"White folk wearin' dreadlocks irks the shit out of me."

Source: http://mens-haircuts.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/3ad83_JohnButlerDreadlocks.jpg

“Does anyone else get annoyed when they see white folk sportin’ dreadlocks, tribal tattoos, and stretched out earlobes with plastic circles in them? What the hell is goin’ on? It irks the shit out of me. ”

I am overhearing a conversation as I wait for my order at a café in Oakland, CA. The woman next to me is black and about 55 years old, wearing dreadlocks that are about 2 feet long with a plethora of glass beads flossed through them. She is speaking to her friend, a woman probably in her 50s as well with a shaven head and wearing yoga pants and a blue tank top. She has mocha colored skin tone and seems to be of East Asian descent.

I know what this black woman is referring to: a group of three white 30 something year olds sitting at a table about 8 feet away from the two women. Two men and one woman. They all have punk style dread lock hairdos. They have shaven the sides of their heads and there are interesting black tattoos on their scalps. They have piercings through numerous parts of their faces: a bull ring, a nose ring, a stud through the bridge of a nose.

I wanted to say something to the two ladies, but wasn’t sure what to say. After all, it wasn’t my conversation and I guess I had no business saying something… but I wanted to say something to this black woman. I had heard the conversation plenty of times, amongst black people, how it irks the shit out of them that white people try to ‘go tribal’ by locking their hair.

“Drives me nuts too,” I hear her yoga pant wearing friend say. “It reminds me of all the white people who jumped on the ‘I’m a Buddhist’ wagon in the Bay area, but don’t want to be all deep and reflective about their nauseating white elite privilege.”

Ouch. Did she just say that? And really loudly? Nauseating…. ?

Are white people not allowed to practice yoga, Buddhism, get tribal bands, or wear locs since it’s not ‘white culture’ (and what is ‘white cultures’ anyway)? If that is the case, does that mean I’m not allowed to continue with my beginner Zen Buddhism practice? After all, I’m not of East Asian descent; I’m a Black woman. Should my friend Heather, a Chicana yogi who studied in India, stop teaching yoga at a community center in NYC since she is not from India? Or, does our non-white identity make us exempt from “appropriation?”

Shortly after leaving the café, I passed by a Black couple on the street, holding hands. The woman (I read as a “woman”, but who knows?) was wearing a punkish Mohawk style and ear plugs through her lobes. Was she appropriating by wearing that hairdo?

I had a friend, “Nicole”, who is Filipina and African-American whose take was, “Well, I think what pisses me off about dreadlock wearing white people is that they can wear our black hairstyles, listen to our black music, and be all hip but still they will always benefit from being white. They can just shave that shit off and that’s the end of the story. Yea, I used to wear dreadlocks, but I shaved it yet I still have to deal with the bullshit of what my brown skin means in a society obsessed with white European phenotypes.” But, at the same time, I wasn’t sure if I could completely agree with “Nicole.” When I first met her, she had the biggest afro I had ever seen. Two weeks later, she had it professionally locked and ended up interviewing for jobs in the finance industry and landed a phat gig at Morgan Stanley… but she also seemed to navigate through life rather well with her Dartmouth Tuck School of Business degree making six figures at some investment banking company while wearing her dreadlocks the first five years working there, and then finally cut it all off into a short afro.

…my close from “T” is a white Jewish woman who now practices Zen Buddhism for the past decade. She mentioned to me last year that she’s getting uncomfortable with a lot of what she is doing because she believes it is a form of appropriation for most of her white Buddhist fellowship to wear the robes, use the names, and do the practices of Zen Buddhism. She is deeply questioning if she is appropriating, without being mindful of what it means to be able to do something that is not associated with ‘the white race’, but not be at a ‘disadvantage’ because of her own white racial privilege trumping the non-white roots of Zen Buddhism….but I wasn’t sure if I agreed either, as her practice of Zen Buddhism over the 5 years I have known her, have made her practice a type of mindfulness towards structural racism and systemic whiteness that may not have been possible, had she not become a Zen lay nun. She seemed to understand that mindfulness should include awareness of race and white privilege. She and I have noticed the overwhelmingly whiteness of Green Gulch Zen Center and the Berkeley Zen Center that we frequent. The other month, I began reading Race and Religion in American Buddhism: White Surpremacy and Immigration Adaptation by Joseph Cheah. He quoted from bell hooks’s provocative essay “Waking up to Racism”, who reflects on how whiteness and racism operate even in Buddhist communities that are largely white:

Often white people share the assumption that simply following a spiritual path means that they [white Buddhists] have let go of racism: coming out of radical movements- civil rights, war resistance- in the sixties and seventies and going on to form Buddhist communities, they often see themselves as liberal and marginalized, proudly identifying with the oprreeseed. They are so attached to the image of themselves as nonracists that they refuse to see their own racism or the ways in which Buddhist communities may reflect racial hierarchies (hooks in Cheah 2011, 4)

According to hooks, many white Buddhists have failed to realize the extent to which African Americans feel marginalized and out of place within their religious communities. For some African Americans, choosing to belong to a Buddhist community “has been synonymous with choosing whiteness, with remaining silent about racism for fear of bringing in issues that are not really important” (Hooks in Cheah 5, 2011). Hooks contends that white supremacy operates as an invisible regime of normatily for white Buddhists of all political orientations. Furthermore, hooks mainstains that the ideology of white supremacy informas the individual interacations that determine the shape and direction of convert Buddhist communities (Cheah 5, 2011).

Leave it to bell to break it down like that…. But still, I can’t say I totally agree. Yes, I’ve encountered plenty of annoying white Buddhists who deny that their whiteness means anything and love collecting and wearing anything that looks Zen or Buddhist… but I’ve also met a lot who, like “T”, became Buddhist to become a better human being and make sure they are not being complicit to structural racism.

What is it all about? Are us people of color collectively annoyed when we see white folk doing things that we deem “non-white” because of the reasons that Nicole and hooks mentioned? Or because of what the Asian lady at the café mentioned in terms of certain white Buddhists being clueless about white privilege?

What do you out there think? I mean, I practice so many food, herbal, healing, music, etc stuff that isn’t “black” or “African”… does that drive people who nuts if I’m using their music, foods, etc? Can I use Chinese herbalism or am I offending Chinese people? Or is it okay since my great-great grandmother is actually Chinese? Not that I’m looking for permission…

Works Cited

Cheah, Joseph. Race and Religion in American Buddhism : White Supremacy and Immigrant Adaptation. New York: Oxford University Press.

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294 thoughts on “"White folk wearin' dreadlocks irks the shit out of me."

  1. You know what… I believe mindfulness, respect and reverence for whatever practice you take up is the most important thing. It is vital to connect with the root, or essence of whatever you do so you can most benefit from it.

    Doing thangs just cos they are cute doesn’t do anyone any favors. Thanks for writing this post. Julien and I have had this conversations quite a few times…

    1. I just saw this article and all I can at is Shame on Everyone who automatically assumes that someone with White skin is Caucasian! Anyone with an education knows race is a social construct used to separate people into categories by appearance only and guess what? Appearances can be deceiving. How do you know the person is not multiracial? Or even adopted and they have been raised in that culture? It amazes me when people talk about cultural appropriation and they have no idea what someones culture truly is. Hearing someone talk about cultural appropriation based on someone’s skin colour is what is nauseating.

      1. Exactly. I’ve got a friend who is 50% Native American, 50% white. You’d think she’s 100% Scandinavian, though, what with her dirty blond hair, pale skin, and green eyes. I’d love for some SJW to approach her and command she take off her feather earrings or whatever lmao. At the end of the day, these “cultural appropriation” discussions never accomplish anything and only serve as a “circle jerk”. Controlling how culture is expressed by attempting to pinpoint its exact origins (a futile endeavor) and then legislating who is allowed and not allowed to partake can best be described with lyrics from the song “Maria” sung by the nuns in the movie “The Sound of Music” — it’s like “catching a cloud and pinning it down” or “keeping a wave upon the sand”.

    2. LMAO. u won’t understand unless u have the skin hair ect. Multi racial ( not looking black whatever) lmao. B4 all this garbage Dress was a life style religion it had meaning. BOB MARLEY wasn’t rocking em cause he thought he looked cool. Lmao white privledge is real even other races look down on BLACKS a lot. Dress is surprise to have real ethic meaning. ( just reading some of the earlier reasponces). EEVERY WHITE PERSON ON THE PLANET BENEFITS FROM WHITE PRIVILEGE. EVEN UR BF U KNOWN SINCE 1ST GRADE OR UR STEPMOM.. LMAO

      1. Bob Marley himself said white people having locks is fine. He was actually bullied pretty hard for his “whiteness ” growing up.

      2. All of these posts about white privilage coming into a conversation about “Culture appropriation” i have to get my two cents in. I am a half white, half native american male and i had dreadlocks from kindergarten all the way into 8th grade, and im planning on restarting them. But my hair is not the point now, all of the people talking about white privelage is whats confusing me. “White Privilage” is almost non-existent in my opinion because of my experiences as a caucasian looking mixed guy. Growing up in the inner city of Richmond Virginia coming from one of the worst neighboorhoods, i say fuck the “white privilage” bullshit because i myself have never been exposed to it. Being the only caucasian looking kid in any of my classes, being sorrounded by the “minorites”such as african americans, hispanics, south americans, what have you. ALL of my friends to this day have been 99% black. And not having the best home life i practically lived with my black friends, and i was accepted into every black home without any prejudice or them considering me as mocking their culture with my hair. As i grew old enough to go out on my own with friends we were ALL profiled by city police, the upper class people who lived there, and everyone who visited the city and took a wrong turn into our violent, gang ridden neighboorhood judged us as gangbangers, criminals and bad people. I WAS profiled as a caucasian looking male. I WAS given the same treatment as any black person or hispanic person because of where i lived. i didnt get into any special school because i was white, wasnt givin a free pass from police because i was white, i also wasnt judged by my black neighboors because i was white. People who live the struggle dont care about a white kid with dreads because they are too busy surviving. And i can speak for many other caucasians (me being only half but looking as white as any other white person) that go through the struggle and drop the color bullshit because it doesnt matter when we are all in the same social position, trying to survive. I was shook down on street corners by police with my black friends just as if i was black myself. The police officers that harrassed us werent saying to me “hey white kid, you go ahead and stand over there while i search these black kids for drugs.” Everyone who is socially disadvantaged is treated the same, as criminals. Whether you are black, white, hispanic, asian, purple, yellow or polka dotted. we need to stop focusing on irrelevant things like “Cultural Appropriation” and start working with one another to advance ourselves as a country. Now i’m not saying that rascism among white people towards black people is gone. being from the south it is very much alive and i can’t stand the ignorance of people who judge one another by something as simple as a skin pigment or a hairstyle. And that goes for black people too who judge others by a hairstyle or their skin color. But back to the original subject of the post, dreadlocks are not exclusive to any race. ALL hair when unwashed or uncombed will become wiry, dry and start to lock. European white people with long hair had locks, my native american ancestors had locks, native africans had locks, early asians had locks. So saying that my dreadlocks offends black people or the black culture that you uneducated people believe dreadlocks started from, shame on all of you for thinking that just because a white person has dreads they are either trying to be “black” or a hippie. Most people, not all, who make these posts are already at a social advantage as it is having enough funds to afford a computer or smartphone to even write this bullshit. Please everyone who believes in this social appropriation or the white privilage bullshit please just stop because most of you obviously havent seen what its like to be truly profiled, oppressed, or taken advantage of because of your “race”(social class) I have seen rascism at it’s finest and it was not directed at my black neighboors, but all of us as a socially disadvanteged community. Yes there are ignorant white people who just want dreads because they listened to a little reggae and the shits cool. But do not think they are “stealing” your culture because they aren’t. i sported dreadlocks because my jamaican friend introduced me to the Rastafari religion and me embracing it helped me deal with the unbelievable struggle and prejudice that me and my community were going through. In summary, culture appropriation is just another idea that once again divides us as races and communities. I am proud of my dreadlocks and my upbringing that showed me that culture appropiation is just a big word for ignorance, and judging people by labeling them as “culture thieves” is the same as seeing a black person and thinking they are a gang member, or seeing me as a native american and thinking that i have a name like little bear. I embrace all cultures and try to work them into my life because all cultures can teach good morals and values that can be beneficial to all people regardless of race. Dont be ignorant brothers and sisters.

        1. This is one of the most heartfelt and well reasoned comments I’ve ever read (and completely agreed with) on the internet……..thank you so much Mr. Andrews!!!!!!!!

          Blessed Be……………..

          1. I’m trying to reply to Cock Asian, but I don’t see reply button to sent the post. So…

            Whites are the only to have oppressed? I seem to recall that Egyptians had thousands and thousands of SLAVES building stupid pyramids for them, as if being buried in one would allow the dead person to rise from the dead. Stupid crazy idea. But thousands upon thousands of slaves died doing that hard work. Yet the whole world oos and aaahs over the pyramids. Perhaps ISIS will blow them up since they represent pagan gods.

            Romans enslaved Germans. Yet I don’t see Germans today whining about Roman slavery. The whole of Latin America is ROMAN, it’s where they came from.

            And as far as middle east is concerned, those people are white. They are Semites, like Arabs and Aryans like Iranians and Indians there – that’s white.

            Blacks are whining about this bs because of all the stuff Chris Rock explained in “GOOD HAIR.” It’s rubbish, more bs for blacks to whine about.

        2. Too late now but God bless
          People like you are a gem to this world. Please keep living the way you are and you will always be blessed.
          Take care bro

    3. Why my ‘dreadlocks’ aren’t cultural appropriation.

      I am a young English girl living in Devon. I have what some people would call ‘dreadlocks’, that is, tangled locks of hair. I recently uploaded some photos of myself to Tumblr. I expected a couple of comments, maybe the odd bullying jibe. I didn’t expect the reaction I got. Suddenly I was being accused of cultural appropriation, branded a racist, jeered at and threatened. Why? Because I am white and I have locked hair. I was shocked. Naively, it hadn’t occured to me that people would look at my hair and presume i’d appropriated black culture.

      You see, i’ve never thought of or called my hair ‘dreadlocks’. To me they are elflocks (or as I call them, simply ‘locks’), and they are an interesting part of my culture, a part of English folklore which can be traced back to at least the 16th century.

      The Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) defines the word elflock as: ‘hair matted or twisted into a knot as if by elves’

      Wikipedia says: ‘English Folklore: It can refer to tangles of elflocks or fairy-locks in human hair. When young children, especially girls, wake from an evening’s slumber with tangles and snarls in their hair, mothers with a tradition of fairy folklore might whisper to their daughters that they had caught fairy locks or elf-locks. Fairies, they say, tangled and knotted the hairs of the sleeping children as they played in and out of their hair at night. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy-locks

      Our famous English poet William Shakespeare writes of elflocks in his world renowned play Romeo and Juliet, written in 1592, where he talks of the mischeivious fairy, Queen Mab, who tangles people’s hair at night:

      “She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
      In shape no bigger than an agate stone…….

      That plaits the manes of horses in the night
      And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
      Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.“


      As he implies in the line ‘once untangled, much misfortune bodes’, it was said that to undue the tangles would cause bad luck, and so many believers would intentionally leave these locks to continue to tighten (‘dread’) up throughout the rest of their lives.

      But Shakespeare is not the only one to speak of elflocks. Indeed they feature frequently in poetry and literature, both English and otherwise:

      – ‘She wore no hat, and her grizzled black hair streamed in elf locks over her shoulders’ – The Golden Road by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published 1913

      – ‘His jet-black hair hung in elf-locks over his savage-looking features’ Windsor Castle by William Harrison Ainsworth, published 1842

      – ‘ELF-LOCK, tangled hair, supposed to be the work of elves’ Volpone; Or, The Fox by Ben Jonson, first performed 1606

      – ‘But my fingers still grasped my friend’s kind elf-locks, and her goose-nose brooded beside mine upon that water of undivulged delight’ Henry Brocken by Walter J. de la Mare, written 1904

      – ‘His long hair hung in elf locks over his shoulders’ The Heart of the Desert by Honoré Willsie Morrow, written 1913

      – ‘It grew on the hinder part of her head, and was matted together like an elf-lock’ Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II by Charles Upham, published 1867

      – ‘The backs of his hands began to grow cold and his unwashed forehead was damp beneath matted, red-brown elf locks’ The Long Roll by Mary Johnston, published 1911

      – ‘She brushed back her elf-locks, and gave a low grunt like some wild beast’ Fairy Book by Sophie May, published 1866

      – ‘Her scarlet kirtle was torn, her hair flying in wild elf-locks, and her face was the face of a mad thing’ Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett, published 1951

      – ‘Thus, Norna appears in long, gray robe, to which are attached the hood and elf-locks of the witch’ Comic Tragedies by Louisa M. Alcott, published 1893

      – ‘Her face was half hidden by the twigs and leaves, and by her own disarranged hair, which hung in black elf-locks about it’ The Girls of Central High on Track and Field by Gertrude W. Morrison published 1914
      – ‘The soft, cool breeze lifted her dark elf locks, and lingered and cooled her hot brow like a friend’s kiss’ The Actress’ Daughter by May Agnes Fleming, published 1886

      – ‘So too a tangle in the hair was called an “elf-lock,” as being caused by the mischief of the elves’ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 9, Slice 3 by Various, published 1910

      – ‘He was dressed entirely in black, his clothes in disarray, and the thin hair upon his head was matted in fantastic elf-locks with sweat’ House of Torment by Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull, published 1911

      – ‘His unkempt elf-locks were more wild, his uncleanly linen more disordered, his eye more bright and restless, than of yore’ My Lords of Strogue, Vol. II (of III) by Lewis Wingfield, published 1879

      – ‘Tears rolled down her cheeks; blonde elf-locks hung over her eyes’ My Lords of Strogue Vol. III, (of III) by Lewis Wingfield, published 1879

      – ‘Her brows are bound with bracken-fronds,
      And golden elf-locks fly above;
      Her eyes are bright as diamonds
      And bluer than the sky above’
      Merrow Down by Rudyard Kipling, published 1902

      I have known of elflocks for as long as I can remember. As a child, I remember waking up from a peaceful night’s sleep to find my hair wildly tangled, mini locks already forming, already difficult to tease out. My Mother would mutter curses to the fairies as she fought to seperate the strands of hair, and i’d wriggle and squirm and cry every time it pulled.

      I’ve always had an interest in faeries, and in the ancient traditions and folklore of my country, and this has only increased as i’ve gotten older. My hair has never stopped tangling and my resentment at fighting to tease the locks out has only grown. I’ve always known that folklore deemed it bad luck to comb out my elflocks, but as a child, the decision was not mine. As a young adult, I am free to let my hair do it’s natural thing. And it has! The faeries have worked their mischief and my hair has knotted faster than I could have imagined. Whoever believes that caucasian hair cannot lock up by itself is hugely mistaken. I have never backcombed, nor used wax, never crocheted in loose strands nor palm rolled. Save from washing them regularly and seperating them at the roots every once in a while for obvious practical reasons, my locks are entirely the creation of the faeries and of themselves.

      And yes, i’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the way they look. I do. But to me they aren’t simply a fashion statement. They certainly aren’t an attempt to appropriate another’s culture. They are a reflection of my love for my country with all it’s quirky history and tradition, a reflection of my love of folklore and of the fae, a link to fond, magical childhood memories and a desire to let my hair grow as nature intended, free and untamed.

      I cannot claim to speak for all English people with locked hair. I daresay not all of them will have the same reasons, the same motivations as me. But I can say that there is more than one people, more than one culture for whom locked hair is a part of their tradition and a part of their history. Do not take something at face value or judge a book by it’s cover, there may be more to the story.

      1. It would ne much shorter and easier to simply evoke the fact that the very first men who wore dreadlocks were the Vikings, in other words the celts. The celts originated in Austria and were one of the first civilizations in Ancient Europe. They have moved all over Western Europe before settling in Ireland.
        In other words, for any European person who would like to wear this nice hairstyle, this is NOT CULTURAL APPROPRIATION.
        And if it were, what’s the problem ? Couldn’t people just mind their own business ? Don’t put tell me that black women don’t dress themselves with clothes made up by French or US stylists ? Don’t they do anything to straighten their hair ? Do you hear any white people winging about it ?

    4. The flip side of fashion criticism is how African Americans and East Africans (where I do a lot of work) often straighten their hair. I have NEVER heard anyone of any race criticize that. I really think we all borrow looks from others because they are attractive. Sometimes to try something new. I love it all and hope that cross-styling keeps on and flourishes.

      1. That’s not a flip side if one understands that internalization of white beauty standards in order to look ‘professional’. There is a whole canon of research dedicated to why a significant number of Black women straighten their hair for job and economic mobility. There is much critique of this phenomenon using social science research and I’d be happy to supply you with a few great citations that talk about the politics of Black women’s hair and respectability…

    5. Can u explain to me why it’s ok for black women to put straight extentions into their hair but it’s not ok for whites to wear dreads? Should us whites get mad because black women are trying to look white? I’m confused about this wouldn’t that be inappropriate as well? I know this was posted some years back but it’s being talked about alot in the media recently and I’d like to get your take on it.

    6. Haha all these black women out here going blonde and straightening there hair and putting that fake ass European hair in they’re head and y’all got the nerve to write this bullshit. Racism won’t end racism. Get over yourself. I’m Samoan and white…. not that it f*cking matters but I know you racist b*tches wondering.

  2. Breeze, a good (White) friend of mine and I have had conversations on this topic, and I remember laughing when we talked about it because she seemed so much angrier about it that I was. She called it what it was: appropriation. I understand your viewpoint here and feel that, in fact, we all appropriate in some way or another, White appropriation feel different to me, namely because the hallmark of Whiteness IS appropriation — to steal and then be intentionally ignorant about the theft.

    I’m not saying here that all White people steal, of course. I think that if we understand Whiteness as a social construct, though, we see the history of that construct in this country is to erase the more obvious vestiges of European-ness and replace it with, among other things, the idea that one’s phenotype equates to entitlement. I’ve heard Whites say, “We don’t really have a culture,” any while I’m sure many would disagree with that — particularly folks doing Critical White Studies — I think that there is a reason for that statement. Whiteness teaches that people of a certain phenotype have a right to everything. If I wear spacers in my ears and a White friend does, too, we’re both appropriating. But White supremacy teaches us that only one of us is appropriating a right, and, if you want to have any “culture” at all, a way of life. I think that’s why it stings a little more when we see Whites appropriating than when we see non-Whites.

    I’d also wonder here about when the act is appropriating and when it is learning, honoring, absorbing, adopting. Every time a White person does something “non-White,” does that mean appropriation is going on? Also, doesn’t all cultural shift and development hinge on an adoption, adaptation, absorption of/to others’ cultural practices?

    Thanks for the post, Breeze.

    1. Wow. Beautiful! Couldn’t have said it better myself. I am multi-racial. If you looked at me you’d think I were white. Make no mistake! But it is often annoying when people assume one thing or another about me. I embrace all aspects of who I am. I have worn dreads. In fact I make synthetic dreads. I am part Native, part black & white. A lil Dutch & Irish in the mix too. Truth is it’s 2013. As much as we would all want to think were all 100% whatever it is we wish to identify as we aren’t plain & simple. It is my body, my skin, my heart, my blood & NO ONE!!! Has the right to interfere with my pursuit of happiness (as long as I’m not hurting someone or breaking the law) It’s very hard for me to describe what I’ve listened to & experienced as a multi-racial person. I have seen excessive racism in both whites & blacks. It’s been an eye opener. I think the tribal look, ear plugs, tats, piercings are beautiful & I embrace other’s rights to do that if it makes them feel good. Some people go to extremes no matter what they do. Ultimately what I do to my body is my choice! Not your! Not anyone’s Mine!Imagine what a boring world we’d live in if we were all exactly the same! Yuk! We are all from immigrants, we are all from transients. Whether through, slavery, Native, or immigration. We should all embrace each others differences. This would be a much kinder, more loving & accepting world if we did.

    2. “Whiteness is appropriation”?? Good Lord you are icky. Get over yourself and stop perpetuating racism. Just live and let live– who gives a shit about people’s skin color and what they’re wearing or doing… White or not. Why this is such a hard thing for people to do is something I don’t understand.

      As for the author, good post. It amazes me what people say to each other about others in the confines of their own circle. The ignorance and intolerance is mortifying.

      1. Actual everyone gives a shit about people’s skin color, and if you have been watching the news with things like Anthony Hill and the SAE racist chants you will see that. This isn’t a post-racial society, ignoring someone’s skin color does not solve the problem. Colorblindness doesn’t acknowledge the ways in which racism still prevails. You can’t ignore racism, it does not solve the problem.

    3. ‘the hallmark of Whiteness IS appropriation — to steal and then be intentionally ignorant about the theft’

      Wow. That is… really offensive. Forget all the long, rich, diverse cultures of Europe; the main thing is stealing from other cultures like vampires.

      I’m guessing this was perhaps just poor wording, but wow it sure reads offensively. =P

      1. I get the impression the author of that post was talking more about the concept of “white” than all traditionally “white” cultures. The ancient Romans were very racist–against Germans, Brits, basically a bunch of groups that would now be called white. The concept of whiteness as it exists now is only a few centuries old, and was used to justify European imperialism. The way it’s phrased does have negative implications, but I don’t think the poster was actually suggesting that all predominantly-white cultures are defined by their sense of entitlement.

  3. yeesh. sorry about the typos above. in that last paragraph above i meant “But White supremacy teaches only one of us that appropriating is a right…”

    1. Then why have I met POC that feel entitled to the things they appropriate?

      That makes no sense you’re creating a context that’s not real

      Without discussion of culture why would POC who’ve been Americanized in a homogenous society that values commoditization and wealth think any differently? Because I don’t meet black people trippin about listening to wu tang and I doubt they asked a martial arts school to use the references to karate and such. Did they go through a ceremony to embody those cultural ideas or stereotypes? I know plenty black kids who wanted to be a karate master too and never felt any different as to how to go about it than me.

      I think you mean that whiteness at the root teaches all of us this. But in essence know we all feel entitlement to another culture. White people have govt police and media control so our ignorance has more consequence. Just don’t pretend POC are more enlightened about this because you’re only enlightened about what effects you. This is something you’re aware of as a group because of racism in this country but I don’t think black people or any POC are culturally sensitive as they want others to be of them. Regardless though we are the ones causing the ills so that’s responsibility on our back.

