June 12th, 2002

fred says LOOK!

(no subject)

I posted this to a dreadlock site last year. inspired by nairamdal_park post today here it goes again.

I started late, in life, growing my dreads. I started late when I decided to stop; trying to comb my hair or getting very short hair cuts that didn't really fit my personality or stylee.

Background:
My hair was always the nappiest of nappy hair and it still is i guess. My mother would question me every morning about whether or not I had combed it. Making me comb it again; 10 minutes later it would look like I never combed it. I laugh sometimes about how many combs I broke too. Funny but I had wanted dreads since I was 12 after seeing Bob Marley and other reggae groups photos on album covers. I've been growning them for the past 10 years now and have never looked back.


My good friend and neighbor, Nazzree, who had very nice dreads was my mentor. One day I worked up the courage, after missing my bi-weekly hair cutting appt, to ask him about his dreads. A large smile wrapped around his face as I asked him how I too could grow the dreads. "Man I've been waiting for you to ask me that very question since I met you my young lion. I was wondering how long it would take you to make the jump."

He told me to stop combing my hair but regularly wash and oil it. He also told me I had to water it everyday because "Roots grow from your heart, not from your head. Plants need water and so do your Roots." I was also instructed to do this for a month and come see him when the time was up.

Luckly, I had a nice black beret to wear during my month of noncombing. Dutifully I wash, oiled and watered my hair. Unless I was home; I usually wore my beret cause my ol-lady couldn't stand the way my hair looked. Expectantly I also watched for changes to occur. The month passed and Nazzree gave me the okeh. I worked 2nd shift that day but it didn't matter. I came home staying up til 4 am that night washing, oiling and finally twisting my hair up. Damn; my fingers were tired and sore. Nazzree told me to twist them everytime I washed my hair after oiling it. He also stressed the importance of keeping the watering up every morning too.

My dreads locked up within a month but would stand straight and tall. I was still wearing the beret in public. It took another 3 or 4 months before they dropped getting heavier and longer while making me happier. I stopped twisting after the inital month, unless I was nervous having found a special "favorite dread" to play with. It was the phatest one. I went through the "let me touch them" phases to the admonishing looks from co-workers and family memebers.

My Grandmother, Ja rest her soul would always offer my money to cut "that shit out of your hair boy". I think she kept a 50 dollar bill in her purse just for these occasions. Those request would instigate talks concerning her attitude towards my hair and our blackness as a whole. I would say, "Grandma, my hair wasn't meant to be combed. It was sooo nappy and rough looking. My hair isn't straight and I don't want a perm. Why should I go through so much pain to make myself look right for whites." She would never give an inch on her view. I ended the conversation with; "well, Grandma I don't wear suntan lotion either."

Once I survived my family, having other people look at me really never mattered. Look but don't try to touch is my mantra.

Finally: I never ever got a compliment concerning how my hair looked until I grew the dreads. Not a day seems to go by without someone stopping me to admire them and talk about them. I too wear the large knit hats to keep them off my neck and make people wonder just what is under there. I try to be understanding but I don't really do request. That means if you demand i take my hat off for your enjoyment it ain't going to happen. I'm not an entertainer on a stage, so I don't do rude request.

Nazzree left me with a couple cavets concerning dreads and I'll pass them on. (remember this is one, well maybe a couple of dread's opinions).

1. "Once you grow them, then you'll find out why they call them dreadlocks." This was after I asked him the why the name "dread".

2. "Dreadlocks aren't for everyone to see and shouldn't be flying around all the time." Whenever I'm meeting people or in strange surrounding I usually wear my hat. I share my dreads with friends, family unless the weather is very hot.

3. I had another friend from the island of St. Kit, named Leecrash. One time I was having women problems and I called him for help. He laugh and told me " No rasta needs help with women. You're on your own", the he hung up the phone. I turned around and looked at both the women and thought to myself, yes he's right!
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My English Assignment

Hey, a lot of this may seem fairly obvious to you dreads out there, but I had to explain things to my english teacher:


Reconciliation is the word that springs to my mind when I consider the state of my twisted, knotted hair. About fourteen months ago, I had my hair styled into dreadlocks. I had desperately pleaded with my reluctant mother to allow me to undertake this unusual choice. Ever since I was a twelve year-old reggae fanatic and had admired the look on my favorite musicians. She was understandably concerned; about how I would be perceived, if dreadlocks would interfere with my process of being admitted into a college, if I would be able to keep them clean. After several arguments and explanations about how to resolve these matters, I delivered my ultimatum. My sixteenth birthday was approaching. If I couldn’t have permission, I didn’t want anything. The burden of the guilt of thinking of me turning sixteen with nothing to celebrate it with finally persuaded her.
My ecstasy was met with mixed reactions. I frantically called my thirty-five closest friends proclaiming, “I’m dreadlocking my hair!” some shared in my ebullience while others seemed to express concerns analogous with those of my mother’s.
After scurrying all over Queens and Manhattan getting “consultations” and less formal advice, I settled on having Thembeni, an aspiring singer and friend-of-a-friend, to help me get started. The process itself is surprisingly simple: Thembeni sectioned my hair, combed it towards its roots, and twisted each section with a small amount of wax. The best part was hearing Thembeni sing while she worked. Even though I was overjoyed to see my hair in twists, I realized that this was only the first step in a lengthy process.
Before I locked it, I had never actually liked my hair. It was frizzy and kind of stringy, and I used to blow-dry it straight, which it wouldn’t ever remain. Certainly, I was “liberated” enough to know intellectually that I should be proud of the natural state of my hair, but emotionally, I felt it was ugly. I tortured my follicles with chemicals and too much heat, all for the sake of seeming prettier—it took me awhile to internalize that I am incapable of finding manifestations of self-hatred “pretty”. If I let my hair dry naturally, it would curl and mystically expand, and I would not like to be seen like this. Looking back on how deeply vestiges of cultural prejudices fueled by corporate interests affected my self-image, I am horrified.
I met a man with dreadlocked hair several years ago, and we discussed his experiences with the style. He felt like “a tree in the wind” when he went swimming in the ocean, because his dreadlocks swayed with the current. I have since met scores of people who have had dreadlocks, want dreadlocks, like dreadlocks, or want to feel mine out of curiosity. One of the things I love most about dreadlocks is that everyone’s are unique. Dreadlocks vary in width, length, texture, fullness, color, and odor, and some are even decorated with beads. There are also a plethora of ways to make dreads, some people let their hair matte and then twist it, some use glue to hold their dreads together. Overall, it is a very individualized process.
My hair is now related to me, it has meaning and beauty, it represents my personality, and I love it. I love the way it feels against the back of my neck when I’m dancing or running. I love the way it is fluid, and expands with frizz until I twist each lock with pomade. I love the way my dreadlocks look with my favorite t-shirt. I love the fact that I chose a relatively uncommon path, and that my image is now somewhat more reflective of my attitude and ideas. I love that, as I am exploring and forming my identity, I am able to love a representation of it.