Do you feel that dreads are a symbol of your culture?
For my entire life I felt a kinship to African American people. When I was small, I thought it was because of my name. My original name is Djwana (D'wanna). Everytime it was called out, people were looking for the black girl. As I got older, I felt that perhaps I felt this kinship because I had seen alot of prejudice..much of it from my own family, and I knew it wasn't right. My family is from Arkansas and they called themselves words like Christian and had supposed black acquaintances who they never wanted to invite over or date their daughter. It made me angry and I didn't understand. When I was 32, I came across some pictures of my family. I had spent limited time with my great grand parents because they still lived in Arkansas and I live in Cali. Anyway, I remember them as old people and the pictures were of them with young faces and dark hair and as I looked at the photos I realized that they were not caucasian! Then, I thought back to remarks that my Great Grandma had made and I started asking questions. When I was little, I had been told "I am cutting Papaw's hair cuz they can't do our kinda hair in town", which I didn't understand. Then I remembered how my Grandma said we were "Black Dutch"..which I looked up on the internet and found to be a colloquilism for mixed race people. I asked my family questions, and after an angry fight found out that my great grand parents were mixed. No one discusses this, there is shame and denial and it makes me sad...but suddenly, my kinship made sense. I always thought my grandma's family was "tan" from working in the cotton fields...but now I realize that my great grandparents, who were born in 1900 were afraid to be their real selves and so is my grandma. I may look white ( I favor my Irish dad), but in my heart I feel very African American.