      Just know on a day to day how fuckimg annoying it is my wealthy black friend can listen to rap kpop wear weeaboo shit then rock his dreads and cornrows too and not have to think twice about it. But if I put some dreads on he can go nuts on me because how society is set up.

  4. First, I’d say that obviously people can do / practice whatever they want. After all, it is a “free country.” I put the term “free country” in quotes because when people say that, I think of all the ways in which this place isn’t free. I think I agree with your friend Nicole who says “they can just shave the shit off.” That, for me, has a larger meaning. They can shed whatever marginalized identity they choose to put on, and still be White at the end of the day. As someone who wears locs, when I see a White person wearing them, I just can’t help but cringe. My hair is more than an aesthetic choice, it is a cultural and political expression. I know that everyone who wears them doesn’t feel that way (Black people included—even though I can’t imagine it’s a majority), and that should be okay, but somehow it’s not to me. Even if a White person had a reason for wearing locs other than for aesthetic purposes, I just wouldn’t be able to appreciate it. I know that Black people didn’t “invent” them or anything, but I can’t help but feel the way I feel. It’s kind of like when I see them a voice in me is like “they take EVERYthing!” I’m not willing to trivialize my emotions because they may seem illogical to some. When I say that, I mean, being called “overly emotional” or “sensitive” won’t make me think differently. Of course, there are plenty of things I wear for purely aesthetic purposes so really judging someone else isn’t fair. But I’m not pretending to be fair.

    1. thanks, that kind of thought helps me… i am a convert to Islam and i wear the headscarf. and I often think about thins in that kinda way too-that these might be cultural appropriation (like i thought about wearing dreadlocks as a part of becoming a sufi-in some tariqua this is a kind of tradition too) but i know i am white. i can put the scarf down, i can wear whatever i want, this wont erase my whiteness. i can put myself in a situation were part of society singles me out (and i think i have to because it makes me(and i think most people too) literally sick if i have to become somebody who isn’t me but what society wants of me. so in my young years as a goth and punk i was part of a smaller culture and got harassed and called out because of it-but i ve chosen it. i´ve could succumb to the expectations of society and could´ve gone relatively unharrassed (well, as a ciswoman there is always sexism, but my white privilege never goes away)

      so thanks for asking these questions–i can´t answer them..i mean, if i am like “my” culture, that doesnt feel like me. but what is me if I need to be something “other”(literally) to feel okay?

      hard questions.
      (Iam not a native speaker, so sorry for any grammatical or spelling errors if occur)

    2. I am a “Caucasian” person because we all know that white and black weren’t the words used to fill out the act etc in school that were so important that they divided our culture more in the present than necessary. Surveys, you take them almost daily.

      I wear what some people would consider dreads, others mange. My hair is almost to my butt because it is do coarse but it is still a big pile on top of my head pretty much. I decided 3 years ago to stop brushing my hair. Not to look cool. Not to do anything other than go back to what is the most natural thing to do. We live in such an advance time it is almost impossible to disappear. Even though I grew up on a farm I don’t hunt and going back to WAY before we evolved into this society is so unreachable.

      I wanted one thing that I display daily to resemble the fact that we got here from a group of beings that didn’t look in the mirror daily to make sure there were no abnormalities in their image. I am not always looked upon well by white people with dread locks. I work a 9-5 job and have had the position For some time. People who don’t treat me with kindness, most people do, look at me like I am homeless. I once had an African American older male in a liquor store turn to me while checking out say “you’re hair is really matty” I said yeah. He finished paying and left. Maybe trying to insult me.

      Don’t judge others.

    3. YOU ARE A RACIST. Plain and simple. In case you wanted to drop the “woe is me, I’m black” face you wear to actually understand dreadlocks, here is your chance. Blacks didn’t have dreads until about 3000 years after “whites” and “Asians” wore them. Hindu religion has included dreadlocks for thousands of years. Jews have worn dreads for almost as long. When the Mongols invaded China, they were wearing dreads. You say you had dreads for political reasons, but I’ll bet you don’t even know why blacks have dreads in the first place. Check the book of numbers in the old testament Fool. GET OVER IT AND GET OVER YOURSELF. I am white and I have dreadlocks. I have just as much of a right to wear them as any black person. Educate yourself. Your narrow minded view of the way things should be are as antiquated as the views of the White people you think are still oppressing you.

      1. You are literally the white dreaded guy that all people of color should direct their feelings of anger at. Your last comment is shameful, “white people you THINK are still oppressing you.” There are millions of black folk in America telling you and showing you they still are oppressed. I know the mostly white EDM music festivals are all “post-racial” or something, but you should turn on the fucking news.

        And finally, this statement is highly suspect: “Blacks didn’t have dreads until about 3000 years after whites.” Okay…so if we all come from Africa, and Africans were the first people, and African’s hair dreads quickly and naturally…I’ll fill in the blank for you and let you know that Africans were the first people to have dreads.

    4. I agree with everything you’ve all said for white people who try to turn their hair into something it’s not and steal a culture and exploit it for looks. However, although extremely course hair is primarily a quality of the black community, there are a few white people like myself who were born with hair that dreads by the end of a day. I’ve been called a racist and yelled at for cultural appropriation on numerous occasions for having dreadlocks as a white person. This to me is messed up. I would understand if I had traditional “white” hair, but I don’t. My hair dreads up by the end of one day. I like to go on road trips and camp, I don’t want the hassle of brushing my hair thoroughly multiple times a day. If I go 3 days without a thorough and time consuming brush session, I need to spend 4 hours brushing out the dreads my hair naturally created even if I wash them everyday. I don’t find it cool to be penalized for letting my hair do what it naturally does and be called racist for it. As I said, I agree with the concept that white people should not be stealing and trying to unnaturally recreate natural black hairstyles, but don’t make the few of us white people who literally can’t do anything else with our hair seem like awful, insensitive racists. Every argument I’ve seen against white people having dreadlocks seem to completely forget the fact that some of us don’t try for it. I’ve been talked to from managers at a previous job about my hair and have been forced to hide it, dreadlocks are the only way to contain it. And if part of the argument is for the black community to be natural for what they were born with without being penalized, let the rest of us do the same too. Don’t shame me for what I was born with and make me seem like a person who’s trying to participate in cultural appropriation for having a hair texture that is rough to deal with. Don’t clump all of us white people with dreads to be ignorant racists trying months to create a look not natural to them.

  5. I really like the article, Breeze. Personally, I’m annoyed when people adopt traditions (religions, hairstyles, etc.) of other cultures, but have no interest in or respect for that culture. I’ll give you an example. A former co-worker of mine once casually referred to multiracial children as “cute little nigglets.” There were several racist things said to me that day, so I filed a complaint and quit. The chick had her boyfriend give me some lame excuse about how some people don’t mean anything by what they say or just don’t know better. Soon after, this chick dreads her hair. She’s been wearing locs for 4 or 5 years now. Her choice of hairstyle strikes me as slightly antagonistic because of her appalling racial ignorance. Also, I’m one of those people accused of “selling out” since I’m a brown-skinned girl who enjoys heavy metal, speaks proper English and has a white husband. I’ve experienced so much ridicule and hostility from other people of color. While most white people don’t mention it, some have insulted me by saying things like, “You’re cool/pretty/articulate for a black girl.” Those types seem to think prejudice doesn’t affect me because I’m “not like the rest.” I like to point out the fact that what some call “acting white” doesn’t deter racism.

    1. See that’s the problem……. you are deemed a sell out because of your choice of conformity. I bet most of the people of color had a perm. 2 me that’s a true sell out. speaking of women of course. I was off topic there.

  6. I imagine that the two women of color have dealt with a lot of racism. Their anger likely reflects their experiences, particularly the woman with dreadlocks. Maybe she experienced workplace discrimination for her hairstyle, or perhaps she’s been insulted or harassed by white people about her hair. There is an unfortunate practice among certain so-called counterculture types who dread their hair by not washing it, and some folks think lack of hygiene is the general rule for dreading hair. However, I don’t think the assumptions the women of color made were fair. I think people who have suffered frequent discrimination sometimes fall into the trap of projecting the resulting anger onto everyone around them. They begin to accept stereotypical ideas about other social groups without considering the negativity that ensues for everyone involved; that same negativity caused the initial prejudice that started the who stereotyping mess. Again, I’m glad you shared your thoughts on this subject, Breeze. I love the fact that you examined appropriation rather than assuming that those white kids with dreads are just privileged and ignorant.

  7. Now, for one of my off-the-planet thoughts: Maybe the deep-deep knowledge that we are all African from the very beginning has a pull in the DNA in these people. I know more than a few people of presumed European heritage with kinky/wiryAfrican… hair. The Irish-American guest did not hear the comment from another friend, “What is that guy? His hair is kinkier than anybody else here–a mostly black party. The guy’s features, skin and hair color were “white,” but my other friend was right about his hair. it was “close cropped.” If he had grown it the only way he could have managed it would have been dreads or Fro

    Kasheena, I hope you live to see a change in the obsession about color, hair, features, and other insignificant attributes. Like many Americans of African heritage my family is peopled with black to white skins, straight to kinky hair, blue to black eyes, stupid to brilliant. We were “mixed” before it was cool to say “mixed.” My granddaughters have Irish and Korean mothers. I have concern for their futures if our separating obsessions do not change. The “racial”/human environment appears to be worsening.

    1. I am reading this undergoing chemotherapy for cancer in a Hong Kong hospital and I look up to see a TV program about three Chinese people transformed into caricatured black people.

    2. dreads are a hair style that’s all … it don’t matter what color or race you are !!!!!!!! for those who think it should be for only a certain race or color are just STUPID and NARROW MINDED!!!! why dose everything have to be a color or race thing ….if you don’t think white people should have dreads then why is it blacks are straightening or dying there hair when they have curly black hair …

      1. This. ^. The fact some of yuns make a huge racial debate and feel “angry” or “frustrated” in a racial manner, at people for anything to do with their own body is repulsive and dehumanizing. Please. Everyone; keep feeding the hate. It’s what the white elitist want to further the gap, and fuel the fire

      2. You’re white. That’s the problem many blacks have with whites sporting “dread” locks. You all assume that it is only “a hairstyle”. It is a part of culture. To many it means more than just a “hair style” and to sit here and sport a piece of culture then demean (shrink the important cultural aspect of it) by stating “it is only a hair style” is pretty fking rude.

        1. Which culture? There are several cultures for whom dreadlocks are an aspect of identity, including the source of African-Carribean dreads, called jata and ganga, which is the sanskrit word for what we call marijuana. There are an conservatively estimated 4 million sadhus in India who have dreadlocks and smoke ganga. It is an aspect of south Asian culture that has been practiced for thousands of years.

          This all begs the question of whether non-Indian people are just appropriating from more than one source. But I think it also shows that this is not simply a matter of race, and it’s not simply a case of stealing from black people.

  8. i would have to agree with the two women in the cafe.
    i do think that 9 times out of 10, white people are appropriating those things, and yes, i do think that people of color can appropriate from different communities of color, even their own.
    the issues with appropriation, more so (or at least, i feel it is) is the structure of power in relation to many of the colored communities and traditions. appropriation contributes to the erasure of those communities. and it just adds another thorn to the issue when a white person, who more and likely benefits more so than anyone else from that culture erasure and whose ancestors (more and likely) were the direct destructors.
    i read an article a recently about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and the “worlding” (term uses by the author, who was Chinese) of it, specifically in the US. his issue was not exactly who did it, it was mainly that…whereas a student may study TCM in China for decades, give free or nearly free services and work within the communities, now there are white people (or just US-ians in general) studying at some school in San Francisco for 6 months, opening a spa that caters to rich white suburbanites that charges fees most people of color or recent Chinese immigrants cannot afford. the same can be said of all the yoga classes that have become trendy ever since Madonna said she used it to stay svelte…without understanding that no one practiced yoga in India without the spiritual aspect of it; that yoga was not an exercise regimen, it was a physical complement to a philosophy.
    i think the issue with dreads is that non-Black people who have dreads do so to be rebellious, non-conformist, to fit some grunge or punk trend, or sometimes just to look un-kempt. this adds to the idea that our hair is something other than normal; other than just the way our hair is. it becomes a spectacle; a costume. which is why at times, one may have a hard time finding a job with natural hair. yet non-Black people can cut their hair and be completely accepted by society. it’s almost as if they’re waving their privilege in our faces without thinking about just hard one whose hair naturally locs has it in this society.

    i think the main issue is that most people doing these things that are termed appropriation, know very little about it, thus, adding to the erasure of those traditions. for those non-Asians who, for example might practice Zen Buddhism-i don’t think there is an issue if they genuinely study it, understand it, and then cautiously approach things like plugs, native tattoos, bindis, mohawks, feather headdresses, and other hairstyles (although i don’t ever think it’s alright for white people to do locs). but these people are few and far in between.

    1. I’m a white man with dreads & i really enjoyed reading this. great page with great thoughts, minus this comment. you have a great command over the english language, granted, but there are soooo mannnyyy contradictions in your words, re=read it please. as far as the opinions… i shouldn’t have dreads? come on. you shouldn’t have shampoo and french toast then.

      1. Shampoo and French toast are (according to you) aspects of a culture which stripped other cultures bare and forced non whites to live without any trace of their heritages or die. You did not do this, but you are trying on an aspect of a culture which doesn’t apply to you and which was nearly erased by others of your culture. Though this is not your fault, I hope you can see how this might be offensive. I know you probably feel committed to dreads (I know how hard it can be for white hair to dread!), but hopefully you can appreciate the effect it might have on others.

    2. Honestly, I think white people with dreads would have a MUCH harder time finding a job than black people with them.
      Culture naturally gets stolen and borrowed and changed by other cultures. That doesn’t mean that it is okay to be ignorant about where the things you’re appropriating originally come from (especially if you’re white or your ancestors have been oppressors). But you shouldn’t really tell people what they can and can’t do, you should educate them about the origins and teach respect. We should seek to preserve the roots, but not hate people for liking something from another culture.

      1. ^ “especially if you’re white or your ancestors have been oppressors” I get a feeling some here don’t read much. Whites have been the only people to have ever oppressed? Educate yourself

  9. I agree with Nicole. White people wear our culture as a trend and it is unacceptable. The same people who want to say “wack” and “swag” fear the black and Latino sides of town. (I read a Tumblr post with this exact wording the other day.) I find it extremely offensive.

    I know that we live in a post-modern society where cultures ebb and flow and origins are pretty nebulous, but let’s be real with ourselves. Even if numerous cultures have worn locs for centuries, whites who don them now are often hearkening back to what they mean to blacks–resistance to oppression, specifically oppressive standards of beauty. What these white, self-proclaimed Rastafarians don’t understand is that locs were a tool to resist *white* oppression. When whites mat their hair, are they boycotting themselves, then? Please! SMH.

    I’ll finish by saying that earnest Buddhist study is different than Ras Trent, the Long Island suburbanite, turned Rastafarian, turned hedge fund manager. My people aren’t a trend!

    1. there where no brushes in the begining of gods time. hair is meant to dread. if black people grow out their hair you get an afro, if white grew thier hair it would dread into a big a mat. everyone has to section their hair to get dreads. never forget.

    2. This is an old thread, so forgive me. I find it to be a sweeping generalisation to imply that only non-whites have been the victims of white oppression. Dreads have been widely adopted by counter-culture movements, regardless of the colour of one’s skin. These people are counter-culture for a reason – there are at least two things that stand out to me about white oppressors, other than the fact they were white – those in charge were mainly men, and they were mainly Christian.

      White non-Christian women have had a raw deal. Our ancestors were burnt at the stake, owned, raped, traded. Even today, women who don’t conform to the expectations set out for them are treated harshly. Even today, the herbalists, the midwives, the questioners, those who dare even to stand up for the rights to their own bodies – oppressed. I have been born into a body I find it hard to identify with. If this is privilege, I’ll try to use it for good where I can, but I don’t want it, didn’t ask for it, and it is not who I am. Please don’t make it harder by expecting me to conform to the standards set by my race – tailored suits, thigh gaps and little gold crosses are not what I have ever identified with. They are, to me, marks of a different kind of slavery – but slavery all the same.

      I cannot choose my body, but I can choose what matters to me, and I don’t deserve to be judged for my race any more than anyone else. I will not spend my time trying to ‘pass’ to please my peers, nor will I do it to assuage white guilt or appease the outrage of other groups. I am me.

      1. Thank you for this post, I am writing a research paper on locks as cultural appropriation and am often running into an inability to put my thoughts and feelings into written words. This post expresses much of what I believe, thank you for wording it so beautifully. Empowering.

  10. Thank you Breeze, for the post. Appropriation is the perfect word. About a month ago, I would have sided with the loc-wearing sister based on my experience of blatant racism, sexism (I am a lesbian), colorism working in NYC and now as a massage therapist (Life Essence Massage, LLc.) in Maryland. I am learning to accept the fact that white people and some non-color identified people adopt many attributes of African and African-American culture because WE offer the best of everything. I now take it as a compliment to my race, smile, embrace it and move on. I think everyone is entitled to freedom of LIFE in its totality, as being angry, causing your own suffering based on the actions or non-actions of others is well…..unhealthy. Please continue to post, your topics are great and always make me really think!!!

  11. As usual, your blogs open up chapters of experience for me incisively and I would say, safely. Allowing me to look at the effects of being visibly white and male — and remembering always to return to my center, my core, to be my most authentic self. Thank you for your consistent love activism.

    While writing this note, a wommin sends me a comment on facebook. Her words are hard, harsh, and have nothing to do with my recently updated “status” message. But this wommin has reclaimed the right to be on the lands of the West, appropriated by Manifest Destiny, cultivating food forests, rewilding with plants which are indigenous to the places she walks. Yet she does not write gently and her treatises evoke painful images, non sequitur to any discussion I’m generating. The pain has gone too deep, as she sees many people who choose a world of poisons while integrating with the land, desperately trying to save the traditions and reindigenize the spaces — yet undermined by local “authorities.” Her flames are notorious and have burned many — still some fairy moths are attracted to her trans* flame and they learn a new way.

    I wanted to write back and say you’re on to something … where you will go is beyond me. I am still engaging the inappropriate appropriations and, without the lived experience of people whose cultures I embody, find that my best laid roots are still ill in dysconscious femmefestation. I feel strongly after reading this today that my best decision is to cultivate stillness, remember the many lessons I have learned, and honor the many teachers who have come before me, engaging life in similar ways. I hope that I can cultivate this inner love in such a way so that I can return to this blog and meet you where you are at, ready to redress the important issues you do.

    Here is what I wrote in response, which is a narration of my experience and is not completely coherent.

    What troubles me these days is not so much being visibly white — for anyone who has lived in this world without such freedom papers can tell you that it is no trouble at all — but finding an authentic connection to my ancestry. As children around me sought out self-expression, I grew up with many people who were keenly interested on one’s “heritage.” When I brought the questions back to my family, I did not get a clear picture of where we emerged from. The only thing that was clear was that we had migrated as far back as anyone could remember in their lived experience. Running away from a past which called us “black Dutch” a then-respectable term for describing chosen displacement from any cultural background which could be seen as tainting one’s racial purity, my family continues to wander the Americas, laying roots in the soil and firmly blocking anyone else who isn’t visibly white, enjoying discourses on how immigrants are taking too much.

    Meanwhile, the inane wanderings of my culture of whiteness march on to the dead beat of fascism. And I am struggling to believe that James Baldwin was write, for me to identify as white means that he will continue to be seen as black. In practice, culture seems to be far more fluid than that. Some heritage is passed on biologically, it is true. But I have also encountered cultural preservation agencies working hard to ensure that the traditions, songs and memories are passed on from generation to generation. Where is the line? Perhaps there is something to be said for ease of access to cultural wisdom in the age of information. All you have to do is pick it up. Learn it and, perhaps honor what you learn by returning the favor for someone else — playing it forward. Yet this ease of access is informed by our industrial times, where money determines the ability of one person to step on others to get where they want to go in life.

    So I find myself glad, Breeze, that your words today have helped me to see my “hobbies” for what they are, and will do my best to commit myself to minimizing my agency in the first place. Perhaps at the moment of grounding within myself, I will find that authentic root to display myself in the fullness, rather than flaunting my labels, philosophies, and ideas as a self-made, self-serving guru.

    I appreciate the conversations that are generated as a result of your hosting this blog… and I enjoy hearing the responses, for the most part. Other times I am quick to judge and play “spot the problematic language” in someone’s comments in fear that I am going to walk that road again, or that I am still walking that ethereal world of oblivion. But it all helps, each time I sit to compost my feelings in this safer container for truly free expression. Thank you everyone for giving of yourself so freely. I am glad for this collective of writers, readers, activists, and lovers.

    Where would I be without the teachers who have walked this path before me? I am most especially glad for the black dyke mother/trans*parent Valencia Wombone for directing me to The Sistah Vegan. I encountered her love first in the space in which I now inhabit — a primarily white gay male commune. Without this blog, I would not be able to celebrate the worlds which are not white gay men and navigate the problems which are, I think, elements of structural racism. But that phrase “structural racism” is one I am going to have to look up today. “I still have more work to do” and if I’m lucky I will be able to pass on the loving work I engage onto the next generation, for I will be working until I die. Thanks to bell hooks I can rest a little more easily knowing that love is the work I set out to do.

      1. Do you think perhaps the root of the problem isnt the white people wearing the shitty dreads but rather white societys attitude towards dreads that lumps you and everyone else who isnt wearing them to shun societys standard of beauty and neatness (mainly black people who are usually trying to do the opposite without completely whitewashing their appearances) in with those who are.

        No denying that if they didnt themselves think it was cute to be that way, and to be in your face about it, the image people got upon the mention of dreadlocks wouldnt be a pot smoking moron who never bathed. They should definitely put some consideration into what affects their actions have on other people… I mean, if they were aware of their world theyd understand that the actions of a few will always shape societys view of anyone who shares their common features, dreads in this case. But to blame them and not the ignorant mindset that makes them inadvertently harmful to others… its a bit like fighting the sore throat and not the cold itself, yeah?

        I feel like if we could sort of shed more light on this difference in approach, people with locs like yours wouldnt be harmed by the other type as much… I mean being frank, white culture (mainstream white culture to be specific) has long before rasta or even america was a thing considered unkempt matted hair (which ive always considered to be different from actual locs but apparently others not so much…) As a form of protest or indifference against its superficiality and materialism, which lest be honets, thats what mainstream white cultures all about. And further cultures all around the world, including older european ones, have considered them a spiritual practice or symbolism of strength or wisdom or what have you and the handfull of people ive ever met with dreads followed one or more of those cultures ideals.

        I dunno. I feel like this being 2016 people should have a better sense of respecting difference in cultures rather than trying to cookiecutter everyone. Me myself, im letting my hair rat up in the back. Not to be unkemt for the sake of it but because I have psoriasis and conditioner makes my scalp itch to death, and in order to keep my scalp comfy I cant let it go too long without shampooing or it gets oily ad also itches. And when I just shampoo my hair, it makes rats so sturdy it breaks regular combs…. so im done fighting with it.

        Why I bring this up is that I my ratty hair is not the same as dreadlocks, because i dont put nearly the same symbolism behind them. the problem is, ill have to argue with a lot of my peers to get them to stop calling them dreads, even though theyre no more dreads than they are jatas or fairie locks. But I figure I could do a lick of good and try to educate my friends and anyone else on the subject by using my rats to open up a dialect about respecting differences in cultural symbolism.

  12. White dreads bother me for a few reasons, and the main one is because it can be assumed, and be correct 99.9% of the time, that they have no idea what they’re doing, no idea that they’re appropriating, no idea that it is a very difficult thing for people from the African diaspora to see something important to us taken by them, and also they don’t care what we think. Dreads ARE the cultural property of the African diaspora, and If you’re white and have the critical awareness of race and culture that you should, you’d know that and not want to wear them.

    Also, if you want proof that white people shouldn’t have dreads, ask them about their dreads. They always say the most mind-blowingly ignorant things. My expectations for their level of not being fucked hover around zero, and they still manage to shock me. One white woman said, “I got tired of living up to expectations of being pretty.”

    Lastly, white people, aesthetically speaking, cannot pull off dreads. Dreads on kinky textured or curly hair tend to be totally gorgeous, pretty, neat, and well executed. White dreads are a giant hideous matted hung of filthy dirty, did I mention hideous? – grossness. White people with dreads, having zero connection to or awareness of the black culture they stole from, also seem blissfully ignorant to this matter, as if their giant ugly hunks of matted hair are supposed to look like that.

    In summary: Yes it’s appropriation, and if they knew what they were doing they’d stop, and also white dreads are gross and if I’m ever in proximity to them I’m hyper-focused on trying not to smell them or have them swing and accidentally touch me.

    1. First of all, I want to say I’m white and have dreads. Im from Texas I moved to Egypt, Africa when I was 14 and lived there for two years and just moved to Mumbai, India since things were getting pretty heated in Egypt. This experience has really opened my eyes to different cultures and I love to embrace them. I find different cultural aspects beautiful and have no intent to hurt people by embracing them. I was pretty shocked when I read your post to be honest. In particular “Dreads ARE the cultural property of the African diaspora, and If you’re white and have the critical awareness of race and culture that you should, you’d know that and not want to wear them.” this was surprising. I am aware of African diaspora but this does not make me not want my dreads. I also do not understand why you think we are stealing your culture. No one can take that from you it IS you. I do understand that it must be so frustrating to see people doing it to be “hipster” . At the same time though, if I was African, I would feel flattered that someone thought my culture was so intriguing and different. Please do not take that the wrong way. I’m saying if someone was to idk straighten their hair I would not feel like hey what are you doing this is MINE how dare you. (even though i actually have extremely curly hair just a typical white girl example). but instead id think wow my culture is pretty cool if people are adapting and shit. Even though some of the white/black people with dreads do not know your culture so well, the fact is YOU do. Their ignorance doesnt change the amazing culture you have and im sure they arent intending to “steal” it ya know.

