Saturday, October 29, 2016

Dreadlocks: Whose Braids Are These? Does Simple Skin Color Own This Beautiful Hairstyle of Expression?

Recently, there was a headline on the internet that attracted my attention and curiosity. Perhaps, it attracted yours, too out of curiosity. “White Teen Sent Home from School for Braids, Dad Blames ‘Racism Against Their Own’”
See link to original news story:

Do you see a problem here with her hair? I don't.
     It seems that a young woman, Chenise Benson was sent home from school after showing up with her new box braids, which apparently are a violation of school dress code. (Photo: SWNS) The issue? She allegedly broke the school dress code with her new extensions: bright white, waist-length braids that she got on her birthday. Her father, Darren Benson, who tells SWNS that he paid $170 for the braids, which “will stay in her hair for a year so it won’t be coming out.  One of her friends at the school, who has Jamaican heritage, has the same style of haircut but with a red stripe in it rather than white, and she has been allowed to remain,” Benson noted, inferring a double standard was at play for his daughter, who is white. He added, “I’ve read the policy regarding haircuts, and I can’t see what rule she has broken.”

      “The school policy posted to the school’s website says the following: “Please note we do not allow extreme, unnatural hairstyles or coloring. Any hair accessories should be of a practical nature and should not be decorative. If you are in doubt please contact your child’s Tutor at the School. … Please be aware that what is and is not acceptable will be decided by the School in line with this Policy and the School’s decision is final. Please note that in sending your child to George Pindar School that you are agreeing to ensure your child abides by this policy. If you have any queries or questions regarding any aspect of uniform, jewelry, hairstyle, please could you contact the School.” So, I’m guessing here that the problem the school has is that this “white” girl is not “wearing” her natural hairstyle or coloring. But what about the Jamaican girl with a red stripe in her hair? Is that natural? What about celebrating heritage and beauty? What about celebrating individuality? What is the real problem with the white girl’s hair? Who is it actually offending? Her “black” friend isn’t offended by the hair style. Why is the school up in arms? Has the world become so petty and so easily offended that we now deny our children freedom of healthy expression? And what if the girl had it done for religious reasons, would the school deny her the freedom of religious expression? Does this girl's Jamaican friend have more of a right to wear this hairstyle than this girl does? Define natural and unnatural. Is the hair hers or is it artificial extensions? How come the rules apply to just this "white" girl and not her "black" friend, if her Jamaican friend is black? FYI: Not all people from Jamaica is black. That's another assumption.

       The father thinks it’s racism, and perhaps, it is since they don’t have a problem with the girl’s Jamaican friend and her same hairstyle. Personally, I wouldn’t do it to my hair. On many visits to the Caribbean over the years while sitting on various beaches, women would come by, black women, and offer to braid my hair this same way. First, I wasn’t interested because my hair is very fine and it just wouldn’t hold. Second, personally, I wouldn’t like the way they would look on me. Third, I simply didn’t want it. However, I certainly wouldn’t deny someone else to do so with their hair. Someone on twitter called the hairstyle on a white girl “Cultural appropriation.” WTH?!! Come on, now.  Get serious. Do hair braids, extensions, dreadlocks belong only to a minority, one people, one race? No, they don’t, and if you take a look at history, or visit the Caribbean especially Jamaica, you'll see for yourself that it doesn't. As I said, women repeatedly wanted to braid my hair the same way and I don’t look black.  I think that aside from the money point of view, they wanted to share a bit of their heritage, and isn't that a good thing?
Stone with Israelis.

     It is important to note that dreadlocks or box braids, do not belong to one particular group of people. History shows us that. In fact, “the roots of dreadlocks can be trailed to the Rastafarians of Jamaica, and further, to Indian sages and yogis, but they have never been more popular or widespread than they are today. It is said that dreadlocks originated with these eastern holy men. Possessing nothing, renouncing the world and possessions (not even a comb) they eschewed even personal grooming, hence the inevitable dreadlocks. Dreadlocks get their name from Jamaican tradition. Those with ‘natty’ locks in their hair were to be dreaded, or feared. When slavery was abolished in the US, it was no longer legal to enslave African Americans. But good ol’ America found a loop hole, no one said anything about not enslaving native peoples of India.”
 Culture Drawing.

    “The Old Testament in the Bible also recounts the tale of Samson and Delilah in which a man's potency is directly linked to 'the seven locks on his head' and according to Roman accounts, the Celts were described to have 'hair like snakes' Germanic tribes, Greeks and the Vikings are all said to have worn dreadlocks too.” (
Native American.

