My most popular blog entry by far is the one called Life After Dreads: the First 24 Hours. I thought this was because there were quite a few people who were interested in what the result is when you chop off your dreadlocks. The entry is just about that.
However, a couple of weeks ago, a reader commented that I should make it known that I’m white and what my hair type is. I suddenly was struck by the implications of the blog post title. This could very well be seen as a potential social commentary, especially regarding the way society responds to black people with dreadlocks.
With this in mind, I wanted to make a much-delayed response. Since I had dreads I have completed two years at a community college which has opened my eyes to more issues regarding the social injustices of the world, as well as appropriation. The latter is something I’m still coming to terms with because part of me is having the hurt girl voice of “why can’t I play?” when it comes to dreadlocks and wearing bhindis. However, that’s exactly the point. The groups who have these cool styles and the like haven’t been able to play, and now I want to play with the toy they’re playing with and I have to be told that I can’t.
And it’s damn frustrating! Again, that’s (in part) the point. It is frustrating. It’s frustrating that people of other groups have been oppressed and told they can’t wear their hair a certain way, speak their inherited language, practice their faith for hundreds of years. Members of the oppressing culture are in turn taking certain elements of the oppressed and using them how they’d like to use them, while still reprimanding the oppressed for doing the same thing.
So whereas I do generally fall under the rule of treat others how you’d like to be treated, this has been necessary—for me at least. My want for being inoffensive keeps me from doing what I want to do, which is dread my hair again or wear a bhindi when I’m going for a night out. But being told that I can’t, and me struggling between “screw it, I’m going to any way” and not wanting to be disruptive of hurt other people is aggressive. I suddenly realized that it wasn’t about me. It’s not about me at all. And this wanting to play but not being able to is what the oppressed have been experiencing for far too long. It was shocking how long it got me to come around to this realization, in all honesty.
(Note the irony where I just wrote a whole blog post about myself so that I could tell the world it’s not about me)
I could see how my initial post could be click-bait, seen as something that one might look for as an analysis of the experience a person of color might have after they cut off their dreads, and I could see it turned into a metaphor, or as deep and powerful social commentary (of course if coming from the right narrator, which would not be me). But nay, it is my naïve self from three years past. So, my apologies to anyone who clicked on the entry looking for something less superficial and privileged.