According to a decision by Fridays for Future, the white musician Ronja Maltzahn (28) is not allowed to perform at a demonstration in Hannover as initially planned due to her dreadlocks. The Hannover local group of the climate protection movement has canceled a performance by the artist this Friday in the city center, the group announced on its website on Wednesday.
The activists justified the cancellation with the singer’s hairstyle. Dreadlocks have become a symbol of resistance in the black civil rights movement in the United States. “So if a white person wears dreadlocks, then it is cultural appropriation because we as white people do not have to face the history or collective trauma of oppression due to our privilege,” the climate activists wrote.
Maltzahn had made the cancellation public on his social media channels. The musician reacted with concern: “We were looking forward to setting an example of peace and against discrimination with our music. It is a pity that we are excluded for external characteristics.” It is about giving a stage to cultural diversity and defending full awareness, tolerance and gender equality. “I hope our listeners get this image through our music and not the other way around,” the musician wrote.
Fridays for Future Hannover explained that it was important for the group to “give BiPoC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) space within the climate justice movement,” that they have not been given enough, but are often has asked. This must happen constantly, “because the appearance of a white person with dreadlocks on our stage for BiPoC may give the impression that this movement does not represent a safe space for them”, that is, it does not offer a protected environment without discrimination. “That’s why we decided to cancel Ronja Maltzahn.”
The activists suggested that Maltzahn cut his hair
Activists from the climate protection movement also asked the musician for an apology in the message. In a chat message to Maltzahn, the group informed him of the cancellation, but at the same time said it would be possible for him to appear if he cut his dreadlocks before Friday. This suggestion was an invasion of the artist’s privacy, which should not have happened, he later announced Fridays for Future.
[Wenn Sie aktuelle Nachrichten aus Berlin, Deutschland und der Welt live auf Ihr Handy haben wollen, empfehlen wir Ihnen unsere App, die Sie hier für Apple- und Android-Geräte herunterladen können.]
The cancellation “surprised her and also shocked her a bit,” Maltzahn told the German Press Agency. Above all, she found the speech insensitive. “I am very much in favor of us taking a close look at our society to see where there is discrimination everywhere.” But it is also important not to ignore the context.
“In fact, my inspiration for wearing dreadlocks comes from alternative circles,” said the singer. She is interested in different cultures. In her travels and stays abroad she met many people with dreadlocks. “I find it artistically beautiful, but I also found that the attitude to life that is associated with it is very suitable for my attitude to life,” she said.
Maltzahn looks forward to dialogue with Fridays for Future
So far, he has received quite different reactions due to his hair. People often associate her looks with the fact that she might be vegan or organic. Maltzahn said she hopes the public debate that has started will raise awareness about discrimination in society.
You want to keep in touch with Fridays for Future. “I don’t want this issue to degenerate into some kind of shit storm or any kind of misappropriation of this organization, any kind of discussion,” she said in an Instagram video posted Wednesday night.
“I also look forward to having more detailed and structured discussions with this organization next week. Because Fridays for Future is actually an organization that I think about a lot.” A Fridays for Future representative had already apologized in a personal conversation for the “pretty callous tone,” Maltzahn said. For that she’s grateful.
According to his music publisher Timezone Records in Osnabrück, Maltzahn makes music in the world pop genre. The 28-year-old hails from Bad Pyrmont, lives in Münster and Hannover and plays cello, guitar, ukulele and piano. He also performs with a larger folk ensemble, the Blue Bird Orchestra. “We are a colorful band, from different nationalities, we sing in different languages, in different styles and we celebrate diversity and we don’t want to discriminate against people under any circumstances,” Maltzahn said.
According to Fridays for Future, people around the world want to demonstrate for climate justice and peace during this Friday’s global climate strike, from Taiwan to Nigeria to Australia. In Germany alone, actions are planned at 240 locations. (dpa)