All Articles Tagged "dreadlocks"
When I heard Giuliana Rancic’s comments about Zendaya Coleman’s faux dreadlocks, the first thing I did was smell my own dreads to make sure they didn’t smell like weed…
Thankfully, they didn’t. But if they did, why should it matter?
Marijuana is either being decriminalized or legalized in cities and states across the country, and lots of folks are getting paid legitimately through the sale of Cannabis. Well, make that lots of folks outside of Black people. Although we are still getting locked up for illegal possession of it while others get rich, we apparently have more important issues to worry about – like looking more respectable.
Or as Jamilah Lemieux, the senior digital editor of Ebony.com writes:
It’s important that we understand that Rancic’s words were offensive because of the ways this stereotype, and the criminalization of weed, have harmed Black people. However, it’s also critical for us to consciously stop supporting the idea that weed smokers are bad, weed is bad, poor people who rely on government subsidies shouldn’t have it because it’s going to keep them from working hard, etc.
I understand why saying that Coleman would defend herself by name checking Ledisi, Ava DuVernay, Terry McMillian and other noteworthy Black folks who wear locs, faux and otherwise, by stating that they don’t “smell like marijuana.” However, I wouldn’t want her or anyone else to be disappointed if that assertion isn’t true.
I have some confessions to make: I have dreadlocks so long, they touch the small of my back. Most times, I pin them up into elaborate updos, and that makes it look like I have big regal crown sitting on top of my head. I am such a hair snob that I only grease my scalp with organic extra virgin olive oil and wash my locks in distilled water.
But I also eat double cheeseburgers from McDonald’s.
And because I was perm-less for nearly a decade prior to making the decision to lock my hair, I never did a big chop. Instead, I was able to skip over the stage where you look like Kyle from “Living Single” (I don’t care how cute you are in the face, it happens to everybody in that awkward growth stage) and into the stage where I had some actual length. Also, I have no desire to move to Ethiopia, although a visit would be nice.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there are all kinds of assumptions and stigmatizations around locks that go way beyond the fear of smelling like weed. When you have locks, people expect certain things from you. They want you to know about healing crystals and how to recite the Swahili alphabet on command. They also expect you to be righteous, noble and respectable at all times.
Like the time when an employer, who was a Black woman, kept giving me the Black power fist and teasing me about being a member of MOVE (a black liberation group in Philly) every time I had a question or made a statement in a meeting. Now granted, I consider myself one smart militant cookie, and there is nothing wrong with being “on the MOVE.” However, I also know a slight when I hear one. I don’t want people using my hair as an excuse to malign and dismiss both my work and my words just because they have stereotypical views of both dreadlocks and the function of Black liberation groups. And that is exactly what I told my former employer. Although she apologized profusely and claimed that she meant no harm, I was treated like a troublemaker around the office after the incident.
And it’s not just passive aggressive workplace harassment we’re talking about here. The assumptions about my hair are everywhere. Not only do we have Wendy Williams out here telling folks that natural hair isn’t red carpet ready, but we also have Anthony Mackie, in the role of Supreme Negro Apologist, advising young men to leave locks alone if they want to avoid mistreatment by law enforcement. With so many people wanting to associate negativity with the hairstyle, and many natural hairstyles in general, you can certainly understand why folks might get a bit defensive about all of this.
But when we get to the point in our defense where we are limiting the kind of people we think deserve to be associated with the hairstyle, it’s pretty safe to say that we have gone too far in trying to make our hair both respectable and acceptable to the mainstream. Because why can’t dreads be both red carpet and dime-bag ready?
According to the book Chasing Down Babylon, dreadlocks have long had different levels of significance for the Rastafarian community, and that includes showing a commitment to naturalness, as well as a desire to “generate fear in the heart of the Babylonians.” But aesthetically, dreadlocks are also a rejection of Babylon’s definition of beauty and culture.
If my dreadlocks have to make a statement, I would prefer that my hair represents a counteraction to the current European standard of beauty. But that’s if my hair has to make a statement. My actual preference is that my hair could just be seen as a reflection of my individual style and nothing more. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t want people walking down the street using my hair to make assumptions about my intelligence, my commitment to the community and social justice, and how much weed I smoke–unless they are going to front me a bag.
Don’t Be Like Giuliana Rancic: 11 Assumptions People Make About Those Who Wear Locs That Don’t Make Sense
Ever since Giuliana Rancic assumed that the faux locs Zendaya Coleman wore to the Academy Awards on Sunday made her look like “she smells like patchouli oil and weed,” people have been dragging the E! personality and “Fashion Police” host on social media. But comments like this aren’t surprising. For as far back as people have been wearing locs, others have been making some very interesting and very stupid assumptions about them. I know because I’ve been on both sides: I’ve been the loc wearer and the assuming party.
