Discover more from The Holy Loneliness Collective (english)
August 02, 2022
The other day in our kitchen:
(I wrote it all down from memory, so don't pin me down on individual words).
Till: It's a pity that my hair is too short. I'm starting to feel like getting dreadlocks.
Till: It's the appeal of the forbidden. When something is taboo for purely ideological reasons, I just feel like doing it anyway.
Jin: And of course you wouldn't care that you're trampling on the feelings of all people of color.
Till: Tell me honestly: Would it really hurt you if I had dreadlocks?
Jin: Eh... yeah!? It's a hairstyle that has been common in black communities for centuries. People have been discriminated for it in the harshest way, called unhygienic and unsophisticated. And it's just so typical - at some point white people come and think: 'That's actually quite pretty, we could do that too - but please without all the discrimination shit'. Or, like you, do it 'anyway', just to provoke and hurt. I find it really disgusting.
Till: But when you look at it from the right perspective, isn't that just resentment? No person of color is harmed when white people walk around with dreadlocks. They just think it's unfair that white people can do it without being discriminated and they can't.
Jin: I'll tell you something about 'resentment', Till! Imagine that you have to listen all your life to insults and monkey noises, that you get pulled out at every police check and that you're always the one they keep around and do every fucking drug test in the world with. Every time you apply for a job, you get screened out as soon as they see your photo. And you know you can't take that off like a hairstyle, it just stays like that your whole fucking life. And then someone comes along and says, 'Look, we've been spitting in your face for centuries, but now I'm going to borrow your hairstyle and your music for a minute. When you did that, it wasn't a real culture somehow. But when I do it, it's pretty cool.' Can you imagine how that feels?
Till: Ok, I admit, psychologically it's understandable. But the point that makes me uncomfortable is actually another one. This emphasis on group membership - isn't that pretty reactionary at its core? Don´t we want to move towards a world where skin color is something like eye color. Everybody has one, and of course it makes a difference somehow. But nobody would get the idea to measure the value of a person by it. Or even to infer from it any other qualities or abilities. But if we now say 'You can only wear this hairstyle with the right skin color', then we are moving in the opposite direction. The current trend in identity politics puts membership in an ethnic group above the individual. And that's really the narrative of the political right, which also hasn't really helped on the way towards a more peaceful and just world in the past.
Jin: If you want a more peaceful and just world, a first step would be to stop acting like an asshole and respect the feelings of your fellow human beings.
Till: Of course you are right in principle. But there are also feelings that you have to question self-critically. Like when I see my ex. Of course it feels shitty and I wish the hell on the guy. But on reflection, I have to realize that it's not a very rational feeling. It doesn't make anything better. And it's the same when you see someone with dreadlocks and you feel ridiculed and belittled. Maybe it feels painful. But instead of telling him that he shouldn't wear that hairstyle, maybe you should ask yourself if that feeling is really rationally based. I believe, as I said, that it is leading us into a world where ethnicity is once again becoming more important. And that's not where any of us want to go, is it?
Jin: You can't be serious that after everything that's happened over the centuries, you're going to say to People of Color, 'Don't be like that. You just have irrational feelings.'
Till: On that particular issue, maybe I am. I think in a world where we respect each other and take each other seriously, you have to be able to expect that much honesty. But of course much more has happened, the most terrible things, and that must also be clearly expressed and worked through, and above all it must finally stop. But we have to react to it in the right way and not with senseless taboos that don´t make anything better and actually serve the reactionaries and right-wing populists.
But Jin probably didn't even hear the last sentences anymore, because she had already stormed out of the kitchen.
What do you think? Is it okay to wear dreadlocks as a white person? Or is that at least insensitive?