      “Yes it’s appropriation, and if they knew what they were doing they’d stop, and also white dreads are gross and if I’m ever in proximity to them I’m hyper-focused on trying not to smell them or have them swing and accidentally touch me. ” Cultural appropriation is mostly seen as a negative thing when I believe it shouldn’t be so focused on that. Understanding and embracing other cultures has made a huge positive impact on my life. Cultural fusion is in a lot of ways great. In Egypt for example alot of the “white” group would not bother to even try to relate or socialize with the Egyptian group so there was an (mis) understanding that they didnt like each other. I however became very close with an Egyptian girl through our love for rap music and she introduced me to many things about her culture. She was happy to see that someone CARED and wanted to know. Which why when you say “all white people” or “always” it really gets to me. Say some.

      Finally, I LOVE BLACK PEOPLE. I cant imagine a world with out rap or all the BEST vines. Rap has helped me through so much and I appreciate it like crazy. Lil Wayne was one of my inspirations for dreads, along with the background of them and the that I find them so pretty. Another reason was to prove to the world dreads dont make you a pot head or unsanitary or less educated. Lastly I I was reading an article awhile back that was talking about how rastas would grow dreads to protest the traditional European standards and as a to show “black pride”. Yes I know IM NOT BLACK. But i do care and think that the way Africans were treated was just horrific. So take my hair as I am supporting you and going against what has happened in the past and continues to happen even now. My family is from arkansas so i go there to visit and there are some(not all of corse) pretty racist people there including a few of my family members and it just pisses me off endlessly when they say “niggers” and shit. I want everyone to remember that I am not responsible or proud of the “white man” history towards black people. I am simply a 16 year old girl who had nothing to do with that and that know i find it so shameful on the white mans part.


    2. As a white person with dreads which I clean regularly and do not smell (I promise) I would point out that clean unbrushed white hair will naturally form dreadlocks. White dreadlocks are not stolen from African or Jamaican culture. I would go as far as to say they are not even the same hairstyle and perhaps should not be called dreads at all.

      You yourself pointed out the aesthetic differences. as for whether they look good or not well that is opinion. I personally have locked hair because I have met many (white) people rock climbing and at gigs with dreadlocks and I always liked the look of them.

    3. Dreads are not only for black people. Hindus wear dread locks be very careful who you accuse of “stealing” culture. Every culture has had some form of locks at one time and on top of that its a spiritual covenant. And the only man thats in Diaspora is a man who fails to love and serve the universe. Peace.

  13. This whole issue of “appropriation” has too large a body of literature that cannot be addressed in a small space. Moreover, I realize that this is a type of issue in which no comment, no matter how elaborate, will change people’s minds. The issue of “appropriation” requires individuals to engage not only w/information but to also have a certain amount of emotional and psychological openness that neither the women you listened to, nor, am I sorry to say, many of the commenters of this post seem to have. People HAVE to be willing to take emotional risks in order to grow intellectually/conceptually (as do “white” folks when it comes to race and their thinking “im not racist”).

    Insisting on these “white” vs “other cultures” not only negates human history (and no, I’m not omitting racism, slavery and ongoing structural and social race issues) but perpetuates reductive, rigid categories that, quite simply, do not have universal application across time and place. The mentality of the women you listened to reminds me of Audre Lorde’s dictum that “the master’s house will not be dismantled by using the master’s tools.” They have borrowed from the master’s mentality that corrupts and misplaces anger in a manner that does not address legitimate social/racial grievances. Rather, sad to say, reflects a deep historical ignorance replaced by wounded and proud ignorance (it’s not only “white” folks who are capable of this). Why do wounds channeled in an ignorant manner get to pass off as “edgy” resistance?

    Perhaps these women shouldn’t be speaking English (or even attempt Spanish for that matter-let’s not forget it’s a colonial language as well), dare not EVER listen or perform “classical” music (nor should the Asians that nowadays predominante in the field), or even, speak of human rights (which are not an intrinsic category but much of the concept comes from-yes, folks-“white” people who nonetheless made a travesty of that idea for much of the last 200 years). Also, don’t use Listerine since because it was invented by a “white” man and lay off the CA burritos. And forget about the apple pie with that coffee.

    As for “C’s” comment on white dreadlocks being dirty and disgusting-shame on her/him. Talk about internalizing racism directed at you and projecting it outward.

    Just my two disgruntled cents-from a big brown woman with a crazy head of frizzy/curly hair.

    1. what you’re leaving out of your analysis, PGD, is the relation to power and, as i mentioned, the erasure of culture that is the main issue inherent within culture appropriation.
      to act as if a non-Native rocking a feather headdress and saying they want to be “native today” (which i see on tumblr almost on a weekly basis) is equivalent to me speaking in English doesn’t recognize that the English language or anything having to do with the English is anywhere near extinction. whereas nearly every tradition of people of color is in danger. many Native, Africa, Pacific Islander, Asian, etc. languages die every day. and largely BECAUSE English (or French, or Spanish) are being pushed onto those people.
      me or any other person of color that speaks English is largely because the English came to our native lands and FORCED us to speak English. i am not speaking English by choice, i’m not in the US by choice, and listening to classical music (or rather, playing it in school, in my case) was also FORCED upon me. just this year, i believe there’s a number of cases that have been brought against public schooling by various Natives for being prohibited from speaking their native tongue in school. do you see the difference?
      it isn’t appropriation when you have to do something for survival; when someone forces your people to do something or suffer harsh, if not grave consequences. you cannot appropriate something that is forced upon you either by physical force or societal forces. and using something like “listerine” or anything made after the industrial revolution and acting that like “belongs” to white people lacks the understanding of the American US culture post 1500’s.

      “much of the concept” of “human rights” comes from white people??? what does this even mean? human rights is a concept that is a RESPONSE to human injustices/oppression, which largely come from western/European/white people. most indigenous peoples of this planet have believed in some level human rights all along prior to colonialism – colonialism brought about by Europeans. which is why we only see the Europeans taking slavery and other things that have always existed to a disturbing degree and irredeemable degree. so how white people orchestrated the concepts of something they brought on…is complete nonsense. and no, it wasn’t just the last 200 years. please, do some research. it was about 500 years that Europeans have been ravaging and executing various genocides throughout the world. and even that is a frugal estimation.

      1. You’re not in the us by choice? Or speaking English by choice? Last I checked the United States are FREE (and have no official language). Meaning if you don’t want to speak English, learn a new language, that’s your CHOICE. If you don’t want to live here, LEAVE. Because that’s YOUR CHOICE. No human living on this earth has forced you to speak one language or live in any certain place (especially in the United States) so quit fucking blaming people and just live.

      2. “human rights is a concept that is a RESPONSE to human injustices/oppression, which largely come from western/European/white people”

        Okay, let’s be real with ourselves here. The mongols did irreparable and absolutely horrific damage throughout Asia and the Near East long before Europe started colonizing. Hundreds of thousands of people raped and murdered and left on the streets. Some cultures never recovered from that. The only reason Europe wasn’t wiped out was because of Ogedei’s unexpected death. The Ottoman Empire almost took over Europe. Human ignorance and cruelty and selfishness have ALWAYS existed. In the past few hundred years the majority of these atrocities have been directly from or a result of white colonization (save the extremely atrocious and extremely recent massacre/rape of Nanking that nobody seems to ever talk about) but don’t EVER assume that any of our ancestors were lovey dovey nice people that held hands and loved everyone.

      3. If you looked at me, you would see a white man. You probably wouldn’t see any difference between me and the Englishmen who tried to destroy your culture.You also wouldn’t see a man who isn’t foolish enough to believe that my white skin didn’t make my path in life easier. I do realize that black people grow up in a different America. I don’t pretend to understand what its like. Instead of telling me to “check my privilege”, talk to me. Every time you meet a white person who isn’t an overt racist, you have an opportunity to educate them or alienate them. Choose education and maybe we can get to a point where we can appreciate each other’s culture ( I’m Highland Scots BTW… the English stole mine too) without having to feel as though there is a wall between us.
        Maybe you can teach me the proper way to wear dreadlocks, and I can teach you the proper way to wear the kilt 🙂

      4. Hmm, it’s interesting how you neglect to THINK about the slavery what was indigenous IN Africa, Africans enslaving Africans – and it still goes on today. White people are the ONLY people (fools) that actually fought and died to set another race free. What FOOLS they were.

        Nobody forces Asians to master classical music. WE tend to do it because we CAN do it – and we like what we are doing. It doesn’t matter if Bach was German or whatever.

        I heard about blacks whining about whites with dreads and I thought “oh no, now what is the problem? More non issues.” MANY people have worn hair like that, Spartans, Celts, etc. from ancient days, too.

        Pure blacks from sub Saharan Africa do not hair hair that is in any way limp enough to make dreads. It’s kinky hair.

        Chris Rock has much to say about blacks and their issues with their own hair in the documentary “Good Hair.” Watch it.

  14. I know that dreads can most definitely be cultural appropriation. I researched A LOT and spoke to A LOT of people before thinking about the larger ethical impact of my appearance. While I also feel it’s sad that simply letting a part of my body be itself comes with so many ‘strings’ – I realise that the impact of cultural appropriation is bigger than me.

    I would never (for example) dress up as a Native American Indian with a headdress for Halloween, I understand how this is wrong. I’ve also helped my friend realise that a tattoo they previously wanted was inappropriate, that despite their personal feelings and meanings behind it being genuine, that there was a need to recognise the bigger picture when taking into consideration white privilege. I also understand that my sense of entitlement to personal expression does not trump cultural issues, and I have never wanted to cross any of these lines.

    However, dreads (specifically, I feel dreads are something which need a different kind of attention than what I previously mentioned) are something which stretch back thousands of years and stem both independently and are connected from a huge variety of cultures and parts of the world – dreads aren’t so black and white, and the line is not so clear, especially when taking into consideration where someone’s individual inspiration for dreads has come from.

    This is what I learnt from the people and research I encountered. The history of dreadlocks is very interesting, both oppressive and empowered meanings for a range of different ethnicities (including white folk). Some spiritual, some cultural, some purely for convenience and sadly and now in present days – some in ignorance. Used to both divide and unite. Not to mention (and this is where a lot of my personal feelings come in) that this is something that will naturally occur to your (anyone’s) body if you simply don’t intervene with modern day tools (but also not necessarily ending up in grossness either, I promise!) Now, this information is in no way an attempt to neutralise dreadlocks so as to erase the significant bond that many PoC have with them to make it ‘okay’ for me to wear them, I really hope that’s not the way I’m coming off! I’m just hoping to show my thoughts.

    The combination of both an ambiguous and clear/strong ethos of dreads along with the personal opinion of never seeing an instance where judging people by their appearance alone has worked out well, makes this a very interesting and confusing ethical topic. While one may suggest that white people should simply reframe from this ‘style’ (what a terrible word) to avoid the complexity of issues associated with dreads, I’m not sure (and neither are many people I’ve spoken to, both PoC and not) this is an answer which actually fixes anything. I feel like in this particular instance, it creates a stagnant barrier of communication, and unnecessarily polices other people’s bodies. However, I could be wrong and maybe one day I will come to that conclusion, despite feeling quite strongly about it now!

    I do wish people would talk to me if they are feeling negative about something I’m expressing, I think it’s important to talk! I’m not trying to make this about me, like – ‘wahhh poor sad white person having negative assumptions made against them’, and I’m not sure if it’s worth going into my own reasons for dreadlocks, because I’m not sure if people would agree with me in that intent is important, more so than appearance. I can see how it may not necessarily always work out that way with these issues, and not everyone is going to agree. At the end of the day I did choose this, knowing full well of the issues associated, but not from a place of defiance or arrogance. Btw, of course, I still wash my hair – my hair is clean and smells lovely! All I know is that communication is key, and it’s important to keep the conversation going and I’m really glad I came across this blog! I just thought I’d put my thoughts in here, I hope I have not offended anyone. If I have – I do apologise. I would never try to tell someone they shouldn’t feel something and I hope I have not intruded upon an autonomous space.

    1. from what i’ve read, the few instances that mention Europeans having loc’d hair have been shown to simply refer to braids. which is not the same as being “loc’d”. although, i would like to know what instances you’re referring to of traditional Europeans with “locs”.

      also, it should be noted that, while some non-African or African-descended folk have what we might term “dreads”, they usually are not. Hindus from India (i believe they either identify as “untouchables” or “aesthetics”) have what we might term “dreads”, but they are in fact simply hair that is twisted. many Black people that have what we might term “dreads” is not, in fact, loc’d. locks, sometimes termed “free-form locs/dreads” are what no one’s hair but ours (Africans and descendants) can do naturally if left uncombed. this (http://www.onehairstyles.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Hairs_692.jpg) type of “dreads” is actually twisting; twisting the hair until it stays that way (which can be done without product on kinky hair). this (http://www.howtodread.com/dreadlocking.jpg) is also twisting.
      whereas this (http://naani.com/Articles/content_images/1/bobmarley1.jpg) is what is true locing/dreading. the latter is something no other hair other than kinky/African hair can do without chemicals or excessive drying. even going without washing for a long time-non-kinky hair still does not loc/dread as this does. this guy goes into it in a number of his videos (http://www.youtube.com/user/cupidvalentino1?feature=watch).
      the former locs can actually be combed out (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SJo1oQPoPmg&feature=related) while the latter has to be cut out.

      1. I’m white (mix of Irish English, Welsh, and German descent). I have free form dreads. I simply stopped brushing and kept my hair clean and they formed all on their own. The only thing I’ve done to my hair besides wash often is separate them as they form. I’ve never twisted my hair, I didn’t force my hair to dread, it just did. So much for your only african and decendants hair will dread naturally comment.…

  15. PGD, in order for straight-haired people (of any race) to achieve dreadlocks, one of their main tactics involves not washing them for obscene amounts of time. It’s just a technical fact of what it takes to get dreads if your hair doesn’t naturally do it. I’ve been submerged in white hippy spaces full of gross locks and this is just how they do it.

    1. Hmmm… there are plenty of straight-haired people who aren’t white. I am trying to understand why the ‘repulsion’ of white people having their hair locked when it’s not the way an afro wearing ‘black’ person locs their hair?

    2. They are doing it wrong. Having had white textured dreads for a long time now, I can say that I would not have dreads were this true. I clean my hair regularly. it is true that shampoos which contain conditioners or leave residues will destroy white dreadlocks. you need only use shampoo with few ingredients.

      residue free shampoos do not perfume hair so dreads tend to smell of there environment. hippy’s in my experience tend to spend time in fairly smelly places…

      personally I fragrence my hair with herbs from my garden

  16. Thanks Breeze for noting that plenty of people around the world have straight hair (um, Asians?) as well as many middle easterners and latin americans (particularly in central and andean america where most populations are of native american descent).

    Also, Europeans have plenty of curly and kinky haired populations as well.

    1. PGD see this is my problem with the use of “black” or white as if it is biological. When does someone become “black”? If race is a social construct and white people are not “biologically” white, what does it mean ? My son looks “white” but his mama is “black” and read as so in the USA. But I have been told that I would be considered “white” in certain countries in Africa because of my lighter brown skin, 1st world status, and ivy league education. If I moved there where i am not seen as “black” but as a “privileged white american” should i no longer wear locs? Can my son wear his hair in locs while living in the USA even though he looks “white” and my birth certificate says “negro”?

      What I am suggesting is that this is quite complicated and I can’t really say that I agree that all “white” people should not wear locs. There may be a significant number of white racialized subjects in the USA who don’t want to think about white privilege but that doesn’t mean all of them think this way.

      I would also say that the intense anger against whites wearing locs, from blacks, is more a reflection of the collective tension and frustration of living in a USA in which there hasn’t been any remediation or critical nationwide dialogues and policy changes and consciousness awareness around just how deeply traumatizing racialized colonialism was, and the messed up racialized hierarchies of power and privilege that it left behind.

      1. Breeze,

        Most black people in the US have afro textured hair and very melinated skin. Your son’s ethnically ambiguous appearance in not the issue here. Most black people are not ethnically ambiguous. You don’t seem to really have any idea what a very melinated black woman with locs in a professional environment has to contend with daily. I am black, a woman and I have had locs since 1994. Am I ticked off by white people with locs, a little? Black women with locs don’t have to justify anger toward whites that view them as a fun hip hairstyle to you or gse. One poster mentioned that some white people have kinky hair well some people are struck by lightening but it’s not the norm. Title VII of the federal code covers grooming and dress standards. The only natural black hairstyle protected under federal law is a short afro. In Jespersen v. Harrah’s Operating Co. (9th Circuit, 2006) a black women sued because Harrah’s grooming and dress code required that women must wear their hair “down” at all times. Braids, twists, and locs were prohibited and considered extreme, unconventional and eye-catching. For most black women wearing our hair “down” would require some sort of straightening. The law ignores phenotypical differences between people of black African ancestry and everyone else. Countercultural whites with locs reinforce the idea that locs are extreme. You might find “Another Hair Piece by A. Onwuachi-Willig – Georgetown Law Journal, 2010” informative.

        1. Alchemist, sorry if I come across as if I’m saying that black women with more melanin than myself, who wear locs, aren’t experiencing difficult work environments because of their phenotypes. I was not trying to say that but rather asking generally, how “white” is being defined in this conversation and are we only talking about the confines of the USA and only in the present sense. I know I am considered ‘lighter’ black woman. I never had locs but have always worn a natural afro in professional workplaces. Until 2005, I was always working in all white technology environments and I’d get a the stereotypical stupid comments about my afro. Even more, I’d just get ignorant stupid comments from the mostly white men who worked in the tech sector that were sexist, racist, white supremacist, homophobic. I remember when I wore my big afro at Ikena in 2000, where I worked as a software tester. When I came in, a man on my team commented that he didn’t like that my afro “had to be so big.” I had blown it out with a hair dryer and afro pick and it was 4x longer than it usually was (because I would just wash and go and let it dry naturally). I also remember him making a comment about a new Asian female hire and how she could be cute “If her face wasn’t so flat.”

          And yea, I am aware of the racist policies against women of African descent who want to wear natural hairstyles. The reasons I never straightened my hair in the workplace was because I thought it was bullshit to put myself in harm’s way by using toxic relaxers. I had always thought it was racist and was waiting for the day for a supervisor to complain about my hair or something so I could tell them that it’s horrific that I would be expected to give myself cancer by straightening my hair to meet some Euor Anglo centric benchmark of ‘hygenic haircare’.

          Hope that is clearer 🙂

      2. This reply is actually to Alchemist right below but I couldn’t seem to post it correctly. Thank you for your argument!In graduate school we had several conversations about the “social” construction of race. And for some time I completely agreed with it as a purely social construct. However, now I feel that yes the things ascribed to appearance have social effects and consequences but as you said most Black people are not ethnically ambiguous. I’m Black as well as the majority of my family members and you can look at most of us (even the lighter ones) and tell that African descent is definitely a major part of our make up. I just wanted to say that because sometimes I feel we get so caught up in the terminology of theory that the practicality is lost. And we have to be real, social construct or not, race is experienced as very real. And most minorities have the battle scars to prove it. So we’re not talking about individual instances but rather the politics of how race operates for various groups of people. In some countries, such as South Africa where there was a such thing as Honorary Whites or considering a person white, something makes me believe that the privileges afforded aside, the people were still very aware of white and nonwhite. So while a person may be afforded some standard of white privilege, I’m thinking the fact that it has to be afforded to you shows that people are still aware behind the veil of white and nonwhite.

  17. “Countercultural whites with locs reinforce the idea that locs are extreme” Thanks Alchemist. This explains a lot to me.

    Breeze, again, I don’t know why you insist on calling your kids “white”-they’re not and don’t look it either (i.e. it is patent that they are of mixed African descent). This is bizarre to me. I have a close acquaintance who is “white” and has a biological daughter with an “asian” woman. Their daughter looks extremely Asian, everyone assumes she is “in full” (including other Asians and Asian Americans) yet the father does not think she looks Asian AT ALL. This is fascinating to me how two parents with mixed race kids don’t see what others see but prefer to understand their kids as “white.” Why?

    1. HI PG. I don’t think of my children as white but I was trying to say that they are ‘read as white’ but I don’t actually think that they do ‘look white’. I do not think they ‘look white’, but that is my subjective opinion and I think they definitely look like one of their biological parents is of black African descent. I should have typed ‘read as white’ not ‘look white.’

      When I said ‘read as’, or ‘legible as’, I am referring to how a significant number of people who have seen them commented on them (in racial terms). I hope this makes sense. I actually do not like it when they are referred to as ‘white’. I hope I am making sense.:-) And I want to clarify that I don’t hate ‘white looking children’, but rather it feels like my experiences as a ‘black racialized female subject’ are being erased when people refer to them as ‘white.’ I also have anxities around what it means that they could be ‘treated as white’ . The implications of them potentially being oblivious about racism because so many people afford them ‘white privilege’. does that make sense?

  18. Gotcha!! Thanks, Breeze, for always taking the time to respond thoughtfully.

    And thanks again for this great forum-it’s not easy to find an open and “safe” yet very honest space where to discuss these issues.

  19. I try to learn French. Does that mean that I want to abandon being “American”? (Whatever that means lol). I don’t know – but I like the way you observe things. I can see you on the street looking at these things.
    I once watched this amazing travel video on India. It was made in the 1990s. The goal looked like it was to introduce English-speaking “Westerners” to Indian culture. So a guide, or narrator, and cameraman went around filming and talking to people on the streets and in their daily lives. They walked around – the film’s crew – it appeared, as guests to the country. It was a nice travel video, and I rented it from the library.
    A part of it showed this man with a large, large, what looked like a custom-made headwrap. And having what looked just like what people call “dreadlocks” in other places in the world, this man took down his headwrap and exposed all of its long glory to the camera. In the documentary, they narrator was saying how it was a very spiritual thing, for men in India to grow very long, and wear their hair in this very specific way. So as a white person watching this, I sat there and thought in my mind, “Well I thought that was a (imagine italics) black (imagine close italics) thing”. It’s interesting.
    Why can’t we all just teach each other, and share? I like what the above person just said – that imitation is the best form of flattery. Thanks for letting me post this.

    1. an Indian man wearing “dreads” (which i showed the issue with calling them “dreads” in one of my previous comments) is an Indian man who has religious, cultural and traditional reasonings for their hair. this is not an OK for someone whose ancestors came from Europe to do the same.
      and no, imitation is not the best form of flattery when people’s cultures are on the brink of nonexistence. knowledge and understanding of the culture, practices and norms is the best for of flattery.

      1. Hmm….what about the millions of mixed people here who have ancestors who come from Europe but don’t identify as ‘white’? For example, a girl whose mama is Irish and Ethiopian and her father is Italian and Chinese? Just putting it out there, as this child as “ancestors [who] came from Europe.” Not a strange question, as here in N. Berkeley and the San Francisco area, we have a lot of ‘mixed’ identified people.

      2. What is wrong with appreciating and respecting someone elses culture? I would think it would be racist to not be open minded, hmm?

      3. @ Kristen:
        nothing is wrong with appreciating and respecting something from another group of people. however, one also has to be responsible in how they “appreciate” and “respect” those aspects. i may enjoy Navaho spiritual leaders wardrobes, and i may very well respect and appreciate them, but if i do now have the knowledge (the responsibility that goes along with that respect and appreciation) as well, then it voids the supposed “respect” and “appreciation”.
        if, for example, i did dress as a Navaho spiritual leader, yet i know almost nothing about what they do or how the Navaho are different from other Natives, if i didn’t know that only certain people are permitted to wear this clothing possibly specific to age and gender, if i didn’t know that the Navaho are barely surviving on reservations, that their culture is dying and that a few that have dressed in traditional ways outside the reservation have been physical assaulted or fired from jobs….and i wear this wardrobe as if its “just a wardrobe” and don’t acknowledge the privilege i’m flaunting in their faces….then it isn’t respect and it isn’t appreciation. it’s elitist, highly disrespectful, and yes, racist if you are white.
        in your other response you said “it’s just a style”. wrong.

        Black people have been barred from and fired from jobs for having dreads (google ‘six flags and dreads’). dreads are still seen by the larger society as dirty, unkempt, signal a pot-smoker, and rebel, etc. but we have to chemically alter our hair NOT to be that way. yet you, who doesn’t have kinky hair, do it because you simply think it’s a style. you can look at tenets of Rastas and others and see many spiritual reasons for BLACK PEOPLE to have locs, you can look into history to see why they are termed “DREADlocs”, you can access plenty of sources that tell you how locs have been seen throughout history (in the US and the Americas) and are still seen today. it is far from just a hairstyle. that is simply something you tell yourself because you don’t want to deal with the very disrespectful and privileged stance you have taken because you like this supposed “hairstyle”. and no, it isn’t a hairstyle. ponytails, buns, and braids are “hairstyles” – locs are how they naturally grow from our scalps.

        also, i think you would benefit from reading up on critical race theory, like…whats on this blog. not partaking in something does not deem one a racist. the only way i can see that making any sense is if it’s coming from someone who doesn’t really know what racism is. i’m also unsure why you felt the need to share that you’re a Zen Buddhist because that has nothing to do with locs…

  20. true, Breeze. there are a number of people of mixed heritage who may identify as something other than European. however, i was under the impression that this discussion was about white (self-identified, or societally-identified) people wearing dreads. and to a degree, one has to discuss mixed “race” considering the term “white” is very limited and elementary as a category for humans.

    my point is that…and i think this should be the general rule…if one’s hair does not kink naturally, and they have to drastically change the texture of their hair in order to get it to loc, they run the risk of cultural appropriation, disrespect, and disregard for the social (color/racial) hierarchy that exists, mainly within this and other western nations. there are a number of people that have African ancestry whose hair does not kink. and they have their own choices to make about that, seeing as how their situation is a difficult one in such a racialized country. however, to those people whose hair does not kink and as far back as their ancestry goes, it was in Europe (although, i believe a small portion of white-identified American have someone Black in their family tree), they should seriously reconsider doing such to their hair. mainly because of the implications within this country.

    learning that Hindu Aesthetics have their hair “dreaded” is not a go-ahead for white Americans to then say “hey, this man…who i know nothing about in a country i, nor anyone in my family has ever been to…did it to his hair, therefore i can as well..”. even Indians living in the US who have no knowledge of why certain Hindus do this to their hair should reconsider (it should be noted that those in India that do this to their hair are doing it for spiritual reasons, which i believe has to do with some type of oath one takes for a path within Hinduism-and note that even Katy mentioned it was just men who partake in this hairstyle. yet, she – sorry is that pronoun is inaccurate – thinks this is ok for her to do ???).

    and while there are many Black people who loc their hair without knowing any reasons why their ancestors may have loc’d theirs…the situation is different because our hair locs naturally. if uncombed for a few months, our hair will loc – that is with daily washing and without changing the texture or adding beeswax or knotting the hair. the situation for a white-identified person who does this to their hair have a plethora of separate, mostly negative, implications. this is why it has, accurately, been associated with Black-identified people.

    i have no issue with someone who has straight hair having dreads who understands and knows the reasons why people do it, and do it with that knowledge in mind. but 99% of the time, this is not the case.

