White People With Dreadlocks

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One of my guilty pleasures is to browse the net, looking for gorgeous pics of people with dreadlocks. I had always been exposed to people of all cultures who grew dreadlocks and I’ve never seen any problem with people wearing them, regardless of their race. So I was a bit surprised when in the process of Googling pictures and articles about dreadlocks, this blog post about how White people shouldn’t have dreadlocks popped up. Even a tad bit more surprising was the fact that the author herself was White.

I do not agree with most people who make clear-cut judgments on the personal choices of others. Someone’s personal opinion is just that – personal. In my own humble opinion, I do not think that dreadlocks is the most aesthetically pleasing look on most White people. But then again, why should it matter what I think? What is important is how the person who is wearing that hair thinks.

The author echos the opinion of this article that states that White people who wear dreadlocks and mohawks are being disrespectful to African-Americans and indigenous Americans. By doing so they are hijacking a part of these peoples’ culture and robbing it of all of its original meaning and symbolism. Ok…well that is a nice idea to put out there. But the blogger equated White people wearing dreadlocks with White people having “Pimps & Hos” parties. And that I think is a bit of a stretch.

I always like to take a situation, and try to apply the exact same scenario to different groups. Let’s pretend that we live in a world that isn’t dominated by political correctness. Let’s move the shoe to the other foot, and say that it is disrespectful for Black people to straighten their hair — therefore emulating and disrespecting White culture. On one hand, you do have a point. Black people straightening their hair en masse is pretty disrespectful…but to themselves. But that’s an entirely different conversation. Let’s also say to all the White people who take martial arts lessons, that it is disrespectful for them to do so and to wear traditional Asian clothes while fighting.

Let’s try another exercise; let’s look at hair. Human hair can range from being incredibly straight and/or thin….to incredibly kinky and/or thick. Hair of any type can be easily cut, combed, colored and styled in a variety of ways. Certain types of human hair responds better to certain styling methods than others do. However it is ultimately the choice of the individual regarding how they desire to style their hair. For example, the majority of Black women straighten their hair; in spite of the fact that it is not exactly easy to do. Many White people braid their hair; even though hair braiding is a very popular styling choice for African people and their decedents. So the bottom line is that no one race of people has a monopoly on any one type of hairstyle. Hair is simply an easily-modified part of the body that every human being has the right to treat any way that they wish.

And finally let’s look at dreadlocks themselves. Contrary to popular belief, Rastafarians did not create dreadlocks. Hindu mystics have worn their hair in dreadlocks for thousands of years. Dreadlocks will naturally form on any type of hair that  is not brushed or combed (the exception being very straight, coarse hair…like the type that many Japanese people have). While many modern-day wearers of dreads sport something called “manicured dreads” (where they are started and maintained with a deliberate process to help refine their final appearance), dreadlocking human hair is a very natural, non-invasive thing. And to say that Africans or African/Caribbean-Americans have some sort of claim on this is very myopic in my own humble opinion.

It is very disheartening to see people make statements such as these; especially so called liberals who get so hung up on culture and race that they start to loose sight of our common characteristics as humans. Even if African/Caribbean-Americans did “own” dreadlocks in some shape or form…there is absolutely nothing wrong with adopting and celebrating  different aspects of other people’s cultures. Even when it comes to something as visible and meaningful as our hair.

Real estate professional with an MBA in Marketing ~ writer and multiculturalist.
  • Shaad Wilson

    I agree with you to a degree but in the same breath I’ll say that your opinion is mighty white of you. Maybe because I’m a minorities in America I realize how hard it is to keep any part of your culture exclusively to yourselves because whites like to embrace and adopt stuff from others and then their upset when someone voices their opinion y’all get upset…but I guess. It’s America, please proceed.

    • Maddi

      The author is a black lady…

      • That I am! Thanks Maddi 🙂

    • Nicolo Cattaruzza

      why do you want to keep those things ‘exclusive’? by insisting black people do black things and white people do white things(and so on, for every ethnic group), you perpetuate the idea that one race is somehow better than the other and that the races should be kept separate – in other words, racism.

  • ChiCitySox

    This is an ignorant discussion, honestly.  Yes, some Rastafarians wear their hair in natural, free form dreadlocks as a symbol of their way of life.  And yes, in the 1950’s, the rebels of the Mau Mau Uprising developed locks while fighting the British for independence in Kenya. Ok.  The fact is, just because you are black doesn’t automatically make your locs sacred, or symbolic, or culturally appropriate, or meaningful.  No.  If you are twisting, retwisting, interlocking, extending, or otherwise maintaining the aesthetic appearance of your locs, then what “culture” are you supposed to be representing?  And if you aren’t Rastafarian, or at least somehow connected to that particular movement, then what does it matter to you personally?  What makes you different from anybody else from any other cultural background who wears their hair in locs?  The color of your skin? Please.  I can understand if a white boy walks around calling his friends “my n***a”, that is culturally inappropriate.  But the phrase “cultural appropriation” is just ignorant.  And locs do not fall into this category at all, whatsoever. Look it up, locs have been worn by nearly every culture throughout history…Maasais, Incas, Aztecs, Buddhists, Hindus, Semitics, Egyptians, Celts, Norsemen, and all of them did so centuries before the 1950’s, when society decided it was a “black thing”.   And the fact remains, very few people who wear locs in the US have any culturally significant  connection to their locs.  It is a personal journey, and everybody is entitled to that journey.

  • Jessie

    I had found those same blog posts and spent days ranting to my poor boyfriend exactly the arguments you just provided. Also, I love that you know what myopic means, I haven’t seen that word since vocab class in high school. Thank you for encouraging my faith in the human race that intelligent people who use a wide array of vocabulary exist. I’m soon to be a Caucasian with dreads and the way ice chosen to go about it is considered “fake” and “cheating” by the dreaded community since i’m starting my dreads by installing dreads that I have collected from my friends. In this day of the Internet, people like to try and turn their personal opinions into facts. The argument of “who” should be allowed to have dreads is a pointless one since they have existed since the dawn of humans on almost every ethnicity. I also feel the arguments if what makes “real” dreads is just silly. Some people believe that a hairstyle depicts who you are as a person. I say, who cares, it’s not your hair.

    • Thanks for the compliment on my vocabulary! Good luck on growing your dreads; it will be a fun time (it was for me the first time around and I’m looking forward to doing it again!)

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  • Јово Растафариии

    Did you know that long time ago trubes from all over the world had braided hair and dreadlocks? Some of the Asians did, South American… hower biggest population was in Africa. You can say that they’re part of African culuture but African WEREN’T the only race that had dreads. And pimp and hos party does not have to do anything with this topic, those people are Retarded. btw im white male with awesome dreads 🙂

  • Nicolo Cattaruzza

    very well put, shona. it’s very frustrating to hear people insist my only reason for growing my dreads must be to undermine the cultural significance of dreadlocks to black people. very few people actually ask me, most simply assume i’m ‘tryng to be black’. the very notion of certain practices or aesthetic choices being ‘black’ or ‘white’ is racist and i find it unbeleivable that people can’t see that.

    • Why thank you Nicolo – I appreciate you stopping by and commenting!