Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Herbal gathering cancels event because of hair style

Are people taking things to extremes?

The Leeds Radical Herbalism Gathering which was due to take place this weekend on 17th & 18th February has been cancelled. The reason is because they didn't approve of two peoples hair styles.
A statement on their website states they cancelled because they couldn't handle all the responses to the banning of of two men because of their hair style. They wrote;
'We..simply do not have the capacity to finish organising the gathering whilst dealing with certain responses to our decision to decline two workshop facilitators who are white and have dreadlocks. '
The decision wasn’t supported by all the organisers but a consensus was reached it stated. The statement continued implying that people with white skin and dreadlocks are supporting white supremecy.
Is this model supporting white supremecy?
'White people being outraged at being asked to not lead a space and failing to see how this would affect people of colour is a prime example of how white supremacy plays out in our lives...
'What has come out of this process is that these conversations really need to be had... How can we decolonise the culture of herbalism?'
Comments to the decision are coming in thick and fast on Facebook with many claiming that Dreadlocks have been around for a long time in Britain. Activist Helen wrote;

Short back and sides for you m'lad
'Several Roman writers talk about Celts with what used to be called "elf-locks", to be fair they were probably different from dreadlocks in the way they were made and also I guess most white people wearing locks today are influenced by Rastafari rather than prehistoric hairstyles.'

Jon commented about Rasta culture claiming
'is only a 20th century concept, let's not forget- bases its haircare activities on a literal interpretation of a bible passage about not using a comb or cutting the hair.'
Is this cultural extremism leading to a sticky end?  Helen commented
That is very, very scary - it sounds really right wing in a deeply frightening cultural purity way. Many of us are a right muddle of ethnic backgrounds (I am Welsh, Polish/Russian (they kept muddling their borders and moving about, with some Swedish), my daughter has Italian and Jewish to add to this....I have long been suspicious of the autocracy that a safer spaces policy can become, but this actually frightening.

Zoe, a long term environmental activst wrote;
'when things feel badly out of control, sometimes people feel the need to exert whatever sort of control they can..however ridiculous the excuses and however damaging the outcome of their acts may be'
Prof Alice Roberts in her BBC documentary  What makes us Human points towards Culture being a significant thing in our evolution. So what happens when people saying that we can not share culture?
Fredrik deBoer writes a good insight on his blog;
Doesn’t a world without cultural appropriation look exactly the same as a world envisioned by white supremacists and other ultra-nationalist groups, who decry cross-cultural influence as “contamination”? How is the vision of a world without cultural appropriation meaningfully different in its conclusions than the Volkisch movement that preached cultural purity and which inspired the Nazi movement? Didn’t social liberals and leftists fight for decades precisely for the concept that other cultures have value which we should respect and emulate? How can you simultaneously pursue a world of diversity while policing strict and harshly limiting cultural borders?
Creating a better and more inclusive World has to mean stopping the fundamentalists getting into power.  If organisers are cancelling events about promoting Rosemary and Thyme because of a persons hairstyle choice,  we should be worried about what comes next.  Ban all non-Indian people from Yoga? Stop anyone making their own Hummus? How about stopping people learning foreign languages?

Undercurrents is an award winning alternative news service producing videos of people taking inspiring actions. http://www.undercurrents.org

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