Whenever I meet someone who knows nothing about me, they eventually get around to asking me the same question: “Why dreads?” I usually don’t give my real answer because it takes too long and people end up just staring at me like I’m crazy. Well this is my blog so I’m allowed to seem a little crazy so here’s the real answer and it ain’t “so I can shake ’em”. There are three things that my hair stands for, one is my origins as an african male, the second is my Deist(will explain) belief in God and respect for other cultures, and the third is my deep respect for love.
Part 1 African Origins-
The Dreadlock hairstyle is one of the oldest hairstyles in existence. The first evidence of Dreadlocks originates from Africa, Egypt to be precise. Egyptians have drawings depicting people with Dreadlocks, and there have even been mummies exhumed that show evidence of this hairstyle. Different tribes in Africa have utilized this hairstyle for different reason. For example the Maasi tribe’s warriors are famous for their long red dyed Locs. Other tribes in west africa view it as a very spiritual hairstyle as it is worn by their priests. The Mau Mau, a largely ethnic Kikuyu rebel group in Kenya fighting to overthrow their colonial British oppressors from 1952–1960, hid for many years in the forests, during which time their hair grew into long locks. The images of their rebellion, then broadcast around the world, are said to have inspired Jamaican Rastafari to wear locks. When I look at my locks I see the proud history of my people fighting oppression. This is not political, it is historical. I have never thought having a love for your own history was political.
Part 2- Religious beliefs and culture.
In Jamaica the wearers of this hairstyle were said to live a “dread” life or a life in which he feared God, which gave birth to the modern name ‘dreadlocks’ for this ancient style. A deist is primarily someone who believes in a higher power but does not fully believe in a direct link. For example I am a Christian but I do not believe God will fix your problems. To be simple I believe that he enacted Karma and left us to ourselves. It would explain the sharp drop in Prophets and people talking to God but that’s another blog for another day. I pay close attention to the term that Rastafarians use in this instance (though I am not a member of this religion). I respect all the different cultures in the world and i believe that inspiration can be drawn from all of them. My hair reflects this love of cultures far and near. To fear God has always been in my mind, like the old Machiavelli question “should a leader be loved or feared.” Yet I am told to do both when it comes to God. How could one love that which he fears? Its simple when you learn to that to fear simply means respect the power. The man can flood the world whenever he wants so give him the respect he deserves. My Dreadlocks reflect this respect and constantly remind me to check myself and make sure I’m going down the right path.
When I was deciding on whether or not to get this hairstyle, I did a lot of research that encompassed many different decades, people, and cultures. Doing this research I found a lot of stories about historical figures that had Locs. One that still stands out to me in my mind was the indian story of Shiva and Kali. Kali would go into battle and once blood was spilt she could not stop killing. The only person who could calm her down was Shiva, her husband. Shiva is always depicted with a mass of dreadlocks on his head and the followers of Shiva wear their hair the same. During one particular battle, Kali would not come out of her battle dance. People were dying left and right needlessly. Shiva came down, putting himself in harm’s way, and covered Kali with his dreads and calmed her down because when she saw that she was putting the one she loved in danger she was able to snap out of it. TO me this represents the truest form of love breaking through barriers. Anybody who has ever been in a fight can attest to the fact that the rest of the world gets tuned out. For a God trapped in a blood lust dance it must have been worse than that. Love broke clean through that barrier and every time I look at my Locs I see the love for not only another person but the love for the world that would allow a man to sacrifice himself to help the one he loves and the people of this world. Love is the most powerful force in the world that I have ever seen. Love makes a man jump from the subway platform onto the train tracks to save a strangers life, love makes a Sister give up a kidney for her brother, love makes that military man or woman put on that uniform and go into that fire fight. Dreadlocks to me represent this love as Shiva had for Kali.
Finally My only gripe with the hairstyle isn’t even with the hairstyle, it is in the publics view OF the hairstyle. When I go out for a job I can tell they look at me differently than when I had a short cut. Unfairly a stereotype has been thrust onto one of the oldest hairstyles in existence. Granted not everyone is thinking all of these things when they choose this hairstyle. Some do indeed only want the ability to shake their heads and let their hair cascade to their favorite song in the club. However I believe that in 2012 we need to move forward out of trying to put everything in a box. Why have we not yet learned that some things can not be defined? Scientists don’t even have a precise reason as to why we sleep, yet we try to say all people have this hairstyle for the same reason. Why is it that a historically black college bans their students from having the hairstyle that is native to their people? I am completely unwilling to accept societies ignorance even when it is thrust upon me by my own people.
This Hairstyle to me represents many things, but in the end it is the perfect representation of what drives me. My determination, creativity, my dreams, this is why I am still here. Sitting on my computer messing with my hair, typing, creating characters and seeing these amazing worlds I create in my head. That’s where I find happiness. My hair makes me happy, does yours?