    1. Hello, I just felt like I needed to point out some things for clarification:

      In so-called “Hindu” traditions dreadlocks (jata) are worn by both sexes, even though it is true that most people who would go to India or the areas surrounding it would probably never see a women wearing jata. There are female sadhus (ascetics), called sadhvis who wear jata, but there aren´t many. My point was that this tradition is not a gender-related thing, both men and women can participate. Nowadays, female naga sadhvis (nagas are naked ascetics) most likely wear clothes because of general opinion shifting to public female nakedness being not ok… Male sadhus can still walk around in the public only wearing ashes, with their dicks wrapped around swords, or any kind of thing they might prefer or want to demonstrate, but this is not so common in modern times; they also wear clothes most of the time and only go naked for a Kumbh Mela or some other important occasion. Most go sort of half-way through by wearing loincloths or such.

      It is true that in these kinds of traditions one would most likely be initiated into a lineage which might require having jata, or at least have the option to get jata if one wants to (or what one´s characteristics determine). Also one´s guru might have a strong impact on what the disciple looks like… For example, a white American-born human who gets initiated into certain sects in India might be required to grow jata, or granted the possibility to grow jata, even though they could grown them before. More often than not it is simply one possibility, and it is not required but may be done if wanted. Maybe one wants to emulate Shiva or believes the jata has some practical/spiritual function. One might be required or allowed to emulate Adi Shankaracharya in appearance, who was bald, as is the case with the “head” of Juna Akhara, which is the largest sadhu sect.

      I have to point out that some people in India let their hair grow into jata naturally but most of the time it is done by some other method such as twisting and/or applying certain substances into the hair. Most of the time jata are at minimum pulled apart from each other as to not get one huge lump of hair instead of the sort of jata that Shiva has for example (thin locks coiled on top of the head).

      One important thing is also that Sadhus are comprised of various sects and sub-sects and might have very varied rules or recommendations about clothing, food, hair, behavior etc. I believe the same can be said about Rastas, even though there are not so many different sects, but there are still different traditions.

      And what about the origins of Rastafarianism? Jamaica was a colony of the United Kingdom from about 1800 to the 1960s, and at the same time India was controlled by the UK up to 1947, and people were transported from India to Jamaica. This has some connections to certain things concerning Rastafarianism. Some examples: Collie (Kali) weed, dreadlocks (jata), the word “Ganja”, ritualized smoking of marijuana (ganja) from a certain ritual instrument (chalice in Rastafarianism, chilum in India). Of course, I am not saying that Rasta=Sadhu because there are also many differing elements, but I am just trying to point out that sometimes the origins of some things are more multicultural than some people want to believe. The situation in Jamaica was that of people from many different traditions and origins mixing together. And where did the jata come from to India? Did they invent it on their own (everything is not always linked, people come up with things by themselves also) or did it possibly come from some different land or tradition (maybe Africa)? Nobody knows exactly.

      I believe that in every culture there are remnants and pieces of traditions that come from other cultures, if you trace the culture back in time long enough. So is there any use in trying to pinpoint a certain style of hair, regardless of the reason why one wears it, to a certain ethnic group or even to a certain type of hair? From one point of view this kind of thinking is useless, because people are individuals and their reasons are different. But from another point of view I understand the feeling some people have of their culture getting taken away from them and possibly used in different contexts. This is happening very visibly in some “yoga” movements today who still want to use the word “yoga” but have differed radically from the original meaning of the word. Their techniques and so on might be valid, of course, even if they had nothing to do with the originals, but the name is still original. I believe that when something is based on something, but over time begins to drift away from the original, it would be useful to start calling it something else as to not create more misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the word “yoga” has a LOT of commercial potential nowadays… And from what I have understood, Rastafarianism is facing a sort of similar problem due to Bob Marley´s name being so famous… It is being used as a marketing tool. And take Bob Marley for example: I thought his allegiance went to the Twelve Tribes of Israel, which is not exactly all that Rastafarianism is. After all, the Twelve Tribes of Israel is only one of the “Mansions of Rastafari”. There are other groups that are not so much represented in the media, even though for example “Bobo Shanti”, or “Bobo Ashanti” is getting more visibility due to Sizzla for example, who is a dancehall artist who belongs to the sect. And here is another thing, even if it is only linguistic, that is similar to something Indian: the word Shanti means peace in Hindi and Sanskrit, and Ashanti means basically the opposite, as in not peace… But, ashanti was also the name of a tribe in Africa whose heritage Bobo Ashanti claims. I don´t know if they generally know of the linguistic closeness. I also think this “one love” thing is confusing and is partially created in the media; not all Rastafarians are peaceful… The “one love” thing seems to me to be more of a stereotypical construction.

      So, in conclusion I think it is useless to disrespect white people with dreadlocks or western “yoga” gurus because of their race or place of birth. It is sometimes useful to question people who call themselves something they are not. My point being that these kinds of situations have to be assessed situation by situation and there is no possible solution to come from disrespecting people by their looks only. You have to know the motives behind each individual´s appearance before you are sort of “qualified” to question it… At least that is what I believe.

      Thank you for reading my thoughts on this, best regards to all regardless of your belief systems or appearances!

      Ganesh Das

      1. And also, I would like to add that my hair would be in jata if my living environment was a place where I would not get highly stereotypical assumptions because of my appearance. Many people in my country seem to think that a person with dreadlocks is a junkie, or has far left political opinions, listens only to bob marley, is lazy etc… I wish I will be strong enough one day to get through all the shit that comes along with having dreadlocks in Finland… Even though for me they would be jata, not dreadlocks, because I do not identify with Rastafarianism on so many levels. Rastas are ok to me, though, I only discriminate those who discriminate 🙂

  21. Well, I would never wear my hair in locs. I would feel uncomfortable. And yes – I would feel strange because I don’t intrinsically ascribe to anything spiritual that would inspire me to do this with my hair.
    Yes – you know -I understand where you might be coming from. Out of compassion because I think when white people “conquer” a land – or dominate a people and a culture – yes I think a lot of people’s cultures have been destroyed the way Rome and the Christian church has done to peoples as well in history.
    For one – I am very saddened by the story of the Native Americans here in this country. I think it is awful what happened to them, and I think Andrew Jackson was a mean creep. So, I am not going to wear Native American dress and walk around and think I am cool – I don’t know if that has ever helped them – the damage is done – and it is pretty much too late. So I can tell you that if you feel that is a part of African culture, and you feel that is is hurtful when whites do it, because after all, it was their culture – and color that have oppressed people of color for centuries – well, then you have a right to your feelings.
    To wipe out a person’s ability to clearly trace all their roots – to take people away from their homeland and families – yes it’s evil and barbaric. People do it to animals, and do it to other people.
    I am thankful I am growing into a person who tries not to be like that. I can’t help being a white person, because that was how I came out of the womb, but I think I can understand what you are saying and I understand how that could upset you.
    And yes, I am a she – it’s ok. Thanks for letting me share.

  22. To end racisim we need to share cultrul differences. White people dont wear there hair like that, thinking it upsets african americans, they wear it cuz they like it. Why classify anything for one or the other. By doing so you are enforcing and prolonging what we want gone, racisim. I like dreadlocks wish I could have them, I am “white” but not. No one is one race nemore. In the future the world will be so mixed you want be able to xlaim anything but American or what country you arw from. It thats makes you upset does it make u upset to see interacial relationships? I love black women, I think they are beautiful. Iam not trying to offend anyone, but we cant set rules to what one race or another race can do or what is acceptible.

  23. While I can understand how certain things could be misinterpreted, I fail to see the logic behind it. I am a 25 year old white vegetarian theraveda buddhist whom has dreadlocks. I have dreads because I like the style. That is what it is. A STYLE. Who cares? I have been a veggie for 11 years, and I believe highly in ahimsa… To the point of having it tattooed on my arm. I do not understand how people can become so irked by different people dressing a certain way. Does it effect you or your life in any way? No. Every person in this world is different. If someone wants to tattoo their eyeballs, good for them. I would not choose that path, but who am I to judge their path? Oh, and believe me when I say that “white” people do not have it easier than anyone else. If some do, it is because they were either born into money or they busted their butt to be successful. I am poor as hell fiscally, but I know that having dreadlocks or tattoos or green eyes or no color in my melatonin… Doesnt make me a bad person, or an “elusive racist” or anything other than just differwnt than you. Dont be so quick to categorize people.

    1. @jamiroqaigurl3000: How is it any different for a girl whose hair has natural kink and does not grow long to get straight hair weaved in? That is not natural for them. But it is not discriminated against. I don’t agree that having dreadlocks and being white makes you a racist. Thinking your race is superior would make you a racist. Thinking that a white person does not deserve the “privilege” of having their hair a certain way because it is reserved is ignorant. A person that does not know about the extensive history of a hairstyle does not make them a racist. It makes them uninformed. Perhaps I am not the one who should be reading the responses in this article.

      1. I can understand how you could be offended with the knowledge you have of the history, but you really cannot be mad at someone for not knowing it would be offensive. I seriously doubt that any white person has specifically loced their hair to be specifically disrespect any race or creed. I certainly did not.

      2. However, I feel I mudt share that Druids, the shamans and mystics of my celtic ackground, wore locs and wraps not only to intimidate warriors, but they believed that they kept the spiritual soul from escaping the head

    2. Man, you need to check your privilege at the door. FYI, it’s already been explained in great detail by other commentator how dreads are not just a style.

      “How is it any different for a girl whose hair has natural kink and does not grow long to get straight hair weaved in? That is not natural for them. But it is not discriminated against.”

      … Sigh. I don’t even know why I have to explain this. We live in a society that not only values and promotes Eurocentric norms of beauty but also denigrates the aesthetics of other cultures (particularly, Black people). Contrary to what you might believe, a racial hierarchy still exists. And, in order for whiteness to maintain its’ “superiority” blackness must act as a diametrical opposition. So, what’s at play when a girl with natural kink weaves/perms her hair is not at all the same when a person who is white dreads her.

      1. It is the same thing. Also, you just contradicted your own stance. Black women choose to do their hair that way because they want their hair a certain way that does not come naturally. It is a STYLE. If I were to get offended by that, I could say it is racist or something a like, but it would be very narrow minded and just not fact, point blank.

      2. It is the people who keep breathing luife into racism that are keeping it alive. You can find something in anything if you look hard enough. I am not racist, nor prejudiced.. Never have been, never will be. But my ancestors put a permanent smear on my skin tone. My having dreads, or listening to rasta music or rap or whatever has nothing to do with skin color to me. Its just what I like. If you have a problem with that, you may be the “privileged racist”, not me.

    3. If you ever get that tattoo, then don’t go to Sri Lanka. Its disrespectful and illegal to have tattoos like that.

  24. I agree with you, Kristen. You don’t get born of a particular religion or culture, you ALWAYS appropriate, no matter who you are. Yes, I’m white, I’m Australian, and while I understand the importance of understanding something before you do it, I don’t see the big hoo-haa.

    Should we not eat curry because we don’t understand the culture and history behind it? Not happening in this house!

    Thanks for all the well informed opinions guys, very fascinating.

  25. I think people should realize that despite race everyone is HUMAN! Stop creating lines and walls between people who have different skin tones, different hair textures.. The variety of human beings is a thing of beauty…. I’d also like to add that racism wasn’t just the whites against blacks. Africa is a freaking continent! Had all of Africa’s people stuck together and fought against the opression from the start, there’d be no black and white racism crap…. The whole point of history is to learn… not hold grudges and spit out so called reasons to justify hate! There is no reason for hate… no one grows from it and only hurt people and hurts feelings are the result. It sucks that racism ever existed…. Right til this day it’s very real, I won’t pretend it isn’t. But no one chooses to be white or black so why try and hurt someone for NOT being a stereotype of their race? Why not admire them if their doing it simply because they appreciate the culture or because they feel it’s a thing of beauty? Why should anyone have to explain why they live their life to anyone? Who here on earth is GOD? If no one here is God no one has the right to judge. We are all brothers and sisters because we are all human. Oh and btw if white people don’t wash their hair it gets oily and will NOT loc. They can achieve locs by using wool hats, crochet needles, etc. If people want to embrace what is looked down unto by many to show their indifference to the way HUMAN BEINGS were treated why not appreciate the support and the courage it takes to do so?

  26. John Butler isn’t ‘white’ or ‘Northern European’, he’s Ashkenazim ( a group more notorious for wearing dreadlocks that standard WASPs) – just saying.

  27. This author is a rascist cunt. Dreadlocks have been sported by euro (aka white people) tribesman long before Rastas or Africans were even an identifiable peoples outside of their own communities. There’s Roman currency showing Caeser sporting dreads. Greek aristocracy had locks during the draft of Solom if they weren’t bald as fk. It has nothing to do with assimilation or privilege or appropriation, and you are narrow minded as fuck for even spouting such nonsense..

    1. actually, i think it’s been shown that what Europeans had their hair in were BRAIDS, not loc’d hair. if Julius Caesar “sported dreads”, why would he describe the Celts hair, upon seeing them, as having “snake-shaped hair” (as if it was something odd)? so it isn’t likely that his hair was loc’d, it was more and likely in braids that he maybe did as such for special events. but do please explain why every depiction of him (including statues made of him during his lifetime) show a short cropped haircut? as i said, this does not prove that the Celts’ hair was loc’d (this being the only shred of “proof” white dreadlocked individuals have clung). it was more and likely in braids. but please do provide some sources of Greek aristocracy having loc’s.

      the only way one can even think to say that this topic has nothing to do with assimilation or privilege is if you have no knowledge of history or realities existent in the US today. Europeans who colonized the Americas were not wearing their hair in locs until they saw Black people’s hair like such. and only that started around the middle of last century. it was not some tradition that everyone who identifies as “white” today was doing for all of their history. and furthermore, being white does not mean that you descend from Greeks or Romans. Rome colonized the rest of Europe. know your history.

    2. What if I told you, the Greeks weren’t ‘white’ and that they have only been portrayed that way? A lot of ‘ancient’ statues showing white Greeks are fake. There are plenty of descriptions of the Greeks from various sources clearly describing black / mixed race peoples, even artwork, and artifacts. Check out Google sometime.

      The more you know.

  28. Thank you Breeze for writing a beautiful, peace-bringing, and well-thought out article. I very much appreciate hearing all of your thoughts from all the perspectives you shared in the article. I have thought about these specific things and do not really have anyone to speak with about them — or anyone whose opinion I truly trust as coming from a mindful and fully understanding place when it comes to privilege, particularly racial privilege, so I really appreciate hearing (reading) your perspective, and it definitely helps push my thought process.

  29. I like what Bell Hooks said about white people ‘refusing to see their own racism’ and ‘thinking of themselves as ‘non-racist.’ Too many times over and over again white people do ignore the racism that is clear to the black/brown yet whites tend to ignore or push the weight of their racist parents, friends, co-workers, professors, etc. off by rebellion.

    Dreadlocks were called dreadlocks because whites referred to the hairstyle as dreadful (in more modern cultural times). The history behind locks for whites wearing and appropriating them is they were adopted from the Moors back when the Moors brought style, inventions, sciences, riches, organizations, and such to Celtic culture and other European cultures. Thus, many during that time ‘locked’ their hair appropriating with the Moors of that ancient time… Locks date back to ancient historical times which originated from Africans, Moorish peoples, people with dark skin and kinky/curly hair, as seen by many African descendants.

    Nothing to be alarmed by, but let’s really look at what the Author is saying above. She pointed this out, brought it to our attention. I think in our current melting pot culture which has a deeply rooted history in colorization and racism in America, she is asking a valid question, all the same with Bell Hooks mentioning in the quote above ‘whites trying to identify with the oppressed.’ From my personal experience and opinion, I think whites who wear locks a) either like the look or b) see it as a way to show their contribution to diversity by standing out. Not necessarily trying to identify with African culture or Tribalism, but to stand out as to look different amongst their traditional whiteness. I think it might be a way for them to show their rebellion to white society. I think this is what Bell Hooks might be referring to.

    As for Africans to pursue Buddhism, I don’t think it warrants appropriation on Asian culture, as Buddhism predates Western historical ideologies behind Buddhism. As Buddha himself was African with the knotted hair and African Features as many of the world’s Buddhist sites and figures clearly show. Asians and Africans are people of color, no appropriation needed when they are both oppressed people in our western globalized racist society.

    Lastly, I want to point out that Africans and folks of the African Diaspora will always be followed, we are the root of the mother. Am I annoyed with whites wearing dreads? Not at all, I take it as flattery and with a grain of salt. Ask many why they wear dreads and they can never tell you this deeply, as to why. So smile everyone!

  30. This was a really interesting and informative discussion until geoff veered off into inappropriateland. Geoff, your comments about Rome and Greece are perfectly acceptable (I’m not confirming that they’re true, but they’re totally a fine thing to post here). Even arguing that some of what Breeze originally wrote is racist and telling us why you think that is ok. But to call her a racist cunt is totally out of line. You can’t possibly want to connect with and learn from someone if your first sentence goes all the way to this sexist and misogynistic insult, and if you’re not looking to talk things through an think about them deeply, then you have no place on this site. If you do, maybe you want to think about what it means to hurl an insult like this in the context of a discussion on racism and beauty politics.

  31. I really enjoyed the post and at the same time feel an overwhelming sense of my own ignorance….I recognize that I come from extreme privilege and really try to keep it in check.

    This post does have a personal connection to me…

    My little sister a few years ago decided to become a gypsy as I like to joke. But seriously she lives on the road with her dogs, is a dumpster diver, does bizarre artistic stuff with roadkill like making hats (shes also a vegetarian so she doesnt hurt them – just is very resourceful). But as one could imagine, hygiene is not on her to do list. She doesnt shave, rarely showers, and usually wears one pair of clothes for an extended period of time. AND she has (usually mohawk) dreadlocks. I saw the comment about a white woman having dreads bc shes sick of beauty standards or whatever, but I don’t really think that is my sister because it does come from her lifestyle.

    This is the thing. I love my lil sis dearly, but I do get frustrated by her lack of awareness about her own privilege. She didnt finish highschool although she is extremely resourceful and street smart. But she has this attitude that her lifestyle is the best and kinda looks down on us for not living that way. This where I get so mad at her complete disregard for how goddamn privileged she is to have my mom be able to help her and really have a place to go if she was truly in need…and thats just the surface of her (white) privilege. Now I know my sister is a very loving person that is not racist/xenophobic and interacts with all walks of life in her experiences.

    But I guess I was curious about what people thought about her dreadlocks? I think it’s much more complicated than I can wrap my head around because I know she has no clue about the history of dreadlocks or that she appropriated them…I mean I had no idea, and I do take in a lot of independent media that discusses privilege/racism/feminism, so I am somewhat versed about privilege in general.

  32. Quite a long post and I mostly skimmed, but it seems to me that most people are way, WAY too concerned over race, and the root of this seems to be hurt…being made to feel invalid in one way or another. It seems to be an obsession in our society. We need to start seeing people as individuals rather than colors; what most have is not a healthy mindset. It is almost understandable since we’ve have had years of conditioning by our closet racist society. To the blacks who are opposed to whites wearing dreads, are you also opposed to blacks chemically straightening their hair or wearing wigs/extensions/weaves to where it appears like natural causcasian hair?

    Also, alot of people seem to be under the impression that dreadlocks were only worn by blacks a few hundred years ago. Bob Marley or a stereotypical rasta is what sprouts in the minds of most Americans when dreadlocks are mentioned, but dreadlocks were and still are also worn by indian sages, vikings, buddhists etc. I’m half white and half middle eastern; though I appear mostly white…and I will wear dreads if I please…anyone who looks down on me for that have their own set of mental issues to work out before worrying about other people’s hairdos.

    1. Amber,

      I don’t understand your question about black people chemically straightening their hair in the context of the USA, at least. There is a rich history of, and social science reports about, black women chemically altering their hair over 100 years ago because a white racist society did not want to hire black women who had natural hairstyles; instead, black women were, and still are to a large degree, expected to chemically straighten their hair and poison their bodies so they can look more ”white” in terms of hair features and secure employment. I disagree that this is the same thing as when ‘white’ people in the USA at least, decide to dreadlock their hair.

      Thanks for joining the dialogue.


      1. If I ask the next black woman why she straightens her hair would she say, “because it is better for my job?” Whilst this may be true to some extent I believe whole heartlessly she’s just doing it because she likes the style. Many black women let their hair grow naturally now. Regardless of reasons behind why someone would straighten their hair or don fake lashes and wear fake hair or dread their hair it all boils down to personal choice. If one is against white people dreading their hair they should be against blacks straightening their hair.

      2. Germanic / viking and Celt tribes were also known to have dreaded hair. Just because it is centuries ago does not mean it’s not part of their culture. Just a lot of white people have lost what their true culture is.

        And yes this is fact.
        It’s anthropology 101.

    2. Yes!!! I agree. I have dreads and I won’t apologize. It’s as if they think because I am white I have to stick to a strict rule of not crossing cultures. Yet they can do whatever because a bunch of white people I am not related to did some fucked up things in the past. I can tract my family back to Ireland and Jewish Germans. The end. My family owned no humans. They did their work themselves. People can get over it and need to stop being so offended and bitching about whatever upsets them. No one cares what color you are. The ones whining about the dreads on whites are actually being racist here.

  33. I am a buddhist who used to have dreadlocks. I know i may look white but I am actually hispanic. I do not deny my privilege of being light-skinned. I do not like however, how many people complain about white people having dreadlocks. That irks me. Dreadlocks are in every culture from shamans in ancient mezo-america to sadus in India, Nepal and Tibet. Jamaicans were introduced to dreadlocks or jata by Indian slaves that came to Jamaica from England and introduced them to Ganja (a Sanskrit word). Anyone can be a Buddhist or have dreadlocks. It is all about respect and being mindful.
    Peace ☯

  34. You’re not because that’s not YOUR culture. These are just trends and religious practices you stole for yourself because your people HAVE no culture. i agree, if you’re not a Rastafarian, not of a Indonesian or african tribe why the hell are you practicing their customs as a FASHION statement. Not only do you lack creativity and originality, you also lack CULTURAL RESPECT. You are devaluing ancient customs into a fucking trend.

    You’re all a bunch of barbaric cry babies, terrorizing people for hundreds o years, destroying the world with pollution and deforestation then taking from those persons your ancestors enslaved, rapped, tortured and called animals for YOUR OWN. It’s the ultimate cultural disrespect in the world. I understand what that woman is feeling, but you never will because you’re just a prissy little white child living off the land their fathers killed for, in your own little world pitying yourself. Oh boohoo. Get over yourself

    1. B-girl,

      Who is this post in response to?

      Not all ‘white’ looking people have ancestors that raped, killed, colonized, etc. Just like not all non-white people have come from lineages that were non-exploitative. Though ‘white’ looking people in the USA benefit from structural whiteness-as-the-norm (whether they want to or not), how does this help the dialogue to make the claims that you have?


    2. Really……..”White people” have no culture? You are obviously another uneducated moron! What you stated – “your ancestors enslaved, raped, tortured” is exactly what has been happening to my peoples for over 800 years! (White Irish) Also, my ancestors had “gruaige nathair” or “dreads” as you say, 2000 years before the Rastafari Movement existed! Read up on Irish slavery in the Americas and then tell me we haven’t suffered! We are lucky to even exist as a people at all! As for your “All Whites are privileged” outlook……. That proves my point that you are a moron, because only a moron would make such a sweeping generalization! Hunger, Poverty and War do not discriminate! They do not care about colour! WHO ARE YOU TO SAY WHO HAS SUFFERED AND WHO HAS NOT??? I also strongly believe that it is you who should “Get over yourself” as you obviously have no clue as to what you are talking about!

  35. So. Because I’m white, I should watch what I do. Because I chose to be white ya know. Wherever my spirit came from, I chose to go to a white family. Yes. that’s what happened. And now because I am white, i should watch what I do even though I remember going without food growing up and was abandoned by my parents…. Yet my whiteness means I have better opportunity. Haha. I like to know things. I like to find history of things. But I guess since people at a cafe can’t possibly know what I’ve learned since they aren’t mind readers and don’t know my story, they’re right to judge and assume everything anyone does outside of their race is wrong if it happens to come from other cultures. Sounds like a bunch of racism tome. Ps: I’ll keep my dreads. Hawaii doesn’t mind your color or hairstyle haha

  36. I found this page when thinking about what I’m going to do with my hair if I have more children. I’m German, English & Native American by ancestry, but I guess you could say my phenotype is like “Mariah Carey” white (however you interpret that, because I don’t even understand it myself). I spent at least five years in a white, upper middle class school as a kid… which sort of sucked. Because my hair texture isn’t “white”. Around forth grade my hair kinked up in the most serious way and I was called everything under the sun. Brillo pad, Woolhead, etc. For awhile, I ironed my hair with an ironing board everyday. Once a kid said “Oh my god, you actually ARE pretty”. Which was awkward, but goodness I clung tight to that iron then! After several years, I managed to learn to work with my hair, though it had a life of its own, and my hair turned to my glory. Now I can do all kinds of things with my extremely thick, unruly, and bodacious hair. I have one child now, and earlier I was thinking “I don’t really want to deal with all of this hair if I have more than two kids.” Dreadlocks are the obvious answer. But goodness, it is disheartening to be aware of all of the negative connotations I’d have to contend with! I’d certainly do it anyway, if that’s the path I go on, but it really is sad that I’d get so many judgments passed on me for it. When my dad was a kid, his mother took him to a regular white barber shop, and he got made fun of and they had no idea how to cut his hair. He hasn’t gone to a shop since, and he’s 54. He just stands in the mirror and cuts it himself, and doesn’t really do a good job! Two days ago, I picked my daughter up from daycare. She is a two year old white girl with long, thick, unruly blond hair. This particular day was 80-some degrees outside and very humid, and her hair was (adorably) all over the place. Her teacher informed me that the next day was “crazy hair day.” I said, “What should we do with your hair tomorrow, baby?” Her teacher said, “she can just wear it like that.” I thought, here we go again. Anyone who is different from ‘you’ is a target, I suppose. I guess the moral of this story is, you’re never going to make everyone happy. So do what makes you happy.

