10/23 Post

So this week was about hair. In a kind of hilarious way I naturally felt that this discussion was one I had to participate in. Hair has always been a defining characteristic of my own identity–I’ve never been one to be content with a standard haircut. In watching the film about dreadlocks, I was inspired to think about my own locks and revaluate the importance of them to myself. This summer I spent a lot of time thinking about changing up my hair, and also kind of battling about whether or not being White and having dreadlocks is a form of cultural appropriation. I’ve come to the conclusion that my dreads are here to stay for a little while longer, and that I don’t personally believe that they are appropriation given the reasons I wear them, but I’d be open to hearing other opinions. In my mind, hair is a cool form of artistry, but as I become more and more aware of the societal perceptions of hair, I’ve realized that my hair is a statement–this is something I struggle with. To me, dreadlocks are beautiful symbols of understanding and open-mindedness, in a Rastafarian sense, dreadlocks are an emblem of love and spirituality of the mind, yet society has a very different perception of dreads, and a different perception of me. Instead of seeing me for who I am, I am labelled a stoner, an unintellectual being, and being white I think also earns me the label of failure–you can’t possible succeed in a white world while wearing (alliteration bonus?) a hairstyle that “so clearly” is counter-cultural. Knowing that the community I was born into rejects this about me is both empowering and sad, while I don’t seek to lose a connection to that society, I am also unwilling to change myself to conform to their norms. I would see that change as a sacrifice and a loss of a part of myself. This is the debate I face with my hair, and I’m not too upset about it, but at the end of the day I think I won’t change until I actively want to, and that’s how it is!

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2 thoughts on “10/23 Post

  1. Hey Sarge, That’s great that you are unwilling to conform to the expectations of society and, more specifically, your community because you shouldn’t have to. It’s unfortunate though that you have to deal with people’s false assumptions about your character on the basis of your dreads and criticism from your white community and beyond for being white and wearing dreads. This type of criticism reminds me of the criticism and shaming that transgender women face. Since men are automatically privileged in their gender, one reason that transgender women confront much backlash for transitioning to a woman is because there is a loss of privilege. Along the same lines, white people may view other white people wearing braids as a loss of privilege because dreads are associated with black culture which is seen as an inferior culture. On the other hand, cultural appropriation certainly exists but as discussed in the More Than Hair meeting yesterday, a person’s intentions lie at the heart of it and make the difference between whether someone is appropriating another culture or not. Given your acknowledgement of the roots of dreads and your awareness of its history, I personally don’t think that you are appropriating black culture by wearing dreads. Keep doing you!

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  2. Hi Sarge. I don’t think that your hair is cultural appropriation because you understand and respect the culture behind it and have your own reasons for locking your hair. I actually think that your hair is lovely which you would have probably picked up by now from me creeping you out with my stares and restrained urge to molest your hair with my fingers (which I will not do because that will just be plain rude). It is unfortunate and sad that your own race is rejecting the person that you are because you chose to accept and adopt something from a different culture as part of your identity. I also hope that you will always keep how that makes you feel in mind so that you can use it to accept others no matter how different they seem to you because you have been on the receiving end of the shunning. I’m glad that you decided to keep your hair because as you said, you are Sarge, the guy with the dreads and your dreads have given you an unspoken connection and sense of community with Travis, the other guy on campus with dreads. In the future when you do decide to cut it all off, I hope that you make that decision for you; I hope that you don’t make it because you are going to a job interview and are worried that they won’t hire you, or because a significant other told you that she didn’t like it and gave you an ultimatum to choose. Anyways, keep doing and being you.

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