Don’t get caught out here talking like Rancic, ya’ll. Cut it out with these assumptions:
That Our Hair, And Our Bodies, Are Dirty
Unless we’re talking about the early stages of locking one’s hair, those with locs can wash their hair just as often as anyone else washes their hair. But just because you might come across a few people who wear locs and happen to look and smell a little funky doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t value a good bath and shampoo.
Tamon George is a little bit more than disappointed with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). He’s incredulous. The MBA student at the University of the District of Columbia, was accepted to attend the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) – Leadership Institute in October. Of course, George, who currently serves as the president of the Graduate Student Government Association and participates in several judicial committees governing the University, was excited about the opportunity.
Well, he was until he was informed that The Thurgood Marshall College Fund bans “dreadlocks” on male participants of the conference. “Thus, my invitation to attend the conference would be contingent upon the removal of my hair. Given that I wear my hair in the same manner as my father–serving as a representation of my cultural identity, heritage, and spirit, I feel it is highly discriminatory and sexist to make such a ruling,” writes George in a Change.org petition he started to get TMCF to lift its dreadlocks ban.
George did not attend the conference took place on November 9-13, 2014, with the aim of providing attendees with leadership training and job and internship opportunities with Fortune 500 companies.
“TMCF is not honoring the legacy of the late Justice Thurgood Marshall who stood for equality and educational advocacy,” writes George. Civil Rights advocate and lawyer Marshall was the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.
George spoke with MadameNoire about the petition.
MadameNoire.com: Why launch the petition?
Tamon George: The petition was created because of a “dreadlocks ban” that was instituted at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF). The president of the organization has claimed that regardless of intelligence, any Black male who wears dreadlocks is unemployable in a corporate arena, and therefore needs not attend the annual TMCF – Leadership Institute.
MN: The petition has 5,391 signatures to date. How many more to you need for your goal?
TG: There is no specific target amount numerically for the petition, it will stay online indefinitely. People responded very quickly, mainly because of the egregiousness nature of the ban, and of course because this ban does not represent public sentiment regarding diversity and inclusion. I believe the public was so quick to respond because of the sheer shock when hearing that an organization that was founded on the name of a great civil rights leader was involved in a ban of this nature.
MN: Any response from TMCF?
TG: TMCF has yet to release an official statement regarding the policy. [MN is reaching out to the TMCF and will update the story with any comment we receive.]
MN: Do you find it ironic that an organization of color has such a ban?
TG: It is more than ironic that TMCF would implement this policy. I did however, reach out to the son of Chief Justice Thurgood Marshall to inform him of the policy. He stated that he is unaffiliated with the organization and was not aware of the policy. He did however note that he was disappointed that this situation has occurred.
MN: What is your goal with the petition?
TG: The ultimate goal is very simple, to have the ban reversed. It is extremely disappointing that only one ethnic group has to have these types of conversations. The goal is for the individuals who implement this ban, and those who support it, to confront their unfounded fear of any Black man with a strong cultural identity.
MN: Besides the petition, what are you doing to make this happen?
TG: I will continue to do interviews and articles around this issue. I think the real change will happen when people have these conversations amongst their families, their colleagues and friends. Therefore, I simply encourage people to have a dialogue about cultural identity and conformity.
Looking to make a hair statement? There’s no better way than to ditch the product, put away the blow dryer and jump into dreadlocks. With some of Hollywood’s biggest stars proudly rocking locs, we felt it was only appropriate that we salute some of the most memorable dreadlock looks over the years.
A couple of weeks ago, we wrote about the tribute Future gave to his two babies fiancée Ciara and his new son Future. If you look closely, in the Instagram picture, you can see a sneak peek of Ciara’s hair and they look like locs. As a fellow dread head, I noticed this and quickly put it out of my mind. But yesterday, Ciara released a series of images where she’s showing off her loc extensions and personally I’m here for it but the response was mixed. Wonder if Ciara was inspired by her fiancé/baby fatha Future?
Take a look at the pics and let us know if you dig these.
The day in the life of a “dread” can be interesting to say the least. I should know.
People Are Going to Touch Your Hair
For some reason when you grow dreads, people think you no longer need your personal space. Be prepared to feel a tug or two when you’re in line at the grocery store or sitting on the bus. Yes, I can feel that. My hair is attached to my head.
It took me a long time to feel pretty again with my natural hair.
It wasn’t that I felt my natural hair was ugly – to the contrary, I loved my hair texture and I loved my newly acquired dreadlocks. However, others weren’t as certain about my new look, and that kind of bothered me.
