend an olive branch to the singer before the Friday rally, saying that she would be allowed to attend the event on the condition that she cut off her dreadlocks.

The offer was subsequently rolled back by the group as an invasion of the singer’s privacy.


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