Ronja Maltzahn and the dreadlocks of cultural appropriation

Ronja Maltzahn and the dreadlocks of cultural appropriation

In Germany, a concert by Ronja Maltzahn in Hanover was cancelled because the organiser suddenly realised that she had dreadlocks, and a white person with dreadlocks is not allowed in his or her world view. That would fall under the term cultural appropriation, so the organisers said on their website even after the media frenzy, thus showing very little awareness of what cultural appropriation really is.

Take me, for example. For a good part of my life, I have been using a philosophical-magical system put together by Toltec Indians and Aztecs. What an average white gentleman would do is to suck up such a system, re-label it and re-sell it as his own product.

That is cultural appropriation and it does exist. It is dishonest and dishonourable – a bit like plagiarism, flaunting someone else’s feathers and not mentioning the sources. However sympathetic Wim Hof may be, he did not invent ice bathing, and his knowledge is simply a mishmash of Kneipp and some ancient breathing techniques from the Himalayas. I don’t know if Wim ever attributed anything to those sources, but I started reading Kneipp’s book because I do research the sources of everything and that was a learning experience for me.

The knowledge I use was not developed by white people. That’s exactly what touched me in my teens – this knowledge is so different, it’s a radically different way of approaching our reality, from the idea of a gathering point that can move. I was enormously impressed by the ingenuity and tension of the philosophy described, which is also called the magician’s explanation of reality. This was an explanation that I could grasp and that gave me a real idea of how the universe around me worked, something that the boredom machine they called ‘school’ never knew how to offer me. Learning to begin to see the golden edge of boredom – that was how Nietzsche described school, which he saw as an instrument of society for the endless cultivation of civil servants.

How come the White Universities have no competition? They have personally set that competition on fire. The enormous library of the Aztecs went up in smoke, as did the library of Alexandria. An incredibly dirty trick to put a whole continent at a disadvantage, and if people are still angry about it, that is completely understandable. So cultural appropriation and heritage do exist as a phenomenon, and honestly naming your sources of inspiration is the least anyone should and can do.

I grew up with mostly coloured heroes, Prince, KRS-One – those were my role models. But what would be a typical psyborg mistake is to start identifying as a man of colour. Pretending that I have a different skin colour because I had black role models is of course out of the question – and would only get me jeers, but it’s not fundamentally different from going around demanding that everyone else should address me differently based on my own idolatry.

This is also the case here. For how can you name the source of a hairstyle? Do you have to tattoo it on your forehead, this hairstyle started in Jamaica? By the way, I think it was the Aborigines who can lay claim to this hairstyle. But this news item is another excellent example of the psyborg disease: not being able to tell the difference between a psychological-digital layer and reality.

The problem is that everyone knows the origin of the dreadlock. It would only be cultural appropriation if the person in question gave it another name and pretended that she personally invented the dreadlock. That is cultural appropriation, and if you don’t even understand the term you shouldn’t use it, especially if you start discriminating against people with it.

It’s hard enough for people of colour to get rid of the ones who are really faking it. I can’t see who was behind this ‘decision’, but I think you’ll often find that it’s frightened white people whose fear images distort reality with nonsense that only makes it all worse.

By their shhhroom shall ye know them

M.H.H. Benders is a most recognised poet of his generation, a student of the universal mycelia,  Amanita Sage and mycophilosopher. He wrote sixteen books, the last ones at the Kaneelfabriek (Cinnamon Factory). He is currently working on ‘SHHHHHHROOM a book on mushrooms and the Microdose Bible, which is an activation plan to restore your true identity coming next year. Keep in touch!

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