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Article Critique: "White People and Dreadlocks: A Problematic Union"

So, I found this article on the internet about cultural appropriation and dreadlocks. It was the least negative of them out there with the most thought out opinion. A huge problem with what is said is the bit about Rastafarians; because as we all know, Rastafarians are not the only culture/religion that have been known to have dreadlocks. I just wanted to get an idea of what others thought about this since is was well thought out. I italicized and colored what hit me the hardest because I experienced some hard core white shame when I read it. 

By the way here is the article at it's original location in case you want to see other things this person has written:


I have several white friends who have or had dreadlocks and we've gotten in many arguments about their hair.  I tell them I don't think white people should have dreads and that it's cultural appropriation.  They say they respect and embrace the cultural roots of dreadlocks; that it's appreciation, not appropriation.  As much as I like my friends, they're wrong. 

The only white people who should even in the least be permitted to sport locks are white Rastafarians.  To me, that seems to be a contradiction in terms anyway which I'm not going to deal with here, but since I'm guessing 98% of white people with dreads don't identify as Rastafarian, then it's safe to say that in general white people shouldn't have dreads.  I don't care about your reasons behind it - get some scissors and cut 'em off.  Please. 

Several years ago when I was even more naive than I am now, I seriously considered getting dreadlocks.  I thought it was cool and counterculture-ish (yes, I was trying to assimilate into that counterculture uniform).  I didn't have a full grasp on the significance of dreadlocks, but I figured since I meant well then it was ok.  Luckily, someone wiser than I pulled me aside and informed me that it was a bad idea.  As a result, I still got a curly, poofy mop that at least pisses off no one else but me.

Though it should seem clear enough that white people + dreadlocks = cultural appropriation, a lot of white people don't get it.  (Surprise, surprise!)  The best way I've found to explain it to them is to remind them that they're white.  Dreadlocks are not devoid of meaning.  By a white person wearing them they are taking on or displaying a symbol that is expressive of a racial pride or a stand against oppression or other meaning that does not pertain to white people.  It doesn't matter what meaning a white person gives their own dreadlocks, dreadlocks already come with meanings that do not pertain to, nor belong on, a white person's head.

The bottom line is that white people can cut off their dreads and recover all the privileges that might have been deferred because of their hairstyle.  It doesn't work like that for anyone else.  I feel like dreadlocks to a degree is just a way of flaunting white privilege - you might as well walk around with a sign saying, "Look what I can do!  I can adopt your culture and still have white privilege!  I can cut them off and get even more white privilege!"  While certainly it's not intended that maliciously, I imagine for many people of color that's the message that comes across.

Since we're talking about hair, the same goes for the "Mohawk."  Actually, what inspired me to write this was a short piece I just read about "Mohawks."  Other concise info on dreads and "Mohawks" can be found here. Those of you white folks with dreads or who have friends with dreads, keep this in mind.  It's not an attack on anyone individually; it's just the way things are. 

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the articles idiotic

1st off rastafarians have only existed since the 60sand 70s

dreads  hundreds of thousands of years before that

arabbs  caucasians  africans indians (and native americans) all were known to dread cultural appopriation when they are a part of every culture thrre is?

this is racisnm cklaiming only 1 race has a right to anything wether its jobs  freedoms or a hairstyle


white rastas are not a contradiction at all in fact one of the basic principles of the rastafarian movement is that the coloir of a mands skin should hold no meaning  no more importance then the color of the eyes  thats 1 thing the author of the article doesnt all is that by making it all about race your keeping the racism alive  why is it about race and not personality ..spirituality social status this is as bad as saying gay men shouldnt be alowed to wear pants cayuse straight men wear pants

its ihgnorant it exposes a hatred within the writter and it does nothing to forseter a understandinmg and relatability between peoples of diferent cultures


do you think sadhus go aroujd saying rastas dont desserve to dread? they have dresded  centuries longer then rastas existed


this guys grossly missinformed


I have red this one before. First what is "white" culture? And what is "black" culture? America is not the only country in the world with "white" and "black" people. Skin pigmentation does not determine if your ancestors where oppressed or not.  So much ignorance in this article. I would like to ask this person ( I asked this question before on this forum) I am from Scottish English Native American French and Norse decent...what is my culture? According to this person am I force to look like all the other "normal" "white" Americans because of my skin pigmentation?  