  37. If somebody’s hair style pisses you off you’re an idiot. black, white, Asian, mexican, you’re an idiot. Judge somebody by whats in their head, not what’s covering it.

  38. obvious ignorance is obvious. people just have nothing better to do with their time than complain about what other people are doing with theirs sometimes. its pathetically ironic.

  39. furthermore, I am white and have had locks for over a year. they were a testament to my patience. Also I may add that locks (and not cutting them off) was referenced in the Bible in Numbers, and even egyptians have been depicted with locked hair, and mummies dug up with wigs of locks. I’m sorry black people, but other people have been locking their hair even longer than you, and this is nothing more than an uneducated case of reverse racism.

    1. I think you missed the point of the article or blog or whatever this is. This is not a condemnation of all whites with dreads. Well I do not condemn all whites with dreads. Just the fake ass posers. I think that is at the heart of this. If you are getting dread because you think they are just cool. Then you are lame. Also I think it’s thing where people are not learning how to care for their locs they just don’t wash them and let them mat up. Then calling that nonsense locs. No that is a bastardization of dread locs.

  40. Your all basically a bunch of “Politically Correct” educated racists which makes you way more dangerous then most people. Unbelievable underlying racial tones within this article and the posts that follow. Makes me sick to my stomach that such focus is oriented on meaningless crap.

  41. Egyptians, caananites, and majority of ancient folks were black. There are some who contend that so we’re the Celts.
    Www. Realhistoryww .com

  42. My hair is the way it is in honour of my Celtic ancestors! Not all Celts today have “gruaige nathair” but there are a few who still honour the tradition of the Laoch Ceilteach! This type of hair has roots (excuse the pun) in many different cultures and goes back thousands of years and the sooner you realize that and stop judging people by the colour of their skin then that is when you will grow as a person and realize that you don’t know everything! What is it to you if a White person has dreads or nathracha or what have you? We all have culture and heritage regardless of colour! Some of our Brothers and Sisters may have lost their way so therefore it is up to us to keep tradition alive! We need to learn to respect, not just our own culture but all cultures! Síocháin.

  43. If a white person rocking dreads is appropriation, then do you consider it appropriation when a black girl wheres weave?

    1. I do, but its appropriation arising out of a history of being devalued by the dominate culture and to some degree self-hatred.

  44. I like this article a lot. I’m white and for years I have admired the dreadlock hairstyle. I spend a good bit of time researching the history and the spirituality behind it. I would really like to dread my hair but I’m afraid of coming off as racist or ignorant.

    1. Who cares what they think. Get your dreads. I am black and I am thinking about getting dreads. I have done no research on the spirituality or whatever. I just stopped relaxing my hair about 8 years ago. It was this black power thing I was doing but my afro is so hard to maintain. I say all that to say you are probably more qualified to sport the hair-do then me or other people who have then that are of color. NO one thinks they are ignorant. I say do it.

  45. Of course it’s cultural appropriation. They themselves don’t have a culture, unless you consider thievery and genocide culture. Just as white (or blanco, blanc, blank) is the absence of color, White is the absence of race, and so it should be no surprise that Whiteness is the absence of culture. Also, a “White” accent is the lack of any other accent, while an English accent is nothing more than a snobbish, stuffy version of White monotone. This is why when a Black or Hispanic person speaks in a flat voice, this is “talking White”.

    And to those white folk who say “No, BLACK is the absence of color”, that is a lie you have been taught by White “scientists”, the same White “scientists” who thought injecting people with plutonium was a bright idea . BLACK is the absorption of light, and thus, color, while WHITE is the result of an object not absorbing light, and thus, color. Black is what light looks like when ALL of it has been absorbed, just like mixing all six paint pigments together gives you black.

    There is no

    1. I really cannot do anything but laugh! White people gave no culture? I mean, really?
      It really shocks me how many Americas claim to be ‘enlightened’ and knowledgable and yet don’t bother to look outside the US!
      Look at Ireland’s history. Or Britain’s, or Poland’s, or Germany’s, or Russia’s. The list could go on and on and on.
      America – you are aware that people outside your own history and culture exist right?!? And not just the history that you found to back your own point?!?
      Please don’t bring down the tone of this article, especially when the author has obviously gone out of their way to explain their feelings towards it in an honest, non-insulting way.

  46. Hello. I just wanted to point out that dreads do not belong to any one race or culture; in ancient times all different races wore them. In India the holy men wear them. Please look this up if you do not believe me. Wikipedia and dreadlockssite.com white people have been wearing them for just as long as any race.

  47. We are all people. We are one. Each individual should be expressive in a way that makes them feel beautiful. And all others should be respectful. We are all children of mother earth.

  48. This whole conversation is racist end of, and it is perpetuating racism, It is not only white people whom are racist as this thread shows!! what we all are is HUMAN and I do not care what shade your skin is or how you wear your hair, your choice of music or the language you speak!

  49. Well you dont see me bitch’N when U black folks get your lips peirced and ride skate bords and listen to Rock Metal Alternative and techno .I have seen black teens dressed goth or punk and it dont bother me…sounds like u mite just hate whites!!!! PS Im Dutch witch is a white race and I got dreads cuz I think they are pretty and look better on women …… Not to mention black people in the US all have white last names and most got white first names…but u dont hear me complaining…your just a white hater..shhaaaame on U!!!!

  50. And another thing no white person ever said black is the absence of color, if U mix lots of different colored paint it turns black, and black people dont even got black skin its really dark brown, and white people don’t got white skin its light peach or olive… And Many Vikings had dreads because their hair never could be brushed and just dreaded naturally …

  51. Really? Us white folk can sport dreads, tattoos and whatever else we’d like. If you have a problem with that, I’d suggest you move somewhere secluded where you don’t have to see it because the trend isn’t going anywhere. I’m tired of the racial stereotypes that come from blacks who constantly complain about white people being racist toward them. Hypocrites! Wahhhh your life is so hard because you’re black and your great great great grandparents were mistreated (which yes, that is awful and unforgivable- but it’s not our fault… It’s 2013, get over it!!!!) Byw the guy in that pic is HOT =0

  52. I think most of ya’ll leaving comments on here a little too salty!!! haha don’t worry if non-blacks try to rock dreads, most of them look retarded anyways….let em’ look dumb!!! Imitation is one of the best forms of flattery.

    As a matter of fact – I’m growing my hair out right now in the effort to twist up some dreads later. I play college football in Alabama and I’ve always liked dread heads – a lot of people from THE ROCK (Rock Hill, South Carolina – where i grew up) had dreads & i always wanted to get me some.

    I’m white but my hair is pretty damn course……not nappy but still its pretty close haha. In high school my dad used to have a big ole’ afro when he hooped – had the head band and everything. Anyways – our hair is extremely thick and curly – dark brown.

    Anyways about the whole racial thing…. I feel ya’…… then again I don’t – I’m not black so I don’t really know “the struggle” or where you’re coming from – haha Its easy for me to say this, but we should all just forget about people’s skin tones cause its really not important. To be honest, the majority of all my friends in college are black……one of the reasons is yall can be so much cooler!!! Same thing back home….white people can be so uptight and awkward ….its weird but then again everyone is different.

    I guess what I’m tryna say is… if yall gonna have a negative attitude about it – its just going to make the situation worse. Dont get salty — just laugh your ass off at the fuxk ups of society…lol

    Anyways—I’d appreciate if some of yall could give me some feedback on what ive written and also WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE DREADS – Deuces

  53. Anytime I hear this argument, I feel very conflicted as well. As a young, white woman that has wanted dreads, wanted to do yoga, wanted an assortment of these “hip” things because of the social pressures I felt as a teen, my first thought is “well I’m not a bad person for wanting these things, am I?”. I’ll admit, it has taken a lot of growing up to realize that my thought alone is inherently racist and while I might not be a “bad person” for wanting those things, I am, however, very privileged for not being able to refer to dreads or yoga as anything other than a “thing”. To me, they’re part of a trend. They hold no significance in my life, and that is a problem if I would wish to practice them. Part of white privilege is that we can be lazy. My identity does not have to be made by personal, spiritual or cultural events. Not only do I gain praise if I wear “bed head” as a style, I have the power to call a POC’s natural hair “nappy” as a joke. It’s these things that disgust me about my privilege, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have it. While dreads may have come from other cultures, how does that make it any better? It is still appropriation, and it still makes people who actually hold their culture close feel like we’re (whites) making a mockery of something that’s important to them. I think this is the most important part of not only this article, but the argument in general. The United States is founded on cultural appropriation, but that doesn’t mean we have to continue. I know I’m still learning. I still get hurt when I find out I’m doing something wrong, but I’m trying to grow.

    1. Whether people are doing dreads for style or religious purposes is no one else’s business but their own. It is sad in a way to see others religious cultural icons be fashion, like the bindi third eye or the goths wearing crosses when theyre not christian. But at the same time if a bunch of people get together that are white with dreads and they feel oneness and spritualness and share that hairstyle, what does it matter? many of us are still searching for ourselves and in a way it’s a wonderful aspect of this multicultural nation we live in, regardless of economic privilege. We may be different races and different cultures but to broaden oneself outside of your skin color and upbringing is truly a growing experience. Bob marley, would he care if I were a white woman with dreads? Rastafarians get their dreadlocks commands from the bible, which is for all humans not just black people. They would say Jah loves all and accepts all. I have gotten more complements on my white dreads by black people than white. (Maybe bc im the minority in this predominantly black and latino town) One black woman was rude to me about them but I was kind and we ended up having a great conversation that ended with her hugging me. I may have appropriated by definition and being disrespectful to others in others eyes but as marley said, judge not before you judge yourself. The road of life is rocky and you may stumble too so before you talk about me someone else is judging you.

      Do what you think is right for you and not for others. If they have a problem with it it is their problem, not yours, and if they’re vocal about it perhaps it can lead to both of you growing and appreciating each other even more. My reasons for my dreads are both Christian, fashion, and to fulfill other personal needs. If someone asks, I tell them. If another handsome dreaded black man asks me to shake them then I will and ill admire his. Yes this is a country of appropriating, that’s why we r called the melting pot, but what would a life look like for a white woman who had a life empty of all cultural appropriations, just to not be viewed as a white privileged racist? What food would you eat ? What kind of shoes would you wear? What language would you speak? What color would you wear at your wedding or flowers would you have ? Cultural appropriation doesn’t only exist in the privileged either. Historically it is applied to all cultures and races, not just negatively to the ones with the upper hand.

  54. That was the longest rant of unnecessary bullshit ever! Just live your F’ing life. I would hate to have any of the crap you went off about in my head. People are people styles are styles. I don’t stab myself in the head for putting on a robe after a shower. Or worry that someone will think I’m trying to be Iranian cause I’m wearing pants. Your life sucks! Be who you are wear what you like or nothing at all and stop thinking/talking shit about people you know absolutely nothing about. You’re so ignorant it’s ridiculous! Black people didn’t even invent dreadlocks you fucking Vegan idiot. Read a fucking book or research shit in life before you begin you entire negative thought process. Good luck with your soul searching. I hope this pisses you off and you begin to realize that by people adopting different cultures and they’re beliefs or traditions or styles we then begin to adapt as a race. The race being human not a color. People are beautiful. You got to see white people that looked unique that day and those “whites” saw some unique “blacks”. Nobody owns a style, YOU think they do but every style is one in its own because of the one that expresses it.


    1. I am a black woman and I have to agree with you. Black woman want long silky hair like our white sisters, therefore I see nothing wrong with the white man wearing dreads. It’s just hair, like who cares? Have fun with your hair now because majority of us won’t have much hair for long. Dread on white man!!!

  55. Really well written article, I have to say, since I started my journey with dreadlocks it kind of irks me that black people have such a stance that it’s only them throughout history that wore dreadlocks. I did a lot of research before starting this journey and dreads have been dated back to Roman times in 43BC. Scholars and royalty wore dreadlocks, also Celtic warriors wore dreads for intimidation purposes. Rastafarians didn’t start wearing them until the 1930s. Anyway, I think people should educate themselves before making such comments, but this is the world we live in. I don’t apply the to just dreadlocks, in all cases whether freedom or religion, style, whatever the case may be. Thanks for your time. -Kat

    1. Hey Kat, rock your dreads man who gives a s**t!! I said it before, black wear silky long weaves and slap perms in their hair for that sheek European look, so why not be happy for the white man wanting dreads. Not even going too far back in history, just recently. The awesome group Korn, who I actually listened to as a black girl in a majority white high school, they were sporting dreads long before Lil Wayne. But I guess since Lil Wayne and Lil Jon, amongst others, are popular black rappers then it is automatically a black thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love black people. Married a black man and have three black kids. But sometimes black people can make the biggest argument over nothing. Sometimes the overuse of black power can create ignorance. Rock your dreads white man!!!

  56. I personally don’t see anything wrong with it. I feel as though black women throwing a perm in their hair and seeing weave all through is simply imitating the European woman. So it cannot be a double standard here. If black woman have long silky hair, then why can’t the white man knot his hair up? My mom always said to me “people want what they can’t have.”

  57. I have a question, and I don’t think it has already been addressed because most of this feed has been about dreaded hairstyles, but I have been considering getting either “jumbo” senegalese twists or havana twists for some time. So not dreadlocks, no rasta culture references, but at the same time a traditionally african hairstyle (or I suppose ancient roman/celtic as some people above were saying… I am not of roman nor celtic decent either!). I am white, although like many other people on this thread have discussed, while I am white I am of mixed heritage. No doubt however, I benefit in some ways from “white privilege” or some equivalent, in addition to the privilege that comes from growing up in a predominantly upper-middle class area. However I am not racist either overtly or subconsciously; I strive against it! I can not stress this enough! I actively fight the racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. prevalent in my home town. Some of my closest friends are: african american, half black half white, asian (grew up in china), white, a french lesbian, etc. I tell you this only to stress that I am aware of the prejudices they face on a daily basis and which their ancestors (or in the case of my lesbian/gay friends, what other LGBT people) have faced since early human history.


    Each time I am on the brink of finding a salon and making an appointment to get havana braids I go online and somehow find a feed which makes me change my mind. I want to be clear that I’d like honest opinions, don’t hold back, but at the same time let you guys know that I have thought through the purely aesthetic parts of havana braids. I think they would suit my features and my style. So I’d prefer not receiving any unkind replies about how often white peoples’ dreads or braids are unflattering, unhygienic, etc. Aesthetically speaking I know I will like them. And unlike dreads they are not really associated with white people appropriating “rasta” culture, and perhaps similarly, unlike cornrows being associated with white people being “gangster” or being insensitive by feeling the need to return from expensive vacations in the caribbean or jamaica with cornrows. And yet.

    What I really want to know is whether havana braids would have the same result. I really, really, really do not want to offend people, and while I know I won’t offend my friends, I’m still worried. These would be purely a choice motivated by my love for how the braids look, not a social commentary or statement.

    Thoughts? Criticism? Advice?

  58. Wow…interesting opinions & comments. My parents are both Jamaican…i have chocolate brown skin & I was born in Britain. Whilst visiting a friend in italy (italian jew who also wore dread locks, piercings etc)I met an Italian rasta. My friend introduced me & told him I a from Jamaica, she also told him I had native American, African & Spanish roots. Well he became very angry & pointed at me, “you are African” . I replied I have the blood of more than 1 race running through my veins I give respect to all of my forefathers! No but, this Roman with dread locks, strawberry blond hair & blue eye insisted I was 100% African! A white man sportin dreads telling me what I am & should be! ?funny guy!

  59. I really hate it when people talk about stuff that they don’t understand !

    First off dreads are NOT black culture, they are not any culture FACT!

    There is a temple in india were the monks grow dreads from the day they are born and have been doing this for over 5 thousand years !

    Before humans invented the brush everyone had dreads, yes that means cavemen had dreads.

    Dreadlocks are formed by the hair knotting together.

    the reason dreadlocks and black people are put together is because of the rastafarian movement formed in the 1930’s, Most rasta’s are nazarite’s and do not believe in cutting hair.

    By the way i’m mixed raced and to all the people here i don’t think people should wear dreads for fassion, but people are free to have whatever hair style they want and thinking that way is disrespectful. there are bigger problems in the world !


    Image of Sadhu Dread :

  60. I’m a Black female dread. I do use the term dread and not “locker.” Anyway, personally I don’t get annoyed when I see someone of another race wearing dread. I think you are missing the point of the conversation of the two ladies as well as perhaps some others who feel “annoyed” when they see white people with dreads. The thing is even though a white person wears dreads, whether they admit it or not there is still privilege involved. That does not say that the person wants it or is proud of it: and that is what privilege is, it works as a part of a social system and has implications other than just personal preference. Their annoyance may also be the fact that white people can reintegrate into mainstream white society after cutting or sometimes while wearing dreads. The issue with appropriation of culture is not if a Black woman practices Buddhism. Most times appropriation is related to a Eurocentric world view: that something (culture) can become popular or trendy and then discarded once the fad or trend has found something else for the time being. The problem with culture is that when you belong to an oppressed group (whether in the past or contemporary) your norms, fashions, speech, adornments, behaviors are villanized by the dominant culture. Once they have convinced you it’s not good enough, eventually it becomes popular, but when you practice it, it doesn’t translate the same. The overall problem is that people’s cultures are not respected. If you tell them a practice is vile then you do it, ultimately you lied and felt envious in the beginning. However, I’m not saying all nonwhite people are genuine when they practice elements of each other’s culture but I hope this helps with explaining why those two women may have been turned off by what they saw. As I said, it doesn’t offend me because dreads have a long history but understand that what you heard was not two disgruntled middle aged women, there is history, culture, sociology, and group psychology behind that conversation. Just ask any Jamaican who wore dread back when dread were discriminated in the streets of Jamaica or Black southerners about how they feel about the Dixie flag.

  61. I am from the south and i have a rebel flag in my room and if you actually read your history its not a symbol for rascism. Its southern pride not southern prejudice. Further more i have dreads and i can promise you i get more shit about being white with dreads than anyone i know. The real irony of it is people talk about rascism and how unfair it is and you bitching about white people having dreads is rascism. I am a redneck hillbilly with beautiful dreads and im proud as shit of them. Maybe one of these we will all stop putting up more barriers between the races and show some acceptance understanding and love. Thank you and God bless.

  62. I’m a 59 year old white woman. I’m getting dreads next week. I don’t define myself as racist, appropriator or whatever the term people of differing racial backgrounds might call me because I choose to wear my hair in a style of another culture. Good grief! It’s fashion. I embrace the look on all peoples. One can analyze to death the notion of why we adorn ourselves with certain fashions or choose a spiritual path, etc. etc. etc. (yawn….yawn…yawn. Because we are all individuals, I do not judge folks and offer no analysis as to why they choose a particular fashion. I can only tell you that I’m getting dreads. I love them! I think I will look beautiful in them. I’m also Buddhist. Not white, black, green, yellow Buddhist. I am Buddhist just like some are Born Again Christians or Baptist. I follow the Buddhist precept that everything in this big beautiful Universe is connected. I don’t define myself as white. I define myself as a human being.

  63. we are all people my white skin bleeds red blood just like your colored skin does …for some one to say hey you cant do this or that becuase of you pigment is racist in its self if people do something thats out of there culture and it bothers you then you are a racist….”i have a dream that one day all men will be created equal “….i guess only some of us got that point…ill keep dreaming that dream for you doctor king untill simple people learn to free there minds

  64. I’m sorry to inform you but, my “white” ancestors wore dreads also. Please do more research into different cultures and how they also adorned dreads. Celts, Druids, Viking, African, East Indian and so many more had dreads. In seperating and saying one way to one culture infiltrates more racism than ignorance. Enlightenment is key to ending racism not seperation.

  65. Hi,
    Nice article. I read through a lot of the comments and their’s a lot of good comments on both sides of the argument over “white” people with dreads and appropriation. Though I do think that many “white” Americans adopted wearing dreadlocks during and after the 1970′s with the influence of Rastafarian culture, many cultures around the world have worn dreadlocks. It is a common practice among Hamitic people, Maasai, Semitic people of West-Asia, Indo-Europeans, Spartans, Sadhus, Turkic, Sufi Rafaees, and many others. So, to say that a “white” person is appropriating this style from black culture is somewhat misleading. In America, I would say it is highly likely that it is the case, but somewhere in the human timeline the style has been continuously appropriated. Further, anyone who follows many of the world religions strictly, would end up with a similar hairstyle. This is of course the reason for the many groups of people mentioned above wearing locks. Why the punk kids at the coffee shop are wearing them? Who knows and who cares. To think it says something about “black” people because these kids are wearing locks is a stretch. I would be interested in knowing what cultural traits “black” people have absorbed from “white” people that we can overanalyze in a forum?
    I also wanted to address the many comments in the forum over “white” privilege. In most parts of the United States, white privilege is a very, very real thing. The country and corporations are run by elite white people. However, there is also elite privilege that poor people don’t have, and their are many poor white people. Visit the Appalachian Mountains and tell me how much white privilege there is there.
    Lastly, not all “white” people came from oppressors. I come from Irish and Jewish immigrants, that came to America in the 1920′s. For anyone who didn’t know, Irish people where slaves brought to America as well. I’m not saying my Irish family were slaves, but I think it’s a point worth making. By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At that time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves. From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade. I’m not comparing Irish slavery to African slavery, but slavery is slavery, no-matter who is enslaved. My Ukrainian, Jewish grandmother had to sneak out of her country rolled up in a carpet to escape persecution. So, PLEASE lets stop lumping all “white” people together!!!
    We, as humans, really must stop causing separation from each other over such trivial matters. Black, white, red, yellow. Bald, dreads, long hair, short hair. Straight, gay, bi-sexual. We humans love to take the world and pick it apart to pieces and judge it. This only causes separation, and it’s separation that causes hate, and it’s hate that causes all the pain and suffering in the world.
    Yes, I’m “white”. I’m also bald by the way. I’m also of Irish and Ukrainian Jewish decent (I know Judaism is not a race). I’m also a twin. I’ve also dated African girls, Asian girls, Mexican girls and Caucasian girls. I like rock, folk and punk music. I also like jazz, reggae and an assortment of different world music. My point is, we are all a lot of different things. We all do things for different reasons. Sure there are a lot of people that do things in the world because it’s the trendy thing to do. There are as many “black” people wearing dreads because it’s trendy as there are “whites”. In fact, I’ve known a few “black” people that were seen as “outsiders” on visits to Africa as were “white” people. Same with American born “Mexicans” going to Mexico.
    It’s time for EVERYONE to stop judging, so that the human race can actually achieve equality for all people of the world. a

  66. actually ancient Celts and Norse wore dreadlocks as they are seen commonly not in a matte thousands of years ago, historical fact same with Celtic and Norse tattoos they are appreciating the ancient traditions and their heritage.

    1. they would tie it into a pony tail and or adorn with beads. which is easy to do with long fair hair… my fiancee has hers from her teen years “in a plastic bag” I can assure you it was in reverence to her heritage please stop acting so naive. Why else would we do it.

  67. Haha this is a joke, if a white person said something like this, it would be on the 5 oclock news and jesse jackson would be on tv in like 5 minutes. -the truth

  68. First off your too hard on yourself and other people are too hard on everyone else.I am of a mass of races. I am 5 tribes native american Haitian french german irish and Israeli. I still look like a white girl. I love having my hair braided. I dont care what others think about me. I used to thou. Braids are comfortable and functional. I am also mildly gothic but I am also a mother so when my hair is long I braid it and leave it at that.I do believe it is wrong for african americans to claim that I am not allowed to braid my hair. Hair braiding is in every culture. It is easily maintained. It kept your hair out of the way and allowed the scalp to breath. I find the last trait best because im an epileptic with a heat trigger. We should stop caring what other people wear and focus on our own happiness.
    Sincerly,will braid again.

  69. I am white and I’ve been wanting to get dreads for over 2 years now! I absolutely LOVE them! I can understand the frustration and irritation that black people have when they see white people with dreads… Because 99% of the guys & girls know, use it as a “trend” … But I am NOT like that! I don’t want to get dreads to offend or irritate, I just like how they look, and to me- it does not matter which culture came up with the whole idea first. I find that cultures “borrow” and get ideas from other cultures, that is what makes them both, different/unique but also has something in common, it can bring the two on “equal ground” … I’m not sure if that made ANY sense, but people should be able to express themselves how they feel, believe in what they think is right (religion, etc). And yes, Some white people do not do this for the right reason, simply because they think that it is “cool”… But we are not all like that, I think that the people who do it for wrong reasons look like complete fools! It is past the time of slavery and un-civilised acts, those were the people of THEN- we are the people of NOW. We should move forward and become equal on all terms! Peace is the WAY!!!*

  70. Thanks for this. I am a white woman who has a pretty dedicated Zen practice – I struggle with confusion over cultural appropriation and fear becoming complacent with my white privilege, but I feel pretty strongly that my Buddhist practice is one of the main things that allows me to open my heart and mind to all the inequality around me, the privilege and ignorance I experience, and the best ways I can help to dismantle oppressive systems and act/stand in solidarity with those who are doing such great work.

  71. I think everyone is overthinking it. People need to stop caring about what others think. I am not racist at all. The word shouldn’t even exist in my opinion because we are all the same: human beings. I think people should do and be whatever they connect with in their heart and if other people, like the 2 women in the restaraunt you were referring to, have a problem with it, well then its their problem. If they want to obsess over race and nit pick at others then fine. I understand there is still a lot of anger and hate towards white people because of the monstrosity of slavery, but I thought we were all trying to evolve past that now. We should be, but not if people can’t move past it. All their stateme ts are doing is spreading negativity and hate and slight racism towards them now, its a never ending, vicious cycle. Im not saying forgive and forget(never) but lets try and move forword making our world a more positive one;filled with love, light, and happiness.