Being perceived as attractive is that one area of going natural that most folks don’t want to talk about.
And when those discussions do arise, they are usually beat down in the “love yourself” sermons and other patronization, which some folks engage in when they want to make haste of what can be an uncomfortable topic; but this concept of self-love within natural hair deserves explanation. And while it is true, the primary motivation of any of our choices, including aesthetics, should come from a place of love of one’s self, it is also true that from very early on (some say as young as two, when children manifest self-consciousness, pride and embarrassment), we learn to see ourselves through the eyes of others. So, short of being some total self-aware zen master, it takes most of us some time to reach self-acceptance.
Like the time an associate told me that a crush thought I was cute but was hesitant because my “dreads and stuff look like I was going to have to talk about books all the time.” Or the strange guy who happened to cross paths with me on the sidewalk that decided to comment – loud enough so that I could hear – about how much he hates that “nappy hair s**t.” Or just being at the bar or lounge and noticing that the brothers were not checking for me like when I was rocking the long and silky press-n-curl. When I transitioned from getting bi-weekly press-n-curls into bi-monthly (if even that) appointments for lock retwisting, I expected to maintain my same level of familiarity with the opposite sex I had always known. But when I stopped adhering to one small aspect of the standard of beauty, suddenly, it seemed that I had become undateable – or at least invisible.
Weirder than the lack of physical attention was this newly attributed level of respect that was bestowed upon me. In one aspect, it was the celebration of the end of the endless cat-hissing, booty smacking “hey shawty, come here and let me get your number” mating dance, which was sort of the norm during the press-n-curl era. Nowadays, I am considered “sis” and “queen.” By the switch of a hairstyle, I was all of a sudden anew and virtuous. If I had to equate it to something, it would be like having a second virginity. But fun as it felt to walk around feeling righteous and superior, I didn’t want to be nobody’s “sis” (or as I always felt by extension, their mammies) no more than I wanted to be somebody’s “shawty.” In truth, I’m probably a little bit of both – and so much more other stuff. As a young woman, I wasn’t quite sure if I could handle that.
As more and more women transition, I am seeing similar stories of uncertainty over the natural head around the Internet. Sometimes the doubt is implanted by the words of boyfriends, but more disheartening is when the rejection comes by way of the husbands of these newly transitioned ladies. In fact, despite the rhetoric we see of those dudes who can recite line and verse the points to Chris Rock’s Good Hair, there are a large consortium of men, who are threatening to leave or cheat if their partner doesn’t either put a perm, or a weave, back in that nappy hair. Think I’m exaggerating? Just visit your nearest hair care forum and/or Google to read the various desperate pleas from women who need help dealing with their husbands, who just hate their natural hair.
In an essay entitled, The Reasons I Did Not Want My Wife to Be Natural, Dr. Corey Guyton bravely owns up to his fears of his wife’s transition. He cited his rejection of her TWA (teeny weenie Afro) as a matter of his own insecurity and being blinded by Eurocentric standards of beauty, including feeling like less of a man when his wife no longer had long flowing hair. Dr. Guyton writes:
“I was also blinded by the numerous images of “beauty” that were portrayed in the media. Anytime I would see a Black woman who was in movies, music videos, pageants, or on any day time television, she had long flowy hair. This played into my psyche and caused me to think that these women were the definition of beauty. Finally, I was blinded by my own people (including myself) who constantly displayed self-hate. The men constantly spoke about how women with short hair or non-straight hair were nappy headed and sistas put tons of weave in their head for the purposes of “increasing their beauty”. We created the thought that we were not beautiful the way God created us.”
It just goes to show you the ways in which the brothers internalize these narrow definitions of beauty as well. It is also a reminder of why the embracing of natural hair should not be considered gender specific. I try to keep this in mind whenever I’m passed over once again at a bar for my equally built brown skinned homegirl with the long weave. I want to tell the women it gets better. But only after my locks grew in length did the compliments also increase. And for the most part, my dreadlocks still act as a major repellent in most dating circles, particularly involving some black men.
Also, out of all the preferences to have, loving black men, or another black person for that matter, is not the easiest (intra-racial dating is still considered a preference, right?). There is lots of unchecked baggage, which many of us have yet to overcome. Thankfully, our brothers from the Island, South America and more have been filling in the gaps where some of our brothers stateside have fallen short. And don’t forget the white guys. I see them checking a “sis” out too. If not for the fact that I really (and I mean really) love my locks, I might have shorn them off already and pressed-n-curled what was left. I think that’s where self-love is born: In spite of what some others may think (even the ones who think my hair is cute), I’m going to stand strong in my own personal definition of what makes me feel s*xy, sisterly, and however else I choose to see myself.
