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.
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.