  72. I’m white and have locks and It has been the biggest spiritual journey of my life. Regardless of race, people will look at you different when you stand out in a crowd. White people with dreads standout because its unique. I remember being told by an African American individual that my hair can never look as good as black dreads. but im not trying to make them “look good”. Now, This is what puzzles me. When people say whites are taking African American culture by sporting locks there is contradictions in some cases. If it is in African American culture to get your locs retwisted every month or however often they are done, then I am honestly not following that culture at all. My hair has naturally locked over time and in no way is retwisted. I dont go to African American salons. I learned about dreads from the fact that they looked radical on white dudes. ever since I saw them I wanted them. The other concern i have is that if black culture is to let your hair grow naturally and form dreads then I follow the culture and do it more spiritually then many black individuals. Its all individual preference. I am not one to say “we are all the human race” or “race doesn’t exist” I acknowledge race i just dont think it should define an individual. I see black men with permed straight hair, I see Asian rappers, I see Latin American yoga instructors. My dreads are apart of me. Im not on this planet to insult anyone, but I didnt get my dreads so they could be approved or disapproved of by anyone. Im just doing what I want to do. I will probably be the dude smiling when you pass and think “nauseating” thoughts and i dont care, it wont affect my day. I would encourage anyone that wonders why white people have dreads to just ask them. 9 out of 10 times they will very nice and tell you exactly why. not saying it will change anything but at least you can maybe see some personality instead of just a “stolen” hairstyle.

  73. White people have been dreadlocking their hair probably since the origin of white skin. There are historical records and images on pottery and such depicting white people from all walks of life dreadlocking their hair. When you make a big deal about something or saying anyone of any skin tone should or should not do something with their body or their hair based on skin tone alone that is just silly and just as racist as a white supremacist. We are all one species period. We ALL originate from africa Period. We all evolved from the same common ancestors so why should it matter what the melanin content of our skin is. Saying white people should not dreadlock their hair is pretty much like saying black people shouldn’t straighten their hair because that is a white person hair style. That just sounds silly, opinionated and racist. You cannot steal something that no one owns or that belongs to everyone. If you want the world to stop being racist then you first need to look within and stop yourself from being racist first and start accepting all the walks of life on this earth.

  74. I feel like white people (or anyone for that matter) can do or wear what ever. But when white girls are wearing bindis they should respect that culture and educate themselves before they stick that thing on their for head! And don’t do things if you are rascist towards tht culture. Some white people will wear dreads and hate black people. I feel a if they have no right…

  75. All hair mats when it goes without being combed….. Even straight hair. So what’s the problem? Lol its just hair. We as black people have fought to be “equal” to whites so why do we care if they let their hair loc? This is just another way that we as people are using race against each other. Lol ITS JUST HAIR.

  76. Thanks for the article. I stumbled upon it because my spouse keeps suggesting to me to dread my hair. He is African. I’m white. Of I was going to do it, I would want it professionally done and I have yet to decide. I work in Civil Rights & get pretty annoyed reading articles about cultural appropriation because to me it always emphasizes division, stereotypes & points back toward racism almost reinforcing it and making it stronger. I don’t believe we can keep assigning cultural appropriation in an integrated, global society. Go out into the world, travel, take what you love and embrace all the goodness you can, that’s living a full life. I know some of my choices challenge other people to question my professionalism, but good. Let them be challenged. Great article. Thank you.

  77. Sigh. Is this what people are whining about these days? Someone’s clumped up piece of hair? I don’t speak for all Caucasian people, but my hair dreadlocks if I don’t brush it for a few days. Even if I was and shampoo it, my hair has the tendency to dreadlock. That said, I find dreads absolutely unappealing so I would never keep them regardless of it being appropriation or not.

    Not all caucasian cultures are the same. There are some with dreads, some without them. Also, why do many black women wear weaves? Aren’t you appropriating those poor Indian women’s hair and cultures. Everything can be appropriation and whine-worthy when it suits you. Wearing winged eyeliner should be appropriation of Egyptian culture cuz Cleopatra. Or growing hair long should be approproaton of Native American culture because long hair holds importance for them. See how stupid that sounds? Dumbass.

  78. @ k.la – yes!!
    First off, I don’t think any one culture or race “owns” dreadlocks. People all over the world have been locking their hair for thousands of years and I think anyone can wear them. I can understand a few of the concerns and feelings people have expressed here but I believe it’s being looked at the wrong way. For a lot of people, it’s just another hair style, purely aesthetic. For others, it’s a deeper, more soulful reason. It seems to me that if someone’s hairstyle or lifestyle bothers you, it’s because you yourself are not comfortable with an aspect of yourself or maybe your heritage.
    Secondly, as history shows, white people have taken everything from hair styles and language to food and land from other peoples and amalgamated into the english language, western food, America… I think this is why a lot of people in western society suffer from a lack of culture. And I think people, especially these days, are really feeling this lack. They are searching for something, themselves essentially. When one has no culture or is not fulfilled by their own, it seems only natural that they would explore other cultures trying to find what resonates with them.
    I am considered white by most people. I’m half German, and half Puerto Rican. So should I not be allowed to rock dreads? Or is it okay because I may have some distant African lineage in my DNA? Lol, it just seems so stupid to put stipulations on how people wear their hair.

  79. While no one may “own” the history of dreads, I think the person who brought up the point about a white person cutting them off and goes back to living their life made a good point. If you google the word, “beauty”, what race of women will you see?
    The fact that people of a certain race have a right to wear dreads is besides the point for black people. True, but besides the point.
    No other race of people’s have been vilified, degraded, and made a political statement as much as “black hair”. A black women with dreads is at times seen as militant, lesbian, afrocentric,etc. Which has negative connotations in America. Dreads were not called “dreads” until black people started wearing them(dreadful).
    I think the point that is being missed here is that anyone has a right to wear their hair any way they want, but whenever a non black person appropriates a style, only then is it seen as cool. We see this everyday in the media and that is where the anger from some black people here stems from.
    Black women relaxing their hair/weaving it, etc. Is not really the sAme as a white person locking their hair. A black person straighten their hair because of a conditioning to their thinking that straight hair is better and that they will be more accepted( not all black people). It’s been this way since slavery with the good hair(curly, straighter hair, light skin,closer to white) and bad hair( kinky,coils, dark, ) issue, but it’s changing a little with the natural hair movement. I personally would’ve all black peel to embrace their beauty but everyone likes what they’ve( or have been conditioned to like).
    So a white person wanting dreads to appear more “cool” isn’t the same thing. Different perspectives is why some people are angry.
    I you want to wear dreads, wear them, but realize what other people are feeling too.
    I personally think if your dreads(locks) look nice and are clean, regardless of cure then cool. Beauty is beauty and everyone’s story behind them is different. 🙂

  80. I’m white. I have dreadlocks. I have a Buddha tattoo on my arm. I have both earlobes gauged to an inch and a quarter. I ain’t mad or nothing. But why judge someone on their features? So black people with straight hair or weaves irks you too? I get called many of different things so I’m not mad at all. You have your own opinions and I have mine. But what I do get mad at are people being racist. Racist toward any culture and ill get pissed right off. I’m not trying to be black or hide who I am by getting dreads and piercings. I just like them. And I’m also not this wanna be Jamaica guy either. Cuz like I said I’m not black and I was born in Canada.

  81. Black people certainly do not hold a monopoly with locked hair.
    The misconception stems from the fact that most black people can easily lock their hair without any products, so it is assumed that dreads belong to black people. This is not true at all. While it might take longer for a Caucasian person to lock their hair, whose to say that they have no right an d is appropriating from another culture that didn’t “invent” them in the first place.

    And even if history proves that blacks were the first to wear them, so what? All hair is made up of the same chemicals and history shows that many cultures had them.

    Another point I do not get is, why are some referring to hair as “black” and “white ” hair? There are some Caucasians with tightly curly hair and there are some blacks with straight hair.

    Anyways, I can see both sides to the argument and some of the comments are a bit racist.

  82. I spent some time in Oakland while attending CCA over a decade ago. I recall a lot of black people I overheard on a public bus or another student I met at school woulf bring up some type of black/white issue. I completely get where the women you were overhearing meant by their dusdain for folks that jump on “trends” which come from cultures/lifestyles of other ppls lives. This also could have also have applied to the three white people the women okaced in the general pop of backwagoners but drawing that conclusion must have come from seeing white people follow the dread trend many times before. For those that wear dreads due to their backgrounds and not something affiliated with Bob Marley or weed, they will feel insulted/some type of way as to why others that don’t have an authentic reason, rock dreads. Coming from someone who is a Black American, I don’t care for dreads at all but I do know people who wear them to represent their people, their homeland and holds meaningof being proud of their cultural. I also have known people that just rock them because they are lazy but don’t have the decency to keep up with the style..to the point of going months before getting them retwisted. To me, it does not work for every hair type but if one chooses to rock their hair that way, at least attempt to keep up with it rather than having the dread unravel and get so kinked up. A girl that began going to that school with me was a poser..pretending to be this wordly artsy fartsy to fit in..a lot of people in my dorm were vegetarians or vegans which was odd for me since I had only known one person that was a vegetarian back home. It gets so annoying seeing people act like they are into what the majority are into and ignore being themselves just to feel accepted!

    I took a Busdhism class at a university that required its students to take a religious course. I didn’t know too much about the religion but through some research, was happy I had chosen it. Now, I had expected my professor to be of Indian background just because they either practice Buddhism, Hinduism and a few other similar religions..however, the professor looked like a blond surfer dude from sunny California that moved to New Jersey. I could tell that some of the students that were Indian were also stunned to see their professor was not Indian. There’s a hige difference when taking courses like religion or language where someone interested in learning these courses expext to some level to have a teacher that was raised in that given environment whether religion or language instead of just having it being taught by someone that learned from it being his/her major. There were questions that were asked in class about the monk life or Buddha that the professor could not answer–not saying that this couldn’t have happened to the professor if he/she was a Buddhist–but you expect the professor to have mastered he subject matter. This experience would be like a man trying to teach me how to be a woman or my terrible Spanish teacher that was Italian..I couldn’t really get into the lesson because she half-a**ed the dialect, would ignore or give the wrong word for an animal or w/e was apart of the day’s lesson and she couldn’t show/tell us much about the Spanish cultural because that wasn’t apart of her life..a person should want to learn about this new language, be fully sucked into all that the language and its people have to offer the rest of us, not dread having to come to the class!

  83. It makes me sad to read most of these comments. What is it with this “appropriating” bullshit. Need I remind every single one of you that WE ARE ALL ONE SPECIES! If you’re black and you complain about racism yet get mad at white people for doing a certain thing well then that makes you racist! Basically saying another race should not be able to do something. Separation, separation, separation. You are lacking something very important with this mindset, and it’s called love. WAKE UP, we are all one. We are all in the same universe, the same galaxy, solar system and by god we are all on the same fucking planet! We need to learn to get along with each other. Truthfully I believe we are all interconnected. Screw the cultures, screw the border lines and the skin colors. It’s called a HUMAN species, get over your opinions and judgements and spend some more time on the opposite spectrum of you’re negativity bubbles. One love, one consciousness.

  84. I feel a hunnert times badder ’bout Black folk pressin’ and nukin’ their hair to be straight or at least less “kinky” because of either a) White-supremacist cultural brainwashing and subsequent internal, eternal feelings of inferiority, b) racist (“non-ethnic”) hiring policies by all economic entities that practice intolerance, or c) to attract romantic partners among those who prefer Caucasian or Asian hair to African hair. I dreaded my silky tresses to sport the message that African hair is acceptable and okay. I learned that it isn’t, even with “privilege.” I guess I’ll have to get a weave, now… or a Brazilian or Japanese straightening. That, or swallow those capsules that made James Whitmore’s character in the film based on the true story “Black Like Me,” turn black. He shaved his head (I did read the book). I won’t have to. I had African braids before that, BTW. White folks hated me in corporatia. Black folks there were accepting when I had a real deep suntan, and passed, light as I was, by contrast. Now if I were really African American, I would’ve been ostracized for bein’ light-skinned, just like in the book, “The Color Complex.”

  85. first sry for my english … but seriously black people hating white for dreadlocks is the biggest joke . First of all .. if white person stop comb his/her hair it will ends like dreadlocks ? Yes. so why you want claim it as your . I have natural locks , many of friends too . If something dreads naturally you cannot claim it as is your . Yes tone of skin is yours and if white want imitate it it is wrong but no hair .
    And read something about evolution . First beards and hairs starts growing at ice age . Probalby everone have dreadlocks because no one have comb . And yeah ice age people were white . So if you really want go to the debate dreadlocks are white people style historicaly . Deal with it

    1. It doesn’t offend me at all dread locks on any type of skin colour but I think some people are offended. here’s what, African people were taken as slaves, for years we were mocked for our appearance- skin colour & hair etc. Some people still feel uoset about it. Because people were hated for being who they were….Once I saw a documentary about South Africa & racism. ..The white woman loved Lionel Richie’s music but was a racist & hated blacks! senseless! or white folks who hate blacks but have surgery to make their lips bugger, get their skin dead to be darker or make their bottoms abnormaly larger like a black woman’s. then there are blacks who hate white’s but wear weave ons & use fade cream to have lighter skin…This saddens me i think some of these people have issues as they don’t identify their skin colour, appearance or hair as being beautiful in it’s natural state! come on peop’s we are all from the same planet & race! All human beings! one love!

  86. Why do people yell at each other, snipe and cry foul. It is lazy to do these things, because some problems require thoughtfulness, goodwill and acknowledgement. If you don’t have these, then you become thoughtless, sow ill will and disregard the right to respect for every human being. Many are mistaken, many more are just plain wrong. There are times when confrontation is required, and sometimes one’s own life is forfeit. I do not live in a country with Jim Crow laws, and there were many who died for that to be so. It is a betrayal of their sacrifice to hate, to reduce the conversation to getting a little power by putting others down, to turn our pain into vicious attacks based on a moral high ground that leaves everyone voiceless in a approaching meaningful conversation, that shuts down all opinions with a greedy appropriation of the “truth” because we suffer, because we all suffer, but some suffer more. I want that to change. To have a hope, we must all work together some how, the way the Civil Rights Movement people of all backgrounds came together and created the momentum for change. I thank them every day.

  87. The best part of everything that is silly mindless hate for hair choices made by whomever is a universal trait among humans. Its truelly sad to think that someones else’s hair can bother you would not your thoughts be better used to solving the social tensions of ‘Race’. I frankly find this all quite silly but I’m ‘white’ so whatever right 50℅ Irish, 50℅ Metis but you couldn’t tell. Touching on another note if nobody should ‘steal’ from other cultures would that mean that music should be restricted to the same people as the artist, should literature, should art, should food. If it starts at hair it will won’t it logically end in total segregation, I promote the idea of the human race, the human culture, a big mixing pot called earth where nothing cultural belongs to anybody and everyone is free to express them selves. Aaand white people stealing hahaha white people destroyed Irish culture and Irish people are white that confusion on who stole what from who and who should feel sorry for what, is in itself a contradiction, as I have never stolen culture wearing dreads as a white person dosent take away the right of a black person to wear them, and if a black person straightens their hair dose that take it away from white culture noo. I want to live in a world where everyone can do as they please and no one is offended by the way you dress or chose to look. Aodhan Melinn O Seaghdha 19 blue eyes freckles and my grandfathers name was Long Deer.

    1. This is the best response of the whole article. Life is about unity, not segregation or possession of culture. Why waste time and energy getting mad about someone’s fashion sense or religion? In fact, why spend your limited time on this earth focusing on negative things and things you can’t change? Why not spend your time helping others, dissolving racism, promoting a sense of community, and trying to make this world a better place? What people should really be ‘offended’ or ‘irked’ about is that people are still directing their time and energy on such irrelevant topics. People are dying everyday from a lack of clean water and food, genocide, and war, and many many other disgusting and evil things while we are talking about a hair style.

  88. It’s not appropriation if it’s a style shared by many races over time…just saying. Dreads can also be found in India, and even the Vikings had notoriously dreaded hair. It’s just hair, anyway. Religion and lifestyle, at the end of the day, are just a way one chooses to live. I have a friend, who is white and is deeply entrenched in the practice of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, to the point to where he is seeking tutelage for priesthood in a primarily Japanese sect of the Buddhist practice. As long as your heart is in the right place, it doesn’t matter.

  89. I believe that the emotional response to cultural appropriation is real. It is a little “oh no” kind of jarring jolt every time I see someone wearing a mala as a fashion statement. I associate the precious mala with its pure use as a way of remaining steady in saying God’s name and offering God my heart, of beads which have slid through my fingers many thousands of times. My cherished mala has a protective place and never touches the floor. When I wear it, I am constantly aware of keeping it sacred.

    Oh no! My heart cries out!! To see people wearing a mala as jewelry feels so wrong. The wearers seem to be appropriating the devotional “cachet” that goes with the mala without any contribution to this legacy. That is what appropriation feels like to me. That is what my heart tells me is not right. I cannot change what is in my heart.

    That said, these currents of culture and time are not alive within a vacuum. We also live with entrenched racism and classicism. These strands of “hurt” get woven into everything that goes into our interrelated culture.

    To have conversation about this requires an understanding that disenfranchised people shouldn’t have to FOR ONE MOMENT bear the burden of educating others about their predicament. We need to all share the burden, without condescension. I am white. This means if I have a fear of black people’s anger or etc., I work on that on my own time. People of color should not have to listen to my problems unless I have worked through them, and am no longer threatened or driven by them. Word, white people. Don’t find a person of color to work shit out with.

    But we need to have a conversation about such things. We’re doing that right now. The context of possible cultural appropriation means that people shouldn’t have to be mean about either side of any issue, or conversation STOPS immediately.

    I see this so often. The internet brings us together, and we start to talk, and then someone shuts everything down with hatred and meanness. Or a stance of understanding that others simply cannot reach.

    Taking a moment to trump someone with meanness, or taking a cultural high ground for a few moments to help get over the pain of disenfranchisement is accepting a consolation prize in “replacement” for hanging on for the real prize, which is finding an unshakeable place of self-worth and self-respect to make it through this world, and finding others that value and protect this in themselves as well. This can only be won individually for each of us, in our own way.

    For some people, we just have to cut bait and walk away. Some people are just not ever going to mature. They’ll be messy, and sometimes obnoxious. They parrot the fears and hatred of others without any understanding of why they are creating pain and fear which will continue on to live another day. Our culture cannot progress if we waste time and energy on these people. But they are especially damaging to our own struggle if we lump everyone else in with them.

    And so. If I cannot reach someone, hopefully I do not need them for anything.

    For many thousands of years, wandering sadhus and sadhinis have worn their hair in “jata,” or long locks. It is a sign of their devotion to God, of their renunciation of a “normal” life. Sadhus are highly regarded, and accept alms and food from passerbys. They smoke sacred gange, often all day.

    Slaves from India were imported to the Carribbean and a merge of Abrahamic and Sanatana religions resulted in the Rastafarian religion. There are far more Indians with dreads than there are of African-Carribbean descent, about 4 million of them.

    So time adds a layer to the mix of currents that complicate and understanding of cultural appropriation. We live in the post-modern era. That means everything that can be said or owned about Western civilization has already happened. Everything has been done. Except…. wow, look at this culture over here!

    This part of appropriation will never stop, because it is driven by pop culture, and pop culture is nothing more than an insatiable appetite for WHAT IS NEXT.

    The takeaway: Isn’t this all about shared understanding? About how hard it is to create that? About how easy it is to squash any attempt right from the beginning? Whose fault is it that we’re in this mess? If that’s the only question we have, if blame is the only answer, then the conversation will always be over in the first two or three sentences.

  90. Right. So if these people get yuppie haircuts will it solve the inequalities this woman is complaining about?

    It’s the 21st century. It’s their (the white people’s) bodies. They’re not getting some benefits from appropriating Black culture, look at the number of bankers, accountants, lawyers, politicians with that hairstyle. It marks them as outsiders/punks. Is that really a problem? Same with Mohawks.

  91. What can I do? I’m a white, female in her 30’s. I am half Greek and half European blend. My family isn’t tight. I wish they were, but they aren’t. I love an array of music and have a fondness for most forms of art, worldwide. I love God. I don’t like to associate with a denomination or religion because they usually mask hatred. I am trying to learn to love. I want to feel beautiful. I want to be accepted……
    I don’t know for sure, but I think many white people, especially women….like me….. just want something they can believe in.
    Can we help it if our hodgepodge backgrounds provide us with no roots and a myriad of questions about who we are? I, for one, have always admired cultures that have such rich heritage. African, Latino, Asian, Oceanic, you name it. It is a deep hole in my heart that cannot be filled by most immediate family or recent ancestors. We simply do not have those tangible things that make us aware of who we are…..or that we belong.
    I feel certain cultures emulate love better than others. Obviously, white people are associated with hatred. I don’t like that. I can’t change that….any more than a black person can change the labels and beliefs that have been associated with their race. Or, maybe we can?….. Maybe we can smile at the black man in the grocery line in white “suburbia” even if we’re a white woman? Maybe we can chuckle at the white woman wearing dreadlocks in the cafe and give her a high five for trying to find something that gives her a connection to love?
    Just thoughts…… not answers.
    Thank you for your post. (And, no….. I’m not getting dreadlocks. Although, I wish I could get away with it. They are awesome.)

    1. Pidge Greece is in Europe so you’re not half Greek, half European, you’re all European. And secondly, you have no roots?? As a person of Greek descent… wow, reconsider your statement. Every single person on this planet has roots and cultural ties. Your roots and foundation of culture lie in Greece and elsewhere in Europe (you didn’t specify). Now, as AMERICANS–and I assume you are American, if I am not then I apologize!–we are detached from our roots more so than, say, a person who is directly from Germany, Nigeria, or Malaysia. That is a divide we can never truly cross. I don’t feel, though, that when suburban white children awkwardly and ignorant try to emulate various aspects of other cultures that is the answer.

  92. well who cares, I’m white and my hair naturally dreads itself if I don’t brush it so in the wild I would have dreadlocks, how racist can people be to say that dreads are for black people only?? Do I have to brush my hair everyday so I don’t offend idiots?? I love dreaded hair because it looks good, not because I wanna be a rasta, even though I highly respect a lot of Rastas, and I consult Buddhism when dealing with animals and others because it has good teachings, if it’s gonna be like that then what are two non europeans doing in a cafe!!! The hypocrisy is astounding!! As soon as someone brings race into it, they have just proven themselves to be racist and a racists opinion is never welcome!!

  93. Hair is something you have when your born. Has nothing to do with race or skin color. We live in a society that judges us if we don’t conform to societies norm. People always want to find a way to hate or judge. I find its just jealousy. We are all reflections of each other in some manner. Having curly hair does seem more natural for locks. Culturally Locks date back to Egyptian times, and Indian culture . I find now day that locks are being more excepted in our culture and society. Twenty years ago it was even more racially profiled, and excommunicated. If your reading this open your mind to others and accepting that everyone is different.

  94. As a white person, it does bother me occasionally when I see a white person with dreads. It doesn’t in all cases, though; sometimes you can just SENSE when it is a white dreadlocked child cast from an upper-middle-class, let’s “save the world as our pet project until daddy flies us to Aspen” mold. That bothers me. But occasionally I come across a white person with dreads where it doesn’t feel ironic or forced. Any white person who chooses to have them should at least understand them, learn about them, and know the history/meaning of dreads before they get them. These things do matter. I as a white man have long hair and beard; not dreaded hair, simply long hair. I will not turn that long hair into dreads because I feel it would be misguided and disrespectful, somehow.

  95. First off, And to the ignorant one who tried to school us with the example of Black women weaving in straight hair–honey, it’s NOT the same thing.

    I’m a Nigerian-American woman…I’ve worked in law enforcement, medicine and corporate America and let me tell you this, I felt pressure ALL THE TIME to conform to the white norm.

    When I blew out my hair (not all of us need weaves) straight I was treated more favorably than when I wore my Afro or locs.

    How would you feel if your boss said or implied for you to continue working or receive a promotion you had to be blonde all the time? Or if you had to be a certain weight? Would you stand for it?

    That’s how it is for us.

    Some workplaces are not welcoming to ethnic hair because they don’t understand it, so it strikes a “deviant” chord with them.

    They have “rules” saying the only natural hairstyle accepted is an Afro–well, news flash! That doesn’t leave us with much choice that doesn’t involve a hair dryer, straightening iron or chemicals.

    Couple that with racism and sexism and you see why some Black women opt for conformity because hair is something they can control to an extent and it takes one strike off themselves for them to get promotions and succeed etc.

    You as a white person have white privilege and benefit from that every day whether you acknowledge it or not, whether your ancestors raped and pillaged…or not. You still BENEFIT.

    So, if you want to play Vanilla Rasta today, you can…until you get tired of the judgments and the looks–THEN you can shave it off and blend in with your people, reaping the social benefits once again.

    No harm done, right?

    Wrong. That’s why we get angry because you wear our various cultures like a pretty coat and NOT suffer any real damage to your esteem, social standing or even your livelihood the way we do.

    You reduce to a hippy dippy trend instead of as real human beings. It’s fetishizing to another extent.

    Basically, when you distill all the arguments, it comes down to this: people who wear dreads for cultural, spiritual, and political reasons VS. people who think it’s just a “style” with no statement whatsoever.

    To those who think dreads are just a “style,” here’s my example in an attempt to make you get it why you piss people off:

    Should non-Jewish Germans be able to wear a Yamaka because they like the way it looks?

    It’s “just” a hat, riiiiiight?

    Ahhh now we’re silent.

    Yah, see that pit of nausea and disgust you’re probably feeling–that’s because most people with intelligence would cringe at the thought of taking something that has A LOT of cultural/religious weight for the latest fashion accessory…especially when said person belongs to the race that oppressed the other group they’re stealing from.

    That Yamaka is a symbol.
    Our dreadlocked hair is a symbol.

    Yah, it’s your body yadda yadda…doesn’t change the fact it’s still insensitive, ignorant and distasteful when you think it’s “just a style.”

    Have some respect.

    Sometimes, a hat isn’t “just” a hat and a hairstyle isn’t always “just” a style.

    1. If more white people wore dreads (regardless of reasons) and unintentionally were taking advantage of that white privilege to make the look more acceptable wouldn’t that eventually benefit those that wear them for religious purposes? Let your religion and your beliefs shine through no matter what hair styles you have. I’m white and my hair dreads up naturally so I just let the dreading take over and separated / guided the growth. YARMULKES are symbols, yes, but they don’t naturally grow upon ones head. Look at some of the other primitive/other cultural customs that have become more acceptable b/c of white people trending them: Piercings, Lobe Stretching, tattooing.. Now you can go to an office in parts of the South Carolina, Georgia… and see people with stretched lobes, tattoos and piercings! The employment arena is changing even if it is slow to accepting many different kinds of people. I bet w/in 2 generations it’ll be even more so accepting.