     “In Ancient Greece, kouros sculptures from the Archaic period depict men wearing dreadlocks while Spartan hoplites (generally described as fair-haired)wore formal locks as part of their battle dress. Spartan magistrates known as Ephors also wore their hair braided in long locks, an Archaic Greek tradition that was steadily abandoned in other Greek kingdoms. The style was worn by Ancient Christian Ascetics, and the Dervishes of Islam, among others.  Some of the very earliest Christians also may have worn this hairstyle; there are descriptions of James the Just, first Bishop of Jerusalem, who is said to have worn them to his ankles. Pre-Columbian Aztec priests were described in Aztec codices (including the Durán Codex, the Codex Tudela and the Codex Mendoza) as wearing their hair untouched, allowing it to grow long and matted.” (Wikipedia)

     In Senegal, the Baye Fall, followers of the Mouride movement, a Sufi movement of Islam founded in 1887 by Shaykh Aamadu Bàmba Mbàkke, are famous for growing locks and wearing multi-colored gowns.[18] Cheikh Ibra Fall, founder of the Baye Fall school of the Mouride Brotherhood, popularized the style by adding a mystic touch to it. Warriors among the Fulani, Wolof and Serer in Mauritania, and Mandinka in Mali and Niger were known for centuries to have worn cornrows when young and dreadlocks when old.”(Wikipedia)
 Bob Marley.

      Not to forget, that that dreadlocks were made even more popular by singer Bob Marley. “There hasn’t been a human like him ever before, and there will likely not be ’til the close of time. Bob Marley radiated love, peace, passion, and wisdom. He also have the best dreadlocks ever! Bob dedicated his life to praising God in music, and spreading the message of reform and spiritual growth in the world.”(History of dreadlocks)

      Even Ebony magazine had a say about Dreadlocks and race: “Dreadlocks can be traced to just about every civilization in history,” says Chimere Faulk, an Atlanta-based natural hair stylist and owner of Dr. Locs. “No matter the race, you will find a connection to having dreadlocks for spiritual reasons.”

     Read more at EBONY
     “Dreads have always been worn to make a statement. For many, they’re spiritual and they symbolize the letting go of material possessions. For others, they’re political and a way to rebel against conformity and the status quo. Some just like the way they look. And that’s OK, too.

     What’s not OK? The way mainstream media perceives dreads when they appear on white versus Black folks. It’s upsetting how Giuliana Rancic equated Zendaya’s locs with smelling like weed and oil, but deemed Kylie Jenner’s locs as “edgy….. Every person with dreads is not a smoker who listens to Reggae music, contrary to popular (and foolish) belief. Similarly, you don’t have to be Rasta to wear locs and not wearing locs certainly doesn’t make someone less Rasta. Locs are not dirty, and they’re not something that should be feared. They’re beautiful, bold and regal. The epitome of freedom. Locs are divine.

      They are anything but dreadful.” (Ebony)

      And on that note, this young girl simply wanted to do something different with her hair. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and if that is so, perhaps those that are offended by her “culturally appropriating” the hairstyle should instead be flattered that she chose to wear a hairstyle that many wouldn’t like to get themselves and instead make this girl an outcast now. She meant no harm. Give her a break. Personally, I think that dreadlocks or braids are a beautiful expression of one’s self. In researching this subject, I learned a great deal and have come to appreciate the history behind this hairstyle.  That’s just my humble opinion anyway. What do you think? Do you think this girl did something wrong? Why or why not? How do you feel about the whole thing? Do you find it offensive? Why or why not? I do know that when we all stop looking at things as "black vs. white", this world and all of us will be better for it.
Ancient Greek Kouros Sculpture.

     Would you like to learn more about Dreadlocks and the history behind them?

     Read more:

 That’s it for this time. Thank you all for visiting with us. Until next month, every one please stay safe. Smile. Be happy. Show compassion. Be nice to others. Put a little love into your heart. Please speak up for those without a voice, whether it be a dog, cat, elephant or monkey.  One person, one voice can make a difference. Read a book. Review it. Share it. Pass it along.

Make adoption your first option when seeking a pet. Adopt. Don’t shop. Can’t adopt. Please consider fostering one. The animal will have the taste of home and the shelter will cover the expenses. Can’t foster? Make a donation or volunteer at your local shelter. Please, don’t hunt. Unless you’re starving down in a ditch somewhere, there is no logical reason to do so. Whatever you do, however you do it, please be a voice for the animals large and small. All it takes is one to make a difference, good or bad. 
                                    Together, you and I can make a difference. If you like what you see here, please consider signing up to become a follower. Please feel free to share this post with others.
S.J. Francis

    In Shattered Lies: "Good and bad, it's All About Family."  Available now from Black Opal Books and for sale at on-line retailers and independent booksellers. “Some secrets should remain that way.” 
    My web page:  
                  My writing Blog: 

          A Book Review 4 U:  
                  A Consumer's View: 
One for the Animals blog:                          

                 Google Plus: 
And now for some legal stuff: Copyright 2016 by S.J. Francis. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, S. J. Francis and are meant to entertain, inform and enlighten, and intend to offend no one.