Dreadlocks: The ‘alte weiße Mann’ who just won’t let go

Now that Germany has woken up to its very own dreadlocks ‘controversy’, expecting that white Germans – who have rocky, troubled, and not typical yet violent colonial past – would understand anything about cultural appropriation and anticolonial struggles is all in vain. But what’s shocking is that faces of cis-het white men dominating discourse on the topic in the German press. Makes you think, cis-het white German men just refuse to accept that they don’t have to mansplain every topic and dominate every panel and platform, accept with dignity that they cannot be experts on other people’s lived reality and when’s the right time to just vacate their platform and pass on the mic – to the person whose lived reality this is.

Twitter is filled with cis-het white men, many if not most elderly, throwing tantrums and drawing vile parallels as to if white people cannot have dreadlocks because of cultural appropriation – or rather misappropriation, then Blacks, Indigenous People of Colour (BIPoC) should give up using appliances because they are supposedly European inventions. Then there are those who have platforms in the mainstream media and therefore a vast audience and are shunning and completely disregarding the topic as another ‘left wing political correctness that is going too far’. That you as a cis-het white man are skeptical about it is to be expected. Because this is not your lived reality. Why don’t you learn to take a step back, pass on the mic and learn from the person about whom this topic is about and whose lived reality this is. It’s not that difficult, is it? I guess for a cis-het white man who has had saviour syndrome all his life and is used to being all-knowing expert on all topics and therefore mansplaining, it demands a particular perseverance not to be on the driving seat and to just sit back and listen from the people whom this is about.  

When that’s the level of discourse, then it is a challenge for anyone to make them sit down and understand the basics, let alone the nuances. Also, why must a BIPoC bear this burden and do free labour of educating you on your ignorance? Why can’t you do your own research on nuances surrounding history of racism, colonialism, loot and plunder as a result, and cultural appropriation as a consequence. How difficult it is to understand cultural appropriation without doing right by the people who’ve lived through historic wrongs and generational injustices including genocides, and loot and plunder of resources for centuries. Before you expect me to do unpaid labour of making you understand the nuances, you must know – even if it comes as a surprise to you – that this is also not my lived reality and instead of piggybacking on other people’s lived reality and generational trauma, I’d pass on the mic to and amplify voices of those whom this is about, the Black people. Now, if you cannot find any Black experts in your newsrooms you can pass the mics on to, that’s the real problem isn’t it? Ask yourselves why that is. Hint: It definitely isn’t because there aren’t enough Black experts, writers and columnists.

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