      If one does lobe stretching or tattooing, dreadlocks or wear yarmulkes b/c of religious conviction I’m sure there are other ways to live and treat people that would solidify that to others. It may seem disrespectful but should you concern yourself with what others do? other people that you don’t even know? Wear your dreads, stretch your lobes or wear a yarmulke or a bindi and let the spirit of your religion shine through your actions to your fellow man. See the white woman with the dreads? Don’t give her dirty looks. Pay her a complement, offer to help her with them and maybe show her just what they mean to you. Who knows? you may be saving a soul or mending a broken heart.

    2. I am from scandinavia. The original style of hair before combing was locked/semi-locked….. For ALL races, of course taking into account the individual´s hair texture. Just a lot of generalization and such… “That Yamaka is a symbol.
      Our dreadlocked hair is a symbol” is a weird comment, because symbols might mean different things to different people and they might have been taken from some other culture before… What about nazis using the swastika which is an ancient symbol from India? And what about “Hindu” people, should they be offended by rastafarians using a hairstyle which they have had as a part of their religious traditions for much longer? I think all of this is just people who are insecure, who want to be angry at other people because they themselves are insecure of their own beliefs… What use is there to comment on the appearance of another person? Anybody can do whatever they with their appearance, I know of a guy who has swastikas tattooed on almost everywhere on his body and he is not a nazi, he says he is “reclaiming” the swastika. So, as to not become a douche who criticizes people based on the way they look, I believe one should actually get to know the meaning of why others look like the way they do, or otherwise it is a construction the viewer is creating him/herself…

  96. Hi: I love this discussion and have posted more than once. I keep coming back to read and reread. Understanding of this issue seems to be growing and becoming more subtle, which is enlightening (and hopeful!)

    I have also been following a similar discussion about an extreme example of a Westerner appropriating Hindu religious symbols while disrespecting the symbols themselves and the people who cherish those symbols by swearing and baiting in a very unattractive way while wearing them.

    Her blog has long since been taken down, but there are some copies of it that survive in this discussion:


  97. Hi it’s me again. My latest thoughts:

    Mass culture has evolved into mass media (think superstar Lizst becomes superstar Beyonce). It is the nature of popular culture to create consumables out of everything new and fresh that can have anything at all to do with popular style.

    Culture used to get passed around at the pace of trade routes, missionary or military activity, etc., which could take generations.

    As the world gets smaller, more and more cultures are “close” enough to get raided. At first their cultural goodies are appreciated “over there.” But nowadays anything cool or interesting or new can get sucked into the popular media vortex, endure appropriation, then spit out as a used up fad with no real reference to or understanding of most recent or historical origin.

    Fads don’t last. More raiding is required. And it happens faster and faster. Now we can snag from a huge smorgasbord of the world’s cultures and customs a click away online.

    The question of who owns and benefits from this process arises. Most of us are consumers whose contribution to the larger trends consist entirely of our votes as consumers. We seek out trends and consume them, adding them to our playful self-expression, and/or a serious pursuit of prestige.

    A lot gets left behind with this acceleration of trade and consumption. People want the Cliff Notes version of cultural swag, if that. Even better, pick a nice slice of meaning off the shelf in Walmart for cheap. Throw it away with the packaging.

    We’re selling our souls for consumerism.

  98. To each their own is a beautiful thing… except when someone else has an issue with it. Go find something else to be ornery about. If only certain people are allowed to practice certain trends, isn’t that a little backwards thinking?

  99. Pingback: Dreads - Page 4
  100. It bothers me when blacks think that whites have it better well we don’t I’m a disabled white male who lives in a motel room and can’t get disability cause I’m a white male…and as far as dreds go its a human hair style not a black hair style

  101. Actually dreads are not just black. Ancient tribes in Europe wore dreads and there are a few pictures of ancient peoples of the Americas wearing dread. What a waste of time to discuss issues that push blacks and white more apart.

  102. As an European, this obsession with colour/culture in America seems so strange! As a Scottish person, with a proud heritage and a colourful history behind us, I would never get annoyed at people wearing tartan or demand they know the history behind it. (And before someone jumps in, we were oppressed and forced to abandon the Kilt in 1736 in “The Dress Act”.)
    I don’t mean to sound dismissive but I wonder if it’s because in Europe we’ve kinda accepted that everyone has screwed everyone else over in some shape or form in history so we tie our culture more to our countries and less to oppression? (I think I worded that wrong but hopefully it makes sense!)

    1. Where did black people ever screw white people the way slavery did to mine? This is crap because blacks have always gotten the lower half in this white supremacist world….always.

  103. I think you can get in a real muddle about this. It is mostly younger white people who want to wear dreads. They are often still ‘finding’ themselves and rightly reject the society around them that they see as consumerist and unfair. They often ‘grow out’ of this phase; usually because they get rejected for jobs etc. (that’s another discussion). Just be kind and let it go – they are generally not the ones we should be fighting against. In my own opinion only white guys with red hair should be allowed locks – they can work it and they are already discriminated against (ahem).

  104. some white people want to fight against white oppression too. i am white, and i am disgraced by what people have done to our own brothers and sisters. that’s why i chose to put my hair in locks. i don’t want to care about beauty, that’s a form of oppression. and i don’t want to support the hair brushes that are manufactured in a factory. i don’t want to drive cars that pollute our earth and the creatures living on it. i don’t want to look beautiful with brushed clean hair so that someone else cansee me and USE me. just like they used black people. I WANT TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF AND BE ME, FREE. learning about the ex slaves from jamaica and rastafari really helped me learn how I AM a slave too. in this society. nothing like being held captive by one family and being tortured or treated like shit, but i was born into a system of slavery, -where we have to get a job and work for the rest of our lives, or make our bodies look and act in a specific way to make other people happy. i don’t believe in laws. nature is the only law we should follow.

    anybody eating in a cafe is supporting money and white OPPRESSION. i do NOT want to support MONEY. that’s why i have dreads. i am the whitest looking girl youd ever see. but that’s why i want to show what i truly believe, dress naturally. and not abide to all these rules we’ve been conditioned to believe.

    actually i just put my hair in locks, and i used a comb. but now i feel really stupid about that, it takes away the point. so i was thinking of shaving my head and never brushing it again after that. just let me hair do it’s own thing. and i’m going to make my own clothes, and give away the manufactured ones i own. i don’t want to support someone else making things for me. that’s america. that’s oppression.

    i want to live free and naturally.

    so just remember, it’s not the race that is appropriating anything. it’s the person who still hasn’t broken free of their captivity. just like how the black dread woman and the asian woman, were both in the cafe having what they PAID for. they were appropriating the use of money. which is the downfall of all people. the slavery itself

  105. just wanted to add,
    i said how i choose the hair, for one reason, to not put effort into “beauty”.
    that is not to say that dreadlocks are not beautiful….. i think the most natural body is the most beautiful.
    i meant that i do not want to conform to society’s standards of “beauty”.
    or anyone else’s standards, for instance, when one thinks that they have a stigma which keeps them down, such as a black person not having equal rights because the people in charge are white,…i don’t play that. i don’t put into it. i want to take away from it.
    and i think that’s what a lot of the new age people are trying to do when they “let go” of the idea of racism. they don’t want it in their lives so they refuse to see it. to me that’s not bad. it is bad if they continue to support the system that created those ideas, by continuing to support money and everything that goes along with it. slaves were bought. money is what keeps man down. separate.

    i believe in unity, and if i believe in unity, that means i don’t believe in racism. i have to choose this so the future can be free of racism.
    yes we all know it existed and continues to go on today. but there is also a lot of violence WITHIN races. man is just violent and hateful because of their leaders. the leaders are full of hate. therefore how can we be free of it? only if we choose to be free.

    free from everything you don’t want. just drop it. you don’t need it.
    all people have connected souls, so if we continue to see people as races, people will continue to discriminate against those.

  106. Many cultures had Dread locks. If it is an African ONLY hair style then any black man with a shaved head should be considered self loathing since shaved heads are a Aryan Brotherhood Hair(less) Style. Or the Mohawk.. it is Native American. I mean we can go on about hairstyles and analyze them to pieces. There are some cultures (not only African) believe Locked hair holds spiritual powers. Some that consider locked hair to hold in knowledge of their ancestors, and Strength. Get over it! I mean for the love of pete there are more serious issues in the world than to worry about someones hair. I read one comment where the lady said some woman made racist remarks and then proceeded to dread her hair…. Her hair is NOT her problem. Her Dreaded mind is. Your hairstyle does not make you racist, your ignorance does. If you are or are not a racist has NOTHING to do with your hair.

  107. Dreads are not a hairstyle that only one race can claim. Hair has been growing longer than brushes have been produced . while I respect the author and where she is coming from I disagree that dreads are only for blacks . there aren’t really any tribal whites around anymore we as white people also have a right to express our tribal nature and return to roots forgotten in the past and claim our place among nature though as a race we have been so long separated from it.. I’m sure whites somewhere in history had Locs as well why else would our hair naturally dread if it were not a hairstyle possible for whites as well…

  108. I am not exactly “white” (I am English, Italian, Irish, Scottish, German, Dutch, Cherokee, French and Greek) and I do not exactly agree with what has been written here. Yes, I am female. Yes, I have “locks” that hang down to my waist; they are no thicker than an ink pen’s barrel. While the Africans do, in part, have every right to claim “locks” as their own style, especially when one takes into consideration what the style means, both culturaly and politically, there are other cultures who wore the style, or one very similar, for centuries.

    Everyone knows that people in the Middle East wear a style that can be classified “locks.”

    The Irish, Germans and Scots were known to wear a style very similar to “locks” as well. Only they were called “pixie knots” and have been worn for several centuries. So yes, “white” people have worn the same style, under a different name, for a considerable amount of time.

    I believe it is completely acceptable for anyone of any skin color to wear any hair, makeup, tattoo or piercing style they want, AS LONG AS they know why they are doing it. It is not right for someone to wear, for instance, a mohawk or braids and not understand where the styles originated from, because that is simple ignorance. However, even though it is my belief that someone needs to understand where that particular style came from and be able to comprehend that it is not a “trend,” it still doesn’t give me the right to criticize or condemn them for how they wear their hair or decide to dress.

    As long as no one is hurting or disrespecting an individual, a group of people or themselves by dressing or wearing a hairstyle, getting tattoos or piercings, or even listening to certain musical genres, then they are doing no harm. It’s when they are willfully ignorant and have decided that they are going to do something because it seems “trendy,” is when it needs to be stopped.

    And just for the record, I am a “punk,” I grew up in the ’80s punk scene. I listen to metal in all its forms, including Industrial. I also listen to “punk,” as well as opera. My best friend, Ivy, is a dark-skinned (she is of mixed race) Creole girl who enjoys the same music as I- and she’s got a bright green mohawk. Neither of us can be considered wrong. Just as some random blonde woman isn’t wrong for wearing braids, nor is a dark-skinned woman wrong for straightening/relaxing and dying her hair.

  109. I think what irks me most is that people automatically assume dreadlocks is a hairstyle belongs only to one culture group. History says otherwise. To say that all other races who have matted locks are trying to be Rastas or something they are not, is unfair. The first documented historical case of matted locks is that of Biblical Samson with his seven locks. There were many Caucasian (for lack of a better definition) tribes that had matted hair. These included the Germanics, Norse, Vikings, Greeks & Celts. Romans that advanced on the Celts were recorded as saying the Celts had ‘snakes for hair’. The matted locks of Celts were called ‘Gleebs’. There were Mongolian tribes that matted their hair too, for instance Icelandic Inuit tribes. Of course many African tribes matted their hair, as well as documented archeological evidence of northern African & middle eastern people with matted hair (Egyptians & Sumarians) All this happened long before Rastafarianism (born in the 1930’s) came about. The followers of Ras Tafari, who became the emperor of Ethiopa, matted their hair. The name DREADlocks specifically refers to Island tribes (like Jamaicans) with matted hair who were taken as slaves & treated inhumanely by slave traders. This hairstyle has been known known by many different names over the ages.

  110. Life is short. Let go of the victim mentality. How someone chooses to express themself is up to them, if you don’t like it – divert your eyes. We have no idea why people choose to do the things they do or what certain things mean to others, but trying to enforce how others choose to be is a waste of your time. We all have an equal birthright.

    1. Out of all the races in the world Black people should have the right to appropriate races(especially whites). They are the conquerors of my people. Point blank…just because you whites feel we (black people) shouldn’t remember the atrocities that were committed to my ancestors means nothing to me…..you stole everything (family,religion, country, land)from my people……I don’t see how on God’s green earth you think the historic rhetoric you quote any black person should ever believe. This hair is for MY PEOPLE. Damn you whites who want to steal our hair too. Black people remember “Conquerors always write the history”…..ALWAYS…..Find out who we are away from the so called research that white scholars do( Then you will be able to shift through the crap most of the whites quote in this forum). These people are not our friends.

    2. Tell that crap to the Black babies that was use as alligator bait…Equal birthright???????? Tell that to the people that founded Black Wall Street. Victim Mentality??????? I want nothing from whites but one thing. A life where my great grandchildren can grow up without any white supremacy being shove in their face at every stage in life. Short of that…Your actions/words mean nothing.

      1. Don´t you see that you are being a racist yourself? This is a very racist and over-the-top generalizing comment. Hope you grow up. Or was this a troll? Hard to say because it was so stupid.

  111. I completely agree with you and was having a discussion with someone who was shaming me for decided to get dreadlocks in my hair. They spoke so harshly about white people and how much they shame “african americans” by wearing dreadlocks, and she never realized she was appropriating races right there, making nasty comments about another race. If we all just keep putting each other down constantly how does that solve the problem? I practice many other cultures and draw my belief system from so many different parts of the world. This type of thinking keeps us from moving forward, we keep that idea that we are all separate and should stay that way and that’s wrong, WE ARE ALL ONE! I am a mexican/scottish/german/spanish woman and I follow some cultures more than i follow my “assigned ” roles.. It is so beautiful to have so much respect for a way of life that we adopt it as our own in my opinion. Thank you tis article and thank you for not being a person who puts down others based on what they choose to wear/believe.

  112. This is some real racist shit I just seen… I live in the deep south an race is still a factor.. I made a decion when I was 15 I did not want to be apart of racisim anymore…. You know what I found out not all black people are bad an that not all white people are good I met one of my best friends in that period of my life , I am his kids godfather now the are all mixed race… Love them to death… I don’t have to explain how many different race friends I have BC it is a non factor… Point being my hair is 22 inches long i havent cut it in 7 years it is a hole lot of upkeep an I was looking for something to help me an i find this… Please be the change you want to see in the world.. Break molds be who you want to be if that means dreads go for it…. #realcrackerwantingdreadsdealwithitbitch

  113. I think Breeze Harper and Ben nailed it. First of all, who is anyone to determine who and what is or is not “white.” and how does any of this cause harm to certain groups in Africa who themselves use hair in the same spiritual senses as many cultures before them who were not necessarily black or African at all.

    Africa didn’t “invent” the dreadlocks, Semitic descended tribes located in Africa were and are not the only people who use the growing, locking, or cutting of hair as a spiritual pact, covenant with God, life journey or social/ethnic symbol.
    The idea that “white” use of dreadlocks constitutes appropriation of “black” culture assumes that “black” culture itself didn’t appropriate dreadlocks from previous generations of both Semitic and non-Semitic cultures. These cultures would have included “saxo-caucasians” represented alongside the hereditary ancestors of modern Solomonic-Ethiopian lineages which share inheritance with the Tribe of Judah through Solomon. These are now represented in the popular “rasta /afro Diaspora” traditions which I would argue themselves have been largely perverted and distorted as the fruit of years of social/political/racial hatred, bigotry and lack of forgiveness on the sides of both “white” and “black” descendants of the Fertile Crescent which as ALL of you should remember was the cradle of human civilization. This area of land encompassed a swath stretching from the Nile Delta and the coast of Ancient Israel through Samaria to the Persian Gulf.

    This is clearly not “Africa” but also includes portions of modern Israel, Palestine, Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In fact a minority portion is actually in Africa, although that fact matters nothing at all to the relevance of people over another.

    The rage and righteous indignation of fiery black revolutionaries had very little of its own heritage to draw from after 400 years of isolation and slavery in a foreign country aside from largely disjointed and broken oral traditions, and so drew upon the roots that had been ingrained in it through its “white” English, Dutch and French captor societies and traditions to create its own neo traditions. These roots, which include fiery southern Baptist teaching, Southern culture of the Antebellum South and French cultural ideas are evident in most modern “African Diasporic” teachings and groups. I’m not contending with them on all historical facts and heritage rights, etc., or denying the African Diaspora any more than the others, but I must point out that in addition to these other social and fraternal concepts portions of African American culture have also adopted antebellum and southern political and activist systems of racial and social bigotry and self aggrandizement while struggling to create their own identities and to claim their own stakes in the world of “free” men.
    A “black” man standing up and declaring to be the most important, beautiful and relevant race is no different than a “white” man saying the same thing.

    Rasta and certain other Afro-centered cultures and ethnic/religious groups share a common heritage just as we all do, and the game isn’t about who had the most beautiful/original dreadlocks for anyone who actually does understand what they mean.
    The only way a non-Ethiopian descendent of Solomon would be appropriating the cultural significance of “black” dreadlocks would be if they were adopting dreadlocks within the Rasta or Ethiopian heritage or inherited traditions, which just wouldn’t make terribly much sense in that that tradition is not inclusive in that way, and they could not possibly have the same exact reason for wearing them.

    But the use of dreadlocks in any other fashion, tradition or significance is entirely separate and within its own rights and importance in the fabric of the world, and anyone who would judge otherwise should read “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss.
    The dog who tried to grab the morsel from his reflection drops the morsel that was in his own mouth.

  114. I’m from Ireland living in the USA for 2 years and I’m so fully aware of my privilege being white here in the united states, you can not but notice it. I have a few dreads in my hair so i’m one of the shaved head white punks the article mentions. I’m not trying to embody Rastafarianism or African culture/religion or make a political statement I just think they look good. Makes me feel good wearing them. In Ireland it didn’t matter or mean much but I dunno being now classed as white in America if I have to cut them off as me wearing them here means something different than me wearing them at home? I really don’t want to offend anyone here in what is my new home and I know the terrible legacy many Irish immigrants have left here in the united states. As the majority of Irish immigrants even though they were going though much of the same oppression at home under the English penal laws defended slavery in order to advance their own social status. In Ireland I never had to deal with this as we were the oppressed and so race is a different topic there. We don’t share the same history as the Irish immigrants who came to American, even though they are often lumped in together.

    I would like to point out that we are in fact different then the so called Irish in America. One of the greatest Irish men who lived Daniel O’ Connell disowned them:

    Over the broad Atlantic I pour forth my voice, saying, come out of such a land, you Irishmen; or, if you remain, and dare countenance the system of slavery that is supported there, we will recognize you as Irishmen no longer.”

    Being from Ireland we are a totally different people then Irish-Americans. Corn beef and cabbage is not even a traditional Irish dish but it is for Irish-Americans. People here presume I belong to that group of people but I have nothing in common with them except the colour of our skin. We grew up with completely different life styles and values. I feel boxed in here and it really makes my blood boil as I feel Irish-Americans and Americans trash Irish culture. I cannot count how many times I have been casually told or asked I must love drinking or can drink a lot. That’s what British people used to say to us to bring us down and is considered casual racism. As Irish-Americans you are afforded privileges I never had. You can freely walk into British pubs in places and you wont ever feel a threat to your life but I cannot. I get scared when I see the British flag hanging in places as I don’t know if someone is going to scream at me to get out or hurt me and the people I’m with. There are places in my own country I cannot go because of the way I speak and where I was born. As part of the Island is still occupied by the British.

    When I moved to America I was fully aware that that didn’t matter as I could leave all that oppression behind and just become white. I really don’t want to be like the Irish who immigrated here but reading so many articles on race in American I feel I have no real choice in the matter. I used to be Irish now I’m white.

    After reading this I think I will just cut them out as I do want to make a life here and not offend American culture.

    1. It was very interesting to read about your experience, thank you for sharing. I didn’t realize that Irish were so heavily discriminated against by the British. I feel for you and the suffering you have been through and then to come here only to feel out of place because of the way you like to keep your hair. No matter what, someone will always find something to be offended by. Don’t change who you are just because some are not open minded enough to see that even if we have differences, we are all human. Hell, ‘race’ is such a misleading word. No one is 100% 1 race. Didn’t we all come from Africa anyway?? I’m black, white, and native american…am I “black enough” to wear dreads? It’s just ridiculous. So many things are borrowed from many cultures in America…should only Asians meditate, Europeans play stringed insturments, or latinos dance salsa? I just find it sad that as a people who are very familiar with suffering and discrimination, so many blacks harbor judgement and ridicule over something as asinine as a hairstyle. How is this any better or different from any other kind of discrimination, like when whites in America said baseball wasn’t for blacks? Any time this kind of view is perpetuated it is wrong. This planet is too populated for people to expect everyone to stay in their little boxes only and never ever be curious or open to enjoying the differences of other cultures.

  115. There are so many bigger problems in this world than whether its ok for white people to have dreadlocks. Chill out, smoke a bowl, and let people be who they want to be.

  116. “Let people be who they want to be”……you contradict yourself. If thats the case, then let the author of this blog “be and say what they want to say”. You act like we are cutting off white locs. Locs are a way of life, no just some fad or hairstyle. Its a spiritual thing. Non-melaninated, non- WOOLY HAIR people that wear locs are no different than a person wearing a cross and not being a Christian or Babylonian Edomite.

    1. Since when does one have to have dark skin and wooly hair to be spiritual? Who is anyone to tell a person how they should or should not be spirtual just because of their color? I know many black people who wear it as a fad or hairstyle, use chemicals and don’t even care about or know the history or spirtitual aspect, and conversely, white / brown people who see it as a spiritual representation of rejecting vanity and conformity. The irony.

  117. I don’t know if this is even still relevant, but how fucking dare you use John Butler’s photo like that? He’s an important person for a lot of Indigenous Australians, don’t erase light skinned POC like that. He has a fucking right to his hair. White people with dreads that look like logs of shit are disgusting, yes, but they’re mostly unaware of the real issue at hand. But still. John Butler has done a lot for Indigenous people here in Australia, LOOK INTO THINGS FIRST, YOU’RE FUCKING RACIST.

  118. I want to throw a previously unmentioned perspective into this. Disability.

    Ok, so I have knotted hair. I won’t call them dreads because I have soft, fine, straight hair that had to be hooked into knots. I’m British Caucasian. I’ve had my hair that way for a little over a year. I thought a long time about it, I researched, I read a lot about what different POC had to say about cultural appropriation and dreads.

    I frequently get looks of utter disgust and outright snarls from POC who see my hair. It hurts, but I don’t blame them in the slightest. I’m wearing my hair in a way that very closely resembles something deeply culturally important to them, and I can do it without fearing for my job. I’m aware of my privilege.

    My first exposure to knotted hair was those hippy/rockclimber types. I have a sensory disorder that makes fragrances, certain textures, and other sensory input incredibly uncomfortable. One of the things I’ve always struggled with was hair. The scented shampoo, the need to wash it daily to avoid it looking limp and greasy, and the soft hair tickling me. I can’t begin to describe how maddeningly uncomfortable that tickling is. Enough to send me into shuddering meltdowns. For people with the sensory disorder I have, triggers can sap your energy. I saw knotted hair and I thought “This, this is how I can keep my hair but not be in pain.” So now I wear my hair knotted up. I wash it regularly (but less than every day), so it doesn’t smell. It’s wispy and flyaway because of its type. The important thing to me is that I have my hair. I didn’t have to shave it off, I get to wear it in something resembling a style (I can sort of make it do a bun or a ponytail).

    I don’t for a moment believe I have a right to wear my hair like this, but the choice for me was knot it or lose it. Some of you might well feel that I should have shaved my head instead.

    To address a frequently mentioned attitude that I’ve seen expressed in other places as well as here. Claiming that white people have no culture is… well, racist. We have cultures, we might not be in touch with them, we might as a society ignore them while we appropriate other cultures, but we do have history and culture. It’s been almost eradicated by invaders, replaced with new ones, and is now only widely available in the same appropriative, romanticised, bottled-up and labelled way that threatens many other cultures. Generalising about us that we don’t have culture, that our only traditions are theft and oppression, that’s very hurtful, very unpleasant, and I’m respectfully asking you (generally, not aimed at anyone in particular) to stop.

    I understand that we’re the privileged group, I understand oppression is one-way, a thing that white people deliver onto POC, but racism is possible both ways, and “Whites have no culture” is racist.

    The idea that white is neutral, that it’s the absence of race…. I won’t presume to tell you what to be offended by, but everything I’ve read about race says that “white is the default setting” is at the core of white privilege and the oppression of POC. Perhaps those writers are wrong. I don’t know.

    I’m not going to make false comparisons here, I know you folks experience much worse racism than being called “white and cultureless”, much more often than I do. I’m doing my best to live my life in ways that keep me sane whilst respecting the cultures of others, I’d appreciate it if people from other cultures would extend me the same courtesy.

    Sorry for the long comment.

    1. Thank you for sharing, never considered it from the perspective of being more convenient while having a disability although it makes complete sense. I am glad you posted this. I hope some will read it and be reminded of why it is important not to judge…or assume. Best wishes to you.

        1. My apologies! I understand better now about it being a trade-off. I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel to be so distressed by the touch of my own hair. And wow, that link about the Spoon Theory is an incredible way to explain it. In no way am I saying it is the same as what you have to go through, but I have had clinical depression for over 15 years and it very much feels that way…as if I have to count my spoons to get through the day. That really resonated with me, so thank you for sharing that as well!

          1. Clinical depression is actually very similar. Lots of people with autism (sensory issues often come with autism) also get diagnosed with a combination of depression and anxiety, as sensory fatigue looks a lot like depression fatigue, and anxiety looks a lot like sensory overload, so we have a fair bit in common.

            My best way of describing the distress (as it’s frequently mis-characterised as fight or flight by psychologists), is the kind of irritation you feel when an insect buzzes round you or lands on you. It’s not frightening, just very irritating. More so if you’re already tired or stressed. It’s distracting and makes you even more irritable.

