Comedian rejected for shows after dreadlocks deemed ‘cultural appropriation’

MONTREAL — An aspiring Montreal comedian has been told he cannot take part in shows at a university bar because his dreadlocks are a form of cultural appropriation.

The Coop les Recoltes, a bar and solidarity co-operative at the Universite du Quebec a Montreal, confirmed on Facebook its decision to exclude Zach Poitras, who is white, because of his hairstyle. Poitras, denied a spot at the Snowflake Comedy Club and another evening of “engaged humour,” declined comment on the situation.

The bar is operated by the UQAM branch of the Public Interest Research Group, which focuses on environmental and social issues. In its Facebook statement, the co-operative says its mission is to be “a safe space, free of relationships of oppression.” It describes cultural appropriation as a form of violence.

“We will not tolerate any discrimination or harassment within our spaces,” it says. It defines cultural appropriation as when “someone from a dominant culture appropriates symbols, clothing or hairstyles that come from historically dominated cultures.”

It adds that wearing dreadlocks is “a privilege” for a white person, whereas a black person with the same hair “is going to find himself refused access to job opportunities or spaces (apartments, schools, parties, sports competitions, etc.)”

Even if the person wearing dreadlocks is not racist himself, the group adds, the chosen hairstyle “conveys racism.” It calls cultural appropriation “a form of passive oppression, a privilege to be deconstructed and in particular a manifestation of ordinary racism.”

Last summer, American actor Zac Efron was accused of cultural appropriation after posting a photo of himself with dreadlocks on social media along with the caption, “just for fun.” Canadian singer Justin Bieber faced similar criticism in 2016 when he posted photos of himself with dreadlocked blond hair.

Greg Robinson, a UQAM professor specializing in black history, compared the wearing of dreadlocks by whites to the widely denounced practice of actors wearing blackface to portray characters of colour.

“What I mean is that it is whites who dress up as blacks to make fun of them,” he said, adding that even when the intention is not mockery but embracing another culture, one has to be careful.

“It’s like the N-word,” Robinson said. “Blacks can use it among themselves, but if someone from outside uses it, even if he wants to be like blacks, among blacks, there is still an aspect that remains rooted in history.”

The Coop les Recoltes did not respond to an interview request.

Just Posted

Regulator’s report unlikely to settle Trans Mountain pipeline expansion battle

CALGARY — An environmental group that tried to widen the scope of… Continue reading

Red Deer firefighter is recovering, thanks community for support

Firefighters who help together, stick together. Red Deer firefighter medic Ben Barthel,… Continue reading

Biathlon women sweep the podium for second time

Biathlon women took top four spots in Thursday’s 10-km race

Zion’s freak injury ripples in basketball, business worlds

DURHAM, N.C. — Soon after Zion Williamson’s shoe ripped apart, Nike’s stock… Continue reading

HBC to shutter Home Outfitters brand and likely some Saks Off Fifth locations

TORONTO — Hudson’s Bay Co. is shuttering its Home Outfitters business and… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Must have wardrobe basics

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

NEB gives Trans Mountain pipeline expansion its endorsement

CALGARY — The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the… Continue reading

Abel begins diving season on brink of record for most worlds medals

MONTREAL — Jennifer Abel could make history this summer in Gwangju, South… Continue reading

On eve of return to Toronto, former Raptors star DeRozan says he’s “moved on”

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan has found closure. When the player once fondly… Continue reading

ACTRA to honour actress Jayne Eastwood who says being on set is her ‘happy place’

TORONTO — Looking back on her five decades in show business, Toronto… Continue reading

If proven, Smollett allegations could be a ‘career killer’

LOS ANGELES — Jussie Smollett is enmeshed in weekly drama on the… Continue reading

Ponoka host to Bayer Crop Science seed innovations trade show

The company held a trade show with seed crop science industry partners at the ag event centre

Gaudreau snaps goal drought to help Flames double up Islanders 4-2

CALGARY — The drought is over for Johnny Gaudreau. Gaudreau’s first goal… Continue reading

Federal government set to develop code of conduct for sport in Canada

OTTAWA — The federal government is developing a code of conduct for… Continue reading

Most Read