White people with dreadlocks = No.

This is the post about white people with dreadlocks.  This is the post about white people who just don’t get the possibility that they could be doing something colonialist.  This is the post written by someone who looks very much like a Nice White Lady but who is actually a white lady who thinks it is really, really, really – like intensely – fun to piss off the old boys club of “radical” movements.

The first question I always get when I talk about white boys with dreadlocks is: why am I so hell-bent on oppressing them?  WHY DO I HATE THEM SO?

(Sigh.)   There are lots of places to start with this.  The first is that I am not, in fact, oppressing them.  Did you hear that?  Calling someone out on something racist that they do is.  Not.  Oppression. And why is it racist?  Why should you, oh emergent gentrifying white dude, not have dreadlocks?  Well, there’s this fabulous zine that you can read created by Qwo-Li Driskill and Colin Kennedy Donovan for Planting Seeds Community Awareness Project here: http://zinelibrary.info/files/dreads.pdf. Please, please go read it.  I mean, this basically tells you everything you need to know about not having dreads.  But I’ll elaborate anyway.  Because we’re seeing white boys do this in a new “progressive” arena, where they’re all talking about being outside the law or whatever, beholden only to Christ or whatever, while they’re maintaining and justifying racist hair. There’s a few interlocking arguments that I hear a lot about why we should be chill with white dude colonizers with dreads. The first one goes something along the lines of “but historically some Caucasian peoples have had dreadlocks, and you can’t just ERASE their history, and dreadlocks are not just about black people in the U.S.”  OK, I get it, some white people’s hair dreads easily.  I get it.  Some people in the “Caucasoid” category (and we know that particular construction of race is culturally located, right? This does NOT mean that ” race is a social construction, I can ignore it safely because it has no ‘real’ effects”.  The opposite is true, in fact.  Race is very real, and very much defined by the history, language, and politics of a place) can dread really easily.  Does this mean they SHOULD?  No.

Another goes something like “dreads are cool.”  This doesn’t even deserve a breakdown.  White people have this terrible, awful, no-good habit of trying to take everyone else’s “authenticity” because they feel so like lost and indie and culturally dislocated and their poor little selves are so tired, because they have all this power and it’s so exhausting.  This is related, but not