Natural hair vlogger Franchesca posted a picture today of herself with 7 year old Tiana Parker on Instagram. In case you don’t remember, Tiana Parker was the little girl who was dismissed from school when administers said her hair, which she wears in dreadlocks, was unacceptable for school. After the incident received national attention and Tiana received an outpouring of support from women, particularly black women around the country, the school lifted the ban. Recently, Tiana’s mother sent Franchesca an e-mail saying she wanted to meet Franchesca and that’s just what they did. This is caption Franchesca posted with the image.
Imagine my surprise this morning when I woke up to an email from Tiana Parker’s mom, letting me know they were in NY today! (If you remember, Tiana was sent home from her school a few weeks ago because of her #locs) We went out to lunch and had a really wonderful time chatting about school, NY and of course #naturalhair! Tiana is so funny, smart, confident and incredibly sweet. I’m so honored to be considered one of her hair inspirations. THIS is why I make videos! Meeting her has definitely been a career highlight #locs #naturalhair
We love it! With all the mess her school put her through, it’s absolutely beautiful that she has such an accomplished and beautiful role model.
This is too precious!
Our hearts collectively broke last week when we watched 7 year old Tiana Parker cry after being sent home because her school deemed her locs “unpresentable.”
Before little Tiana was sent home, Deborah Brown Community, a charter school in Tulsa, Oklahoma, had already enacted a policy describing afros, mohawks and dreadlocks as “faddish” styles. Naturally, when the news of Tiana’s mistreatment spread, many stated that there was nothing faddish about styles like the afro or wearing one’s hair in dreadlocks. Clearly, the school was either out of touch, completely culturally ignorant, discriminatory or a mixture of all three.
After Tiana’s story received national attention, from the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union and professor/news correspondent, Melissa Harris Perry, who wrote Tiana a beautiful and encouraging letter, the school decided to review the policy once again.
Yesterday, after a two-hour board meeting, the Deborah Brown Community, a school comprised of 98 percent African American student enrollment, decided to officially change their policy. References to personal hair styles have been removed and according to the Tulsa Fox affiliate, has been replaced with this:
“Each student and the parents/guardians of the student are responsible for the personal hygiene of the student. The administration reserves the right to contact the parents/guardians regarding any personal hygiene issues that it believes causes a risk to the health, safety, and welfare of the student, his or her classmates and faculty or staff or detracts from the educational environment.”
Board Chairman, Kenneth James told Fox 23: “It was never our intent to cause any harm to Tiana or her family by our actions. If harm did occur, we apologize.”
Tiana’s parents, who have already removed her from Deborah Brown Community, said they would still like for Tiana’s former educators to issue her an official apology.
Sounds fair, if you ask me.
While it’s great that the school amended this policy, it’s alarming that a school with 98% African American student enrollment could be so unaware of the discriminatory nature of their policy. It makes me wonder if the administration reflects the student and parent population they serve. So, with that in mind, if the school officially apologizes to Tiana, do you think her parents should send her back t
It was just a few months ago that a charter school in Ohio tried to ban “afro-puffs and small twisted braids.” After a major outcry from not only parents of students from that school, but from folks across the country, the school’s administration sent out a letter of apology to parents and said that the ban wouldn’t be included in the final rule book.
But as the new school year starts, another school, this time in Tulsa, Oklahoma, is trying to enforce a similar ban. In Deborah Brown Community School’s dress code, it says that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”
That’s right. They called locs and afros faddish, ya’ll. And a 7-year-old student at the school named Tiana found out firsthand that they were not playing with the dress code this new school year when school officials told her father that her hair didn’t look “presentable” and tried to send her home.
Terrance Parker, her father and a barber in Tulsa, says in an interview with a Fox affiliate there that she went to the school last year and they had no problems with her hair then. He also wanted to make it clear that from head to toe, he never lets his daughter look anything but presentable. “She’s always presentable. I take pride in my kids looking nice.”
According to the Fox affiliate, an administrator at the school told them off-camera that Parker knew what to expect and that her hair wasn’t acceptable. They feel that such “faddish” hairstyles would distract from the “respectful and serious” atmosphere the school is trying to have. Parker says the school hassled him so much about Tiana’s hair that he decided to pull the straight-A student out of Deborah Brown. She has already started going to a new school where no one has a problem with her hair, but when it comes to how she feels about her old school’s choice to ban her hairstyle, a tearful Tiana told the Fox affiliate, “I think that they should let me have my dreads.”
Of course, charter schools go by a whole different set of rules and ways of doing things, but unfortunately, they left Tiana’s family with no choice but to take her, and her locs, elsewhere. Check out the family’s interview with Fox 23 below.