Complaint about dreadlocks: the Swiss dialect ensemble cancels the concert

– Already in March, white musician Ronja Maltzahn was accused of cultural appropriation by representatives of the “Fridays for Future” movement. Due to her felt curls, she was not allowed to play at the climate movement demonstration. A similar case is now the subject of public debate; concert canceled in Switzerland: white musicians play reggae

Nearly 1,400 Instagram followers, four-digit clicks on YouTube video platform. The Swiss band should be known only to a select few as “summer”. The group of five from Bern focuses on Swiss-German dialect singing. Sometimes the sung dialect is contained in delicate folk sounds, sometimes in rhythmic reggae. A recent event may have given the group an unwanted career boost; Music plays only a secondary role.

At a concert in the cultural bar and restaurant “Brasserie Lorraine” in the Swiss capital of Bern, two out of five musicians wore dreadlocks. Felt hairstyle closely related to the Rastafari culture. In addition, the musicians reportedly wore colorful clothes from Senegal and the Gambia. According to the organizer, some visitors felt “uncomfortable with the situation.” They accused the team of cultural appropriation. During the break, the organizers informed the musicians about the criticism from some viewers. The group then interrupted the concert.

The concept of cultural appropriation is understood as a concept that emerged, in particular, as a critique of members of a privileged group of the population who reproduce and enrich the cultural elements of an oppressed group of people. Put simply, you derive things from the culture of an oppressed section of the population without question – and you benefit from it for your own benefit. According to critics, dreadlocks and reggae music should be reserved only for indigenous Jamaicans. Anyone who wears dreadlocks as white is thus involved in cultural appropriation.

“Meet all cultures with respect”

The team responded to the incident on July 18 with an Instagram statement: “As a team, we have never been directly confronted with the issue of cultural appropriation. We treat all cultures with respect. on how we look and what we are. Basically, we think the definition and differences between inspiration and appropriation should be discussed, ”reads the Instagram post.

Frontman Dominik Plumettaz spoke via a video interview on the website of a daily newspaper in Zurich View about the charges and the situation. The band didn’t notice any complaints at first: “There was a good atmosphere when we played our first set of songs. People were happy, there was no discomfort.”

Critics “remained invisible”

During the hiatus, the operators approached the team and informed them of the audience’s complaints: “After this announcement, we felt uncomfortable and decided to stop,” says Plumettaz. Audience members who expressed complaints remained “invisible”. There was no explanatory conversation.

Plumettaz denied the accusation of cultural appropriation. According to his own statements, he himself has a black grandmother. “I have slave ancestors from Africa,” says Plumettaz. However, it doesn’t matter, said the musician, “If we were to separate influences and cultures so tightly, as a Swiss musician you could generally only make folk music, which would be quite monotonous.”

Singer fired from the show “Fridays for Future”

A few months ago, a similar event also sparked a controversial debate in Germany: in March, singer Ronja Maltzahn was to appear at a demonstration by the climate movement Fridays for Future. Because she was wearing white dreadlocks, a local climate movement group canceled the 28-year-old’s arrival. “So if the white man wears dreadlocks, it is a cultural appropriation because as white people we don’t have to deal with history or the collective trauma of oppression because of our privilege,” Fridays for Future said in a statement.

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