            Also, no need to apologise. Most of what I do around the internet is educate folks about autism and the many conditions that often come with it. Clarifications are to be expected 🙂

    2. Thanks Foxtears for the perspective around disability and hair choices . AS an able bodied person, it is a perspective I have rarely heard. It’s refreshing to have comments that bring in varying perspectives that rarely get heard…it’s also refreshing to not always have the a lot of folk yelling and screaming at each other.

      1. It’s kinda hard, I consider myself to be an intersectional feminist, and everything I read, and my own sense of fairness tell me I should shave them off.

  119. I enjoyed reading this, particularly because it objectively addressed both sides of the argument in a thoughtful, well-worded way.

    I do think if you are going to make something a part of your life that has significant cultural connotations, it would behoove anyone to learn about, appreciate and respect its origins. I see this is quite an old post but thought I’d ask for an opinion or two, and would greatly appreciate genuine, objective responses.

    While I would agree that the majority of white people with dreadlocks do it for strictly aesthetic reasons, I wonder what others think of white people with natural dreads? For instance, I am a very outdoorsy person. I do a lot of hiking and will go days without brushing my hair. I do not have dreadlocks, but I know several women (white) who after just a few days not brushing will have natural dreads beginning to form.

    Would a white woman who simply chooses to not brush, and let her hair exist in its natural state, be considered offensive for allowing dreads to form? Or for maintaining/helping them so they don’t turn into giant knot?

    I ask because I (as a white female) get the beginnings of dreads from time to time, and I sometimes consider just letting them exist, but I also often worry about coming across as offensive or ignorant. If I eventually choose to have them simply because I don’t brush my hair (I DO wash it regularly) and not to “sport a certain look” then how would that fare in this debate?

    What do people think?

  120. So, wait a minute. Black “folk” can make all the comments they want about my race, but the second I say something about them, no matter the context, I’m automatically coined a racist? And just because I’m white, I have to take that specific group (no one else, mind you) into consideration every move I make? I’m sure as hell no one gives a fuck what I think.

    Look, I’m sorry if black people have a disadvantage, but I’m not the one who caused that. I’m just living my life and I happen to be white….well wait, shouldn’t we stop eating Taco Bell? It appropriates Mexican culture after all, right? And what she said about “shaving that shit off”…black women change their hairstyles all the time. Why shouldn’t white people be able to?

    Really though, stop with the temper tantrums. There’s plenty of things in this world I don’t like, but I have to suck it up and deal with it.

  121. i have 10 foot long, 25 year old dreadlocks i am white, far far far from privileged by being white i grew my dreadlocks while meditating on a mountaintop, i lived years without using money..at all and although i make 1/4 of the “poor’ people i know i give more back to the community then most.. now the thing i find absolutely hilarious is the ones with dreads complaining about cultural appropriation isnt the poor rastas who are spiritual and aware but the ‘salon dreads” that spent 20,000 buying thier dreads instead of earning them by letting them form naturally while concentrating on bettering themselves
    these people not only believe race matters (in a minor way it might but it doesnt need to define you) but they believe its all that matters and they are the most extremely racist people i encounter (well except the kkk)
    they are the 1st to call real dreadlocks “shitlocks” if you didnt get them in a salon start using terms like cracker and whitey and telling you what you “deserve” based only on skin color

    one thing people should know about dreadlocks is every culture and every religion wore dreadlocks
    when native americans were “discovered” several tribes wore dreadlocks before having any contact with african or caucasian cultures or races

    now lets also remember that skin color is simple genetics ..not culture

    an extreme example would be a plane crashes in the african wilderness a single white child age 4 survives is raised by wolves hyenas tigers..whatever
    they have a white skin color the culture of the pack of animals that raised them mixed with some of the african tribes they encountered in the wild
    ofcourse this person would have dreads not having a comb they might have a lip disk if a tribe adopted them and introduced them to that practice
    they might eat the diets of whatever animals raised them
    they are a mix of the cultures they come in contact with

    cultures are almost never distinct from 1 another except in extreme isolation
    every tribe that encountered another tribe borrowed from it ..or learned from it
    if this wasnt the case wed only have 1 culture that made baskets another pots another boats another that fished or farmed wed have no progress if cultures didnt learn from eachother

    now speaking of progress isnt it about time we stop all this “you don’t deserve ” crap
    sop blaming skin color for everything

    i wonder this woman bitching about wearing dreads…was she wearing shoes? driving a car? using electricity?
    seems those are all fine to appropriate from white people but not a tattoo or hairstyle4 or peircing?

    spirituality is individual anyone can call themselves a christian buddhist rasta shaman whatever
    but no 2 people will ever believe exactly the same things
    no 2 will practice thier beliefs exactly the same way
    you cant appropriate something that belongs to you and only you

  122. I am a young English girl living in Devon. I have what some people would call ‘dreadlocks’, that is, tangled locks of hair. I recently uploaded some photos of myself to Tumblr. I expected a couple of comments, maybe the odd bullying jibe. I didn’t expect the reaction I got. Suddenly I was being accused of cultural appropriation, branded a racist, jeered at and threatened. Why? Because I am white and I have locked hair. I was shocked. Naively, it hadn’t occured to me that people would look at my hair and presume i’d appropriated black culture.

    You see, i’ve never thought of or called my hair ‘dreadlocks’. To me they are elflocks (or as I call them, simply ‘locks’), and they are an interesting part of my culture, a part of English folklore which can be traced back to at least the 16th century.

    The Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913) defines the word elflock as: ‘hair matted or twisted into a knot as if by elves’

    Wikipedia says: ‘English Folklore: It can refer to tangles of elflocks or fairy-locks in human hair. When young children, especially girls, wake from an evening’s slumber with tangles and snarls in their hair, mothers with a tradition of fairy folklore might whisper to their daughters that they had caught fairy locks or elf-locks. Fairies, they say, tangled and knotted the hairs of the sleeping children as they played in and out of their hair at night. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy-locks

    Our famous English poet William Shakespeare writes of elflocks in his world renowned play Romeo and Juliet, written in 1592, where he talks of the mischeivious fairy, Queen Mab, who tangles people’s hair at night:

    “She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
    In shape no bigger than an agate stone…….

    That plaits the manes of horses in the night
    And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
    Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.“


    As he implies in the line ‘once untangled, much misfortune bodes’, it was said that to undue the tangles would cause bad luck, and so many believers would intentionally leave these locks to continue to tighten (‘dread’) up throughout the rest of their lives.

    But Shakespeare is not the only one to speak of elflocks. Indeed they feature frequently in poetry and literature, both English and otherwise:

    – ‘She wore no hat, and her grizzled black hair streamed in elf locks over her shoulders’ – The Golden Road by Lucy Maud Montgomery, published 1913

    – ‘His jet-black hair hung in elf-locks over his savage-looking features’ Windsor Castle by William Harrison Ainsworth, published 1842

    – ‘ELF-LOCK, tangled hair, supposed to be the work of elves’ Volpone; Or, The Fox by Ben Jonson, first performed 1606

    – ‘But my fingers still grasped my friend’s kind elf-locks, and her goose-nose brooded beside mine upon that water of undivulged delight’ Henry Brocken by Walter J. de la Mare, written 1904

    – ‘His long hair hung in elf locks over his shoulders’ The Heart of the Desert by Honoré Willsie Morrow, written 1913

    – ‘It grew on the hinder part of her head, and was matted together like an elf-lock’ Salem Witchcraft, Volumes I and II by Charles Upham, published 1867

    – ‘The backs of his hands began to grow cold and his unwashed forehead was damp beneath matted, red-brown elf locks’ The Long Roll by Mary Johnston, published 1911

    – ‘She brushed back her elf-locks, and gave a low grunt like some wild beast’ Fairy Book by Sophie May, published 1866

    – ‘Her scarlet kirtle was torn, her hair flying in wild elf-locks, and her face was the face of a mad thing’ Black Amazon of Mars by Leigh Brackett, published 1951

    – ‘Thus, Norna appears in long, gray robe, to which are attached the hood and elf-locks of the witch’ Comic Tragedies by Louisa M. Alcott, published 1893

    – ‘Her face was half hidden by the twigs and leaves, and by her own disarranged hair, which hung in black elf-locks about it’ The Girls of Central High on Track and Field by Gertrude W. Morrison published 1914
    – ‘The soft, cool breeze lifted her dark elf locks, and lingered and cooled her hot brow like a friend’s kiss’ The Actress’ Daughter by May Agnes Fleming, published 1886

    – ‘So too a tangle in the hair was called an “elf-lock,” as being caused by the mischief of the elves’ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 9, Slice 3 by Various, published 1910

    – ‘He was dressed entirely in black, his clothes in disarray, and the thin hair upon his head was matted in fantastic elf-locks with sweat’ House of Torment by Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull, published 1911

    – ‘His unkempt elf-locks were more wild, his uncleanly linen more disordered, his eye more bright and restless, than of yore’ My Lords of Strogue, Vol. II (of III) by Lewis Wingfield, published 1879

    – ‘Tears rolled down her cheeks; blonde elf-locks hung over her eyes’ My Lords of Strogue Vol. III, (of III) by Lewis Wingfield, published 1879

    – ‘Her brows are bound with bracken-fronds,
    And golden elf-locks fly above;
    Her eyes are bright as diamonds
    And bluer than the sky above’
    Merrow Down by Rudyard Kipling, published 1902

    I have known of elflocks for as long as I can remember. As a child, I remember waking up from a peaceful night’s sleep to find my hair wildly tangled, mini locks already forming, already difficult to tease out. My Mother would mutter curses to the fairies as she fought to seperate the strands of hair, and i’d wriggle and squirm and cry every time it pulled.

    I’ve always had an interest in faeries, and in the ancient traditions and folklore of my country, and this has only increased as i’ve gotten older. My hair has never stopped tangling and my resentment at fighting to tease the locks out has only grown. I’ve always known that folklore deemed it bad luck to comb out my elflocks, but as a child, the decision was not mine. As a young adult, I am free to let my hair do it’s natural thing. And it has! The faeries have worked their mischief and my hair has knotted faster than I could have imagined. Whoever believes that caucasian hair cannot lock up by itself is hugely mistaken. I have never backcombed, nor used wax, never crocheted in loose strands nor palm rolled. Save from washing them regularly and seperating them at the roots every once in a while for obvious practical reasons, my locks are entirely the creation of the faeries and of themselves.

    And yes, i’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the way they look. I do. But to me they aren’t simply a fashion statement. They certainly aren’t an attempt to appropriate another’s culture. They are a reflection of my love for my country with all it’s quirky history and tradition, a reflection of my love of folklore and of the fae, a link to fond, magical childhood memories and a desire to let my hair grow as nature intended, free and untamed.

    I cannot claim to speak for all English people with locked hair. I daresay not all of them will have the same reasons, the same motivations as me. But I can say that there is more than one people, more than one culture for whom locked hair is a part of their tradition and a part of their history. Do not take something at face value or judge a book by it’s cover, there may be more to the story.

  123. This conversation has one very important piece missing and it all boils down to one specific single attribute that all of us have within us. This single attribute causes all this pain and suffering. When we feel offended, threatened, act violently, blame, and every other ignorant human behaviour, we are at the mercy of our egos. That is: our identities.

    Identity lets us all believe (notice, I say ‘believe’ because it’s not true) that we are in opposition to another, because some aspect the mind created says “This is me, and I have to protect me. And my people. And my religion. And my ancestors.” etc. This is the cause of separation. What does this have to do with dreadlocks?

    Let’s just say the majority of “black people” (in quotes because these are groups that are linked to identity, yet identity is not real) are against the majority of “white people” wearing dreadlocks, mostly because it is a symbol of the fight against oppression. It has been pointed out that dreadlocks were/are many symbols to many people, including “Sadhus” in India, “Buddhists”, “Jews”, “Sufis”, and so on. But “black people” have chosen this symbol in particular to roll with. It has many consequences for “white people” because of the consequences to “black people” and the accusations run rampant back and forth.

    As an example: many have noted that at work, their hair is a problem – be for the employer or the client or even their co-workers. Dreadlocks are simply a way for a “black person” to tame the hair, and some “white people” don’t find either this or the natural hair to be acceptable for whatever reason. The outcome is to say that since “black hair” isn’t acceptable, that the same should go for “white people” but now from the “black” point of view. The “white” point of view originally offended the “black” point of view which gave rise to two identities firmly locked in place with “race” being the culprit. Since race is the core identity problem in this case, it is all that can be used to go back and forth about the subject without a resolution. “Me, mine, you, yours, ours”. Now we hear “I’m black and I think it’s acceptable” or “I’m white and I think it’s acceptable” and it continues.

    Do we not see how superficial, ludicrous, and egotistical it is to be talking from a point of whiteness or blackness?

    Let’s get rid of identity and dissolve our egos so that no offence be taken by dreadlocks ever again.

  124. My ethicnicity is African (born in USA). I straighten my hair sometimes and sometimes not. So white people can wear dreadlocks in they desire to wear ithem. Cause I’m going to do what I want to with my hair because I can.

  125. Actually,dreadlocks have been worn, traditionally, by whites and people of many cultures, separate from each other, for thousands of years. They were even, worn by the Egyptians as a sign of social stature. King Tut had them. They were usually a sign of a spiritual leader and those who have sworn to uphold the 77 commandments. Christian priests have worn them. Jews have worn them. Buddhists where them. Hindus where them as a sign of their vow to God which is my reason for having them. The only people who you may consider to not be able to wear them are those doing so for NON SPIRITUAL reasons. This article and many responses shows peoples true ignorance on this subject. Many believe they know but have not done the research. They have been worn by just about every major culture in Earth. If you don’t like them, keep it to yourself because your intolerance for culture, whether born into naturally or adapted, is doing nothing but stiring the pot of racism….oh and white people have had plenty of numerous cultures, many today are too ignorant to know, realize or care.

    1. the fact is that you can look up on wiki about dreadlocks. They show ancient people with this hair style, Spartans, Celts, Vikings etc.

      I think blacks are way too sensitive about their hair – and perhaps should keep their noses out of OTHER PEOPLE’s hair for a change.

  126. I agree with JimZyhindu Dreadlocks are not solely an “African American cultural trait” They did not invent them, and were not the first grouping of people to wear them. Dreadlocks have been around for thousands of years, and worn by almost every culture in the world. I’m also so tired of this cultural appropriations shit. Just because, a something is or isn’t commonplace in a culture currently, doesn’t mean that trait started and belongs to that group of people. Discovering and expressing your love of different cultures is a wonderful thing and should be loved. What any group of people do wrong is think they OWN any particular style or idea. For instance, someone not African American wants to have an afro good for them, The fact that they wear an afro isn’t the problem, the problem comes when another culture, I don’t really think its needs to be the majority culture either, just any other culture, exhibits or borrows from another culture, but is a hypocrite and scolds or rejects the same idea/look/knowledge when presented/displayed by that culture It was taken from and those people are made to feel inferior or abhorrent or less desirable. That’s the problem, not cultural borrowing.

  127. What scares me about this whole topic the way it is discussed on the internet (mostly) is the ida of a genetical identity. People actually start saying that other can do this or that IF they can trace part of their ancestry back to some culture. You can wear a kimono if your ancestors were actually Japanese, NOT if you are American but grew up in Japan, “feeling” Japanese. You can wear locks if you look white but have a black grandmother (or father or great-grandfather even?), but not if you are white and have only white ancestors.
    The scary part is that this is very reminiscent of Hitler’s race theory, isn’t it? How Aryan (insert other race here) are you? How can you you prove this, who were your ancestors?
    Also, if this idea of clothes and hairstyles as cultural appropriation is taken seriously, what does that mean for us today?
    If we work in the field of fashion or hairstyle (or just want to express ourselves, which is a huge part of people’s identity today) it would mean to always stick to what “our people”* has done in earlier epochs. We would never be able to change anything, never be allowed to do or invent something in these fields (and others, too!) that does not “trace back to our ancestors”. Our ancestors, of course, WERE influenced by other cultures, as well!

    Another interesting part of the discussion as it is lead on tumblr by many is the restriction put on “whites”. Interestingly, most people talk about races here, not nationalities, even though there are IMHO far more differences between nationalities than “races”. Sticking to the race-restrictions, everybody would be allowed to borrow from “white culture”, that is every culture from different countries were mostly white people have lived, but “whites” would not be allowed to borrow from any other “culture”, because *colonialism*, because of so-called “white supremacy”. If taken seriously, this supremacy would then be at least reduced in the way of self-expression, as everybody taking the concept serious would not be “allowed” to wear, express or do anything that “originated” in another culture. Originated how far back? Who was the originator? So – would we forbid Italians to go on cooking pasta, as these “originated” in Asian nations first?

    Admittedly, a hairstyle or way of dressing is not vital for most people (apart from those working in the business), but a huge part of individual freedom of style and self-expression.
    A culture on the other hand is something we are born to. Some can identify with everything it stands for, others can only partly identify with it, some cannot identify at all. Sometimes, these people emigrate, adopting the life style of another nationality. If this happens to be another “culture”, this would be cultural appropriation.
    So, a Swede who love, say, French culture, could move to France, take up French and French life style and traditions and be fine. A white American or white European who happens to love Black American culture on the other hand would not be “allowed” to do something similar, because *cultural appropriation”. If they still did, this could be defined as “stealing” by the Black community/ies, whereas the French would not be allowed to reproach the Swede/s in a similar way.

    To me, at least some of the anger, especially found on certain tumblr blogs, looks like an excuse to shed anger on others in the name of cultural appropriation.
    If the term did not exist or was unknown to those now accusing mostly whites of CA, would they be as angry?
    Would black people, say, really feel hurt seeing white people wear dreadlocks?

    Reading through certain tumblr blogs it scares me to read a lot of users asking permission to do something based on their genes: “My father/ grandmother/ greatgrandmother is/was xyz, but I am/ look (white, whatever), AM I ALLOWED TO do/ wear …. ?”
    Do we really want to live in a world where random people on the internet get permission to decide – sometimes randomly, too – what we wear, what we do, even how we think, how we define ourselves?
    And – do we REALLY want to define ourselves based on genetics, on our ancestors, on their traditions or how far back we can trace certain habits or styles to “our” culture?

  128. I think it’s time to stop looking at things in terms of race, and start looking at the human species as a whole, I believe everyone has the right to express their selves for who they are, and wear whatever clothes they want, just because African Americans ( me being African American also ) believe we we’re the first to do the dreadlock hairstyle doesn’t mean it’s now forbidden to everyone else in the world, let’s not forget white people are the ones with the straight hair, the fact that us african americans allow ourself to be belittled because of something as minor as our own hair texture is our own fault, if you believe your african ameri an hair textuee is beautiful, then it let it be that way ,just because some white people say something to you about it doesnt mean you have to be weak enough to chemically damage your hair for the sake of others, second off, i believe we’re past a point where we need to conform with society for the sake of a job , so why are we still straightening our hair, simply for cosmetic purposes, so honestly white people with dreadlocks aren’t doing anything different than African Americans with straight hair

  129. Honestly? People like what they like, and some random assignment of cultural appropriation doesn’t make you the originator or owner of some piece of historical intellectual property. Those things have existed for thousands of years and whatever arbitrary meaning you may have assigned to it does not preclude other human beings from assigning their own significance to it. People have their own lives and to deny the validity of their experience by judging their appearance makes you no better than the people who do the same to you. That is the core of hypocrisy.

    What irks me is the demand for similtaneous acknowledgement and preservation of cultural insularity. You have to choose whether you want to be a part of society, or put up on a shelf as a decoration to be seen from afar and admired. Part of the natural evolution of human culture is absorption, and if you can’t accept that you’re going to ruin your life worrying about the insignificant details that in the end are net zero at worst. You only get one, at the end of it there’s oblivion and there’s no second go around, so I would recommend living yours rather than attempting to limit someone else’s.

  130. What irks me is large swash of the black community who recently like to take up a banner of cultural appropriation against any white person with dreadlocks when clearly they do not know the long and varied history of matted hair, around the world, from Africa to Europe..My druidic ancestors wore this style 4000 years ago and probably longer ago in Europe, long before contact with any people of whom they could have taken it from and LOOONGGGGGG before the Rastafarian movement that many like to attach it to and call such cultural appropriation from. So before you articles, check your history and knowledge on the subject.

  131. Hi

    With regards to the ‘punk hairstyle’ of the shaved/ ‘dreadlocks’. They may not necessarily be ‘dreadlocks’- in the 1980s in the hardcore punk scene- instead of having their hair up in liberty spikes, they let the hair spikes fall down and create this knotted hairstyle with the sides shaved. Because the spikes were held up with glue and soap, the hair matter together.

    It has nothing to do with cultural appropriation. This style was ‘crust punk/ anarcho punk’. It has NOTHING to do with dreadlocks. It was just an evolution of the liberty spikes.

  132. Most of the white folks I see wearing dreads are “hippies” using the hairdo as an expression of some alternative lifestyle. Often times the dreads look nasty and unkempt. It seems to me that a lot of people associate dreads with a hippy, dope smoking, marginal way of being and this reflects poorly on those of us who wear locks because they are a convenient, low maintenance, low cost way to wear our natural hair texture. This is what bothers me about white people wearing dreads. Its a sense of “look at how alternative I am! I’m a rebel! I don’t get the same sense from black people who wear dreads, though I’m certain some do have these attitudes. I wear mine because they’re lovely, because they’re natural, because they harken back to my ancestral heritage, and because I have no issues with being a black person. They also enable me to have long hair with wearing a weave, a wig or chemically processing my hair to death.

  133. I am a white lady nearly fifty years old. I wear dreads. Mine are clean and beautiful, and I never started them for fashion or to ‘rebel’. I have met quite a few white people with dreads. Most of them are NOT hippies, rebels, smoke or do drugs. We are all vegan, very peaceful and earth loving souls who have clean and neat dreadlocks.
    We never shout ‘cultural appropriation’ at black ladies with bleached and straightened hair, do we? NO because we are all one earthly family. And it is nobody else’s business how we dress. Clothes, music and hair do not belong to one race… sharing and enjoying the fruits of many cultures should be acceptable. Respect and love for all is what is is about. Too many people need to grow up and embrace each other, we are all humans and should be allowed to express ourselves without getting abused. What a very sad world it is

    1. Agree. This whole “cultural appropriation” new thing is rubbish to the core. Should stores ban blacks from buying hair straightener and hair dye? How about banning them from buying ANY wigs that make their hair look like the hair of all other humans on the planet – i.e., NOT nappy or kinky. Nobody has hair like blacks – and Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair” points that out clearly enough. ALL of those weaves and wigs they buy are made from the hair of NON-black people. How about they get banned from buying or using it. The documentary clearly points this out.

      As I posted elsewhere on here, MANY Europeans in ancient days, including Vikings and Spartans, can be shown in statues having hair done like that.

    2. @Annie. I’m white, btw. What you don’t seem to acknowledge is that black women who wear weave, extensions, straighten their hair, dye their hair blonde are trying to fit into European beauty standards that have been imposed on them by white supremacy.
      It’s a completely different power imbalance, can’t you see that? As whites, we are privileged that our standard of beauty is the ‘norm’ and marketed as superior. Black women are trying to assimilate and fit in. Whites don’t have that pressure to conform.

      The ‘abuse’ you get as a white person for wearing dreads, is petty and insignificant, compared to the abuse black women get for their hair and appearance. It’s a different power dynamic when a black women is hurt by seeing white people with dreads. They have every right to get frustrated.

      Cultural appropriation is when a culture with power- in this case, whites, borrowing from a group with less power and privilege- black people. It’s very simple.

      I think it’s sad that you’re so oblivious to your privilege. And actually yes, clothes and music DO belong to different races. Especially if it’s an expression and extension of their struggle.

      Please, get a clue.

  134. My little sister’s hair knots like dreads on it’s own and her scalp is extremely sensitive and it hurts her to brush it. We are thinking of just creating dreads so it’ll be easier for her and less painful to have rather then brush it out every morning. I was unaware of this controversy over dreadlocks. I grew up in VT where dreads were everywhere and seen on hippie and African american respectfully. Now that I have been made aware of this however I have a hard time doing it to her (she is 11 by the way) if it is going to be seen as racist because that is so far from the reason she would have them, and from who she is. I am concerned not only for the sake of the mindset of onlookers but especially if she may get harassed for them. She is pathologically shy and if someone confronts her about it she is unable to explain herself. like I said though locs happen naturally in her hair because its so thick but i’m having a hard time because I don’t want to do anything that may be seen as cultural appropriation.
    as a final thought, we are both mutts (genetically speaking) but are manly Italian, native american, and french. Because of this mix I find it hard to claim a culture without feeling that it is stealing even though it is a culture to which I have ties. My main question is, how can this be helped? Can it, or because I am seen as white will I always be looked at as someone who has stolen a culture even if it genetically and spiritually my own?

    1. Jewish is also a culture and a religion to which I am a part of. Correct me if I am wrong but do we not also have strong ties to dreads?

      also if I come across as rude I truly apologies. I admit I am ignorant on this matter and wish to be better informed.

      1. You’re fine. Black people didn’t even start dreads. You’re perfectly fine. Marley never assaulted or pointed out any of the thousands of white people that went to his concerts with Dreads, and neither did any of the people in the crowds. If you apply their logic, they should give the middle east their Christianity back to Judea. And go back to their drums and magic. Obviously that’s just a sarcastic reference. I have nothing against any decently intelligent person, regardless of their skin color.

  135. If someone say that you can’t have dreadlocks because it’s blacks culture, they are wrong. Dreadlocks isn’t black culture only, there have been dreads around the world before blacks even meet whites. It’s natural thing what happen when you don’t comb your hair. You are just racist if you think like that, nothing else. And yeah black people can be racist too, we are all humans. Color doesnt matter anything. And there is no black or white culture, there is only different human group culture where you born from.

  136. Oh hey. Did you know dreadlocks were worn by Buddhist monks for thousands of years? Did you know you’re being completely racist? Did ou know that dreadlocks were worn. Y fucking neanderthals before black people? Did you know we ALL from the continent of Africa? Do you know racenisnand always has been a social construct to keep people divided? You ever wanna make shit better? Er over this trivial shit and move on to something that matters. It’s fucking hair. Dreadlocking is what ALL hair does when left to its own devices, without comb or brush.

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