I have gotten some flak from people saying that I "shouldn't" be growing dreads and that it's cultural appropriation. My response was that they have been around for centuries not just blacks and (what I'm assuming their criticisms are based on) rastas. But I wasn't given much of a chance to argue. I felt bulldozed and told that I was appropriating another culture. I felt lost and incurred some white shame when I did some more research. Especially this part: "The bottom line is that white people can cut off their dreads and recover all the privileges that might have been deferred because of their hairstyle." I'm still passionate about my journey. There was some conflicting views before, I felt like this was right for me, what I wanted to do, but people were telling me that it was wrong. Thanks for the responses.

Especially this part: "The bottom line is that white people can cut off their dreads and recover all the privileges that might have been deferred because of their hairstyle."

A very bias opinion. 

what he calls priveledges others nmight call burdons and not want anyway


SE, some may call your last comment borderline saintly and others may think about it some more and call it arrogance. It's deep, either way. Worthy of consideration and meditation at least.

I will say this though; every culture's history has it's own evil moral baggage and nasty assed skeletons they want to forget or even pay people to censor out of history books. No matter what your color, tribe, ethnicity, or other EXclusive and not INclusive way you want to segregate humanity into groups this is true. We all have crap in the past that haunts us, embarasses us, and others try to hold over on us. I think it's up to individuals and the parents of today to teach their children how to avoid the attitudes of the past.

Now I want to see some hispanic dreads for a little flavor. come on! Where are you??? Let's really piss that ethnocentric bastard of an author off.

First of all the use of the word "privileges" is very subjective. We each view privilege in our own way depending on our past experiences. Just like SE stated, it depends on who you ask. 

Secondly, setting aside the semantics, locking of the hair is a natural occurrence. No one can "own" a natural occurrence. It belongs to the nature of things. If you do not brush or comb your hair, your hair will lock and you will have dreadlocks. A brush or comb is not a natural occurrence. We were not born with a brush or comb in our hand so as to not offend another human being. Thinking about it in this practical sense makes this article sound embarrassingly naive. 

I highly recommend reading the comments on that guy's blog post. Some of it is HILARIOUS!!  This obviously pushed a lot of people's buttons... and brought up some very good points about what hair styles mean in the USA compared to other countries.

A few people commented in the positive regarding non-Africans wearing dreads eventhough they don't like the hairstyle itself. Intriguing. An 'anarchist' trying to segregate people and tell them how they should look: Fail.


Kathleen: "A brush or comb is not a natural occurrence. We were not born with a brush or comb in our hand." 

Uh... yeah. We kinda were. It's called eight fingers. Or at least that's what I called mine when I tossed my hair brush out a while back. Then I bought a wide toothed pick and noticed damage to my hair. Coincidence? No. Our fingers are much more gentle with our hair than man-made objects like plastic or carved wood or shell. But we can still comb our hair with our fingers. It's a choice to keep our hair tangled and not smooth it out.

Hahaha......funny! See....that's subjective too. Using 8 fingers to finger through my naturally curly thick hair, that used to require a full cup of conditioner on wet hair and 15 minutes of "brushing" with a brush, would have been as hilarious as this article. If all I had to use was 8 fingers to "smooth" out my hair the only affect I would make would be to separate it, and it would still lock into the sections I separated. : ) So, it's not really a choice, if your hair has a different agenda.

.... which is why after a few years I gave up using my eight-fingered-comb. It's insane!!!!! Tell Scottish/Irish curls to behave and they laugh at you and then knot up even more just to make your day that much more difficult.I totally understand, Kathleen.

That's it. I declare that the first dreadheads must have been all the curlyhaired people in the world. We own the rights to it. All you straight haired folks are wannabees. You fakers! We started it. You're appropriating our intellectual property and we demand recompense.


Lol!!! : )


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