The Way I See It Today: This is Me. Take It or Leave It.


Taken 10-22-2010 in Jersey City, NJ

I started my own loc journey 8 years ago this month.  I cut off my relaxed (and badly damaged and stressed out)  hair, wore a short Afro and then took the plunge, never looking back, and never regretting my decision to stop relaxing my hair.  They’ve been much longer, but right now, I’m wearing them red and short, after cutting them for the last time last month.  My locs have become a part of me in a way that is hard to explain, but when I’m stressed out by negative energy, my locs will tell me in their own special way to make some changes, quick fast and in a hurry.  And once I make the necessary spiritual and mental adjustments, my locs course-correct on their own.

Anyway, to commemorate the 8 years of wearing my hair this way, I’m reading a book entitled Dreads by Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano.  Author Alice Walker wrote the introduction.  The book takes the reader on a journey around the world, from New York to Jamaica to New Zealand and India, of what it means to loc one’s hair.

Throughout history, hair has always been a battleground, where the cultural met (and clashed with) the spiritual and the spiritual met (and fought with) the political.   For for all who wear locs (and those who love us), our hair represents freedom and independence from what Westerners have socialized us to believe, that hair (particularly kinky hair, regardless of race or ethnicity), symbolic of the wearer’s indomitable will and fiery spirit, should be tamed, subjugated, conquered and made to submit. 

And submit we did, especially if you wished to reap the rewards that Western society choses to bestow on those who conform.  But is it really worth it?  Check out this NY Times article if you dare.

At any rate, here are some quotes from people profiled in the book that really inspired me to finish retouching my self-portrait:

“Our hair is symbolic of our status as servants.” (Mamadou Diof Ndiange, Baye Fall Elder, Senegal)

“…Locks connect me to the land of wood and water…” (Peter Wayne Lewis, painter, NYC)

“Father created the man:  Man created the comb.” (Jimmy McGhan, Rasta, Jamaica)

“Dreads reaffirm my status as a chosen one, a child of Africa.” (Pierre Thiam, chef, Senegal)

“My dreads cannot be ignored, my message cannot be ignored.” (Chinna Smith, musician, Jamaica)

 “You don’t have to have straight hair to be beautiful.” (Cheryl Brown, model, NYC)

“Society is not geared toward giving us confidence.” (Maxine Walters, film producer, Jamaica)

“I wear Ndiagne, ‘strong hair.'” (Amadou, Baye Fall, Senegal)

“I had two choices:  Go bald or grow locks.” (Hilda Thompson, market researcher, NYC)

“I believe in the rules of decorum, so, what the hell, I’ll put on a suit if the occasion calls for it.  If they say you have to wear a tie to get into their restaurant, fine.  But if they say you have to cut your hair to do business with them, not so fine.” (Nile Rodgers, music producer, NYC)

“Many Jamaicans were imprisoned simply because they wore dreads.  Not everyone who has dreads today realizes the political history attached to them.” (“Junior” Marvin, musician, Jamaica)

“Dreads were a way of embracing the evolving idea of myself.” (Vernon Reid, musician, NYC)

And yes, we do wash our hair.  🙂

Peace and blessings.

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. theobsidianfiles says:

    Very nice post and pic!

    O.

    1. Thank you.

      1. Charlotte says:

        Very refreshing arcltie, thank you for sharing. I am a natural sistah who is an MD at UWMC. There are two other sistahs who are natural ( both with locs) who are also MDs. We are here , just not in large numbers. If I bump into you I WILL say hello.

  2. Zuri says:

    Hey TS,
    this was an AWESOME blog! I tell people each loc on my head is a path to a journey I have traveled. My hair is truly a sign of patience. AND yea, I do shampoo my hair. It is no different than “normal” hair. YES, my friend, my hair tells a story that I can’t tell at times. When I am allowing the everyday stressors suppress my thoughts and I find myself grinding my teeth….my hair seem to take part of the hit. TS I will most likely add more replies when I get the crazy looks, the stares and yes the wicked questions……THANKS FOR UNDERSTANDING MY HAIR TS.

    1. Hey Zuri, thanks for your comments. It’s funny because we started our loc journeys around the same time, and I’ve cut mine several times since then in an attempt to have “perfect” locs. Well, no more. I ain’t cutting my hair…I will “cut out” people and situations that stress me out, and I think that’s the lesson. If we spent more time being more attuned to our bodies and the signs it gives when it’s under stress instead of trying to please toxic people, we’ll be better off.

      I wanted to take a self-portrait to commemorate the occasion, and to remind me that I will never allow myself to get so stressed out that I have to cut off a part of myself.

      At any rate, peace and blessings, sis.

  3. chicnoir says:

    Anyway, to commemorate the 8 years of wearing my hair this way, I’m reading a book entitled Dreads by Francesco Mastalia and Alfonse Pagano

    I read this book a few years ago & I liked it a lot. The photograhpy was stunning.

    Do you have sister locks?

    1. no, just very small ones. I started them myself years ago…

      1. chic noir says:

        that’s better than going to some of these locticians who try to run the okie dok.

        What do you use for their upkeep?

      2. Carol’s Daughter mostly. I don’t use gels or anything anymore when I retwist. I wash ’em, retwist them, and pin them down to air dry….that’s all. The less I put on them the better. Took me 8 years to learn that lesson.

  4. chicnoir says:

    If we spent more time being more attuned to our bodies and the signs it gives when it’s under stress instead of trying to please toxic people, we’ll be better off.

    *chic noir throws up church fan in the process sends Easter Sunday hat flying*

    Preach sister preach.

    You know it never ceases to amaze me how so many of our people are convinced there is something wrong with the hair that grows out of our scalps*. I mean, we have blk surgeons who are intelligent enough to know how to bring someone back to life but these same surgeons walk around thinking there’s something wrong with the hair God gave them.

    *painter Bob strawman

    1. two words: self. hatred.

      1. chic noir says:

        word!

  5. chicnoir says:

    I remember seeing a guy with really nice locs in the Carrols’ daughter store buying her wax butter. So I went to look at the ingredients and I saw that bees wax is in it. Many lock wearers say bees wax is not for locs. I guess that just goes to show, you have to test thing for yourself sometimes.

  6. Natrodisiac says:

    good blog! I bought the book a few months ago because I was looking for material out there on dreads. The book is awesome. Believe it or not, it (the book) linked me to your blog. I was doing so research and ran across your blog in Google’s search engine. Get putting the information out there as you have.

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