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Dreadlocks And Individualism Essay

1629 words - 7 pages

Dreadlocks and Individualism

Imagine having the flexibility of wearing your hair loose and flowing. . .maybe pulled back in a simple rubber band, or allowing your long locks to swing expressively in front of your face. It's a natural feeling and style, that epitomizes your love for individualism, they are your Dreadlocks. The art of dreadlocks can be traced back to the Ancient Caribbean islands such as Jamaica where they were fine tuned to perfection by Rastafarians. Here at Syracuse University, students give a new meaning to what it is like to be a part of the dreadlock society without having to be a Rastafarian, a black radicalist, or politically correct. In fact, being able to be ...view middle of the document...

This is a common assumption; However, it is not always accurate. Another stereotype that people link to having dreads according to Professor Safiya Henderson-Holmes is, "People think I am anti-white, angry, black militant, or a drug user. . .I am always being searched extensively by cops when at airports. . .I'm not taken seriously." Henderson-Holmes agrees that dreadlocks carry a lot of negative associations; however, she will not cut them until she gets tired of them. She also feels that her locks accentuates her value for life, "to be creative, complex, live, love, and the pursuit of happiness."

While these people who stray off the mainstream hair trends seen on campus, encounter the prejudices associated with having dreadlocks, there are always exceptions. Not everyone with dreadlocks is bound to face biases. As proven by Daoud Sekou Abeld who feels he doesn't face any prejudices as a result of his willing to be an individual, "My dreads force 'them' to bare witness to the fact that I know, practice, and understand who I am."

So the question is asked, do people who wear dreadlocks have a stronger sense of identity than those who don't? Do they really have a deeper awareness for their culture? As stated by a popular magazine, Young Sisters and Brothers: the Afro-centric special of October 1993, ". . .as for their identities they are a unique set of individuals who see themselves as warriors for awareness and spiritual upliftment. Individualism is their identity which comes into play when you learn what needs to be done by educating yourself." In other words, a person with dreadlocks is associated with culture and their ability to express their individualism through their dreads shows the rest of us their strong sense of identity and like Abeld says, "understand of who I am."

A common lock amongst societal members here at Syracuse University is their flair for being natural. According to Professor Henderson-Holmes, "They are natural and aesthetic. It's an art form from the African texture in our hair which allows the hair to form dreadlocks and be at its most natural state." Dreadlock members exemplify their "naturality" through style, fashion, and even the colors that they wear. The style that would seem most typical would be the everyday use of African garb and head wraps to cover the dreads, like the Rastafarian tradition for women. However, here at Syracuse University no Rastafarians were found with dreadlocks. In fact, most of the members admitted to dressing anyway they feel. Daoud Sekon Abeld, who is a part of the brothers of the 5% nation of Islam, refers to his dress as an "Urban Camouflage" with rugged wear. Most colors that are worn by the members are the colors you'll find in nature. Forest green, variations of brown, and blues bring them closer to their sense of being natural and closer to mother earth, while maintaining their individuality. The entire fashion of a dreadlock member is found to be very simple and...

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