A new TV series with the intention to dispel the myths and stereotypes around people with dreadlocks
Dreads as Community Leaders/Builders
Thank you for sharing your journey Soaring Eagle. I think we were all curious about the full extent of it past the two weeks in the woods start of the journey :>
I am not high profile by any means thank you, but I am a nationally certified & registered healthcare professional. I work in the pathology(laboratory)department at my level one trauma / open heart hospital. The most urgent and easily recognizable of my responsibilities I would say is when people need blood due to loss I am one of the Medical Scientists who finds compatible blood for transfusion.
It is kinda entertaining to my co-workers that the organization still uses my old image on some of their recruiting material & advertisements. It was a picture taken of me by their PR personnel when I first started working there, close cropped hair and all; totally unrecognizable from my long haired goateed appearance now. I do not fit any "mold" by any means, I walk my own path. Most Medical Scientists are quiet introverted bookish science types with a very conservative "Mall/J.Crew/Banana Republic" yuppie/preppy appearance . I am very verbose and outgoing, I wear organic hemp clothes and my "bling" consist of koa wood. We are highly compensated (not bragging, just stating) so this leads many, by far the majority, to be very materialistic. I on the other hand could happily live out of a bus with my surfboards on top listening to reggae and gathering fallen coconuts & mangos for food.
I am also a ten year veteran, though outside of work you would probably never guess it by merely looking at my hair, clothes and wood accessories. Outside of work I am very laid back in my life, demeanor and appearance.It would be only after spending some time interacting with me on a professional level at work that the "Affirmative (yes) Sirs" and "Negatory (no) Ma'ams" would give that away with an occasional 'OOrah.
I was frontline Naval Hospital Corpsman assigned to First Marine Division. Though I was in the Navy, I spent most of my service time assigned to the Marines. Lined up in formation with my brothers in arms, you would have been hard pressed to tell I was actually in the Navy and not a Marine. At my one "shore" command at a Naval Hospital they placed me on Military Police duty. It would crack up my Master at Arms when I would roll up to the station playing Sublime songs like "Smoke Two Joints". Yes I listen to reggae, have been since the early '90s. No I don't smoke ganja, I don't drink, I do not place any intoxicants into my body. I like keep myself clean and clear; mind, body & soul. Besides with my current line of work I need every brain cell I have.
Though most veterans, G-d Bless them, and especially Marines and their Corpsmen tend to be very conservative; I am very much an independent free thinker. I do believe in peace, and having seen the destructiveness of man first hand I despise war and the loss of life it entails. I value all life as precious and take no pleasure in the taking of life. I have also seen those that would subjugate their fellow humans, and sadly tyranny has always been in our history as a whole. We need those who would speak out and if need be take physical action to protect our safety and right to self determination. All have a voice and they should never be silenced. I pray for the ideal, yet I see the holistic reality. I firmly believe the strong were placed upon this earth to protect the weak, not exploit them.
As for my dreads I started them as a spiritual journey first and foremost. I have been on the dreadlocks journey before though I did not know it at the time. Mostly because it was only for few short months at a time and my curly hair would just get all tangled into a 'fro. When my service had ended I would go for months at a time without grooming, only washing as a cleansing and healing of wounds both mine and those in the world. It taught me the lessons of humility, the letting go of vanity and the material world and a more mindful existence.
At my old job I worked for a faith based charity hospital and they were totally understanding of my journey and the letting go of grooming. At my current job my higher ups include some ultraconservative Texans. I grew up with a Texan (my father) and I knew my ragged appearance would be an issue. So before I started my journey I let them know my reasons and that I would keep my hair as tidy, clean & out of sight as possible. In keeping with my word before I started my journey I had my hair "interlocked" to keep my crazy curly/wavy hair as neat as possible. I hated my hair after that and I saw it as a compromise on something that is at my core, my spirit. I wish I knew then what I know now. It is possible to have natural hair and be a professional. The answer is simply pulling it back and out of the way with a wide wool head band (or cotton if your fully vegan), or if more discretion or sanitary cleanliness is required like in my case a wool tam to completely cover it up (in medical terms we call the long surgical caps bouffants).
I subsequently undid most of the interlocks and found how all the twisting had weakened the strands. In the intervening months my hair became very "messy" and started to dread on it's own. Since I now had "dreads" (ha, baby dreads) I went to all the different commercial dread sites and I used all kinds of different shampoos before I wised up the hard way. I thank Soaring Eagle for this site and all the knowledge and wisdom it freely provides.
What most do not understand is choosing to have natural hair is placing yourself squarely in a minority, a hair minority. Those of us that were born into a minority recognize the similar instances of stereotypes and prejudices that we had to deal with as children. Thankfully a lot of that is rapidly receding into history and our children will be growing up in a much more open, accepting and mindful society. If you do encounter these obstacles, therule of thumb for overcoming these we knew was simply you have to earn it. We knew we would have to always work harder and do our best, be beyond reproach. Expecting to work twice as hard for half the recognition of our peers; slowly and steadily we would earn their respect and be an integral & eventually indispensable member of the team. If you are professional or have a business, it will push you to provide better service and to excel.
I have ran into a few uninformed misconceptions about dreads. Almost exclusively from family really, they are the only ones who have had the confidence to ask me about my hair in general. I have never had complete strangers approach me about my hair or make any derogatory remarks or offer to "help" me with my hair. I think a lot it is how you carry yourself. They mostly ask about my diet and exercise or the natural soaps I use.
One of the things that becomes apparent to us once we cross that barrier of vanity is how society is just riddled with insecurities. They strive so hard and place so much importance, and with it time and resources, trying to conform to societal standards for outward appearance. Meanwhile their interiors are rife with sickness, necrosis and disease from neglect, self destructive eating habits and intoxicants, and a toxic unnatural environment. I know, I see the effects first hand in my work. But what can you do? That is their freedom, if they want to poison their bodies that is their choice. Honestly I see it as protracted suicide. So what can we do? Show them a better way, a more mindful holistic way. It starts by setting an example as with truly effective leadership it begins by leading by example.
Eat and live mindfully, healthy & organically as we were intended to live.The way your body glows and radiates health and vitality will be your biggest billboard. Smile widely and broadly, try to look deeply into your fellow human beings peacefully with love in your eyes. Try and see their inner spirit, the spark of the divine that lives in all of us, all are precious in the Creator's eyes. Share with them your knowledge, enlighten them with your wisdom. Explain to them that it is not only possible for them, but also their right to be able to live as healthy, holistically and freely as they were intended to be. They think it's expensive to eat organically, but explain to them what is truly the bottom line is. Grow it yourself, or join a Co-Op or even better a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). If that can't afford that I know most small local organic farms gladly hire hands in exchange for a share in the crop and even a room if needed. It takes many hands to run a farm, even more so an organic non-pesticide one. If they say they have no time for exercise. Ask them if they have a T.V., there's their time for exercise. Turn off that electronic box spewing radiation into your living room, put down the remote & bag of Doritos filled with toxic chemical and get outside into the clean air, walk, run, swim, surf, breath deeply and be grateful we are able to enjoy this earth.
These are the lessons that my dreads and journey have thought me.