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US: license to braid

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Tragen gern Dutch Braids: weiße Frauen wie Model Clair Westenberg (im Bild) oder die Frontfrau der Band Jennifer Rostock. © Timur Emek / Getty Images like to wear Dutch braids: white women like model Clair Westenberg (pictured) or the front woman of the band Jennifer Rostock.

Many white women wear Dutch braids and other African hairstyles. But isn't it racist to make you black?

Sometimes it would be good if there were copyright on hairstyles. Then, in case of doubt, one could ask the person who holds the rights to a certain hairstyle whether wearing it is okay in this or that context - or that would be the end of it. But hairstyles cannot be protected, especially not if they are assigned to an ethnic group. So it comes to the Zoff.

When the fashion designer Marc Jacobs sent his models on the catwalk with colorful dreadlocks at the Fashion Week in New York in September, the African-American community protested. Comprehensible, because the models at the show were almost all white.

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Also in September, an appeals court in Alabama ruled that wearing dreadlocks at work could be grounds for dismissal. In other words, black people in the US have to cut their dreadlocks to make money, while Marc Jacobs decorates white models with dreadlocks in a luxurious celebration of exoticism.

Such discussions about racism, structural disadvantage and cultural appropriation have long been a matter for the United States. What is new is that they are also managed in Germany. Like in December in Berlin. The lifestyle magazine Indie in cooperation with the Berlin activist group White Guilt Clean Up (roughly: anti-racist service for guilty whites) invited to a panel discussion in Kreuzberg. It should be about African hair tradition in Germany.

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was preceded by a hair braid party that had only been announced by the Indie magazine and had been canceled after protests. With her, a white hair stylist Indie readers should weave cornrows, bantu knots and Dutch braids - those African hairstyles in which the hairs are artistically arranged, knotted or twisted into compact rolls in different ways.

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The discussion, conducted in English, was basically the follow-up to the burst event. It did not stop at the conclusion that this would only have been in order if the booked hair stylist had been black. No, the consensus between the partly African-American activists living in Berlin was on the podium: it is fundamentally racist if white people wear African hairstyles.

The demand: Whites have to stop, and if you meet a white man with such a hairstyle, then you - or she - should be questioned. The approximately 150 people in the audience, in equal parts black and white, Germans and expats, had no concerns, for them the discussion was absolutely imperative.

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So the next time you meet singer Jennifer Rostock on the street, you know what to do: tell her in the face that her blonde Dutch Braids are racist! Dutch braids are those braids that are braided from front to back along the middle parting of the scalp and are often reinforced with artificial hair. Female boxers like to wear this hairstyle, most recently it was popularized by women from the Kardashian clan. Jennifer Rostock wears the hairstyle in her "Hengstin" video, which has been clicked on YouTube 3.7 million times.

However, the discussion with Rostock, whose real name is Jennifer Weist, is likely to be hairy - if she claims that she had her hair done at Cocoon, the Berlin Afrohair institution that operates three shops in Schöneberg and Mitte, and whose managing director Melion Abraha comes from Eritrea. It couldn't be more authentic. Wouldn't you have said Jennifer Weist there if it were racist that she wanted such a hairstyle?

The dictatorship of hairstyle

Yes, some expats in Berlin who are politicized by the Black Lives Matter movement and the discussions about "Cultural Appropriation" seem to think that discussions from the USA are one on one Let Germany transfer. But if you ask, for example, Abrehet Ghebreghiorghis, the manager of the braiding studio Magic Style in Leingarten near Heilbronn, what she thinks of such discussions, she shows little understanding: "I don't prescribe to anyone what hair he has to wear. That would be dictatorial! "

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Ghebreghiorghis is half Eritrean, half Ethiopian, she came to West Germany 36 years ago as a refugee. She is one of many African-German hair weavers who do not separate their customers into those who are culturally justified and those who are not, and who may even understand their skills as a contribution to intercultural communication.

For a few months now, Ghebreghiorghis has had an increasing demand for Dutch braids à la Kim Kardashian in her atelier, which she has been running for 19 years, especially from German or Northern European, or at least white-skinned young people. She sees no problem in it: "You should be happy when you can exchange ideas, and why not about cultural achievements such as hairstyles?"

In fact, it is difficult to imagine a more culturally educational situation than this: You order the Kim Kardashian hairstyle from an Afrohair shop, and the braider says: "Oh, we used to wear it as children in Ethiopia and Eritrea . " Such situations would no longer occur if white people were to be driven out of African braided hair. Ghebreghiorghis sighs: "Oh, I'm really sorry for the Americans."

It would be nice to deal with the topic in a more relaxed manner. The Hamburg singer Ace Tee also stands for that, who is watching the video for her celebrated debut single "Are you down?" causes a sensation. That a pop singer comes from Hamburg, who appears optically and musically like a retreat of the nineties R&B stars Aaliyah and TLC - nobody would have expected that, especially not in the USA.

Ace Tee, whose real name is Tarin Wilda and grew up in Hamburg-Jenfeld as the daughter of Ghanaian parents, has just given the American Vogue an interview. In it she says it's about inclusion and diversity: "My video shows people of all ethnicities and backgrounds. I say: look here, we are one, we can all wear the same hairstyles and clothes."

There is no question that Ace Tee looks incredibly cool with her hairstyle, the Bantu Knots. Whoever sees their video actually wants to have such curly hair on their heads right away. So it is quite possible that soon not only black R&B fans will flock to the German wicker shops. The shops will be happy. But what will the anti-racist activists in Kreuzberg say?

License to braid .
© Timur Emek / Getty Images like to wear Dutch braids: white women like model Clair Westenberg (pictured) or the front woman of the band Jennifer Rostock. Many white women wear Dutch braids and other African hairstyles. But isn't it racist to make you black? Sometimes it would be good if there were copyright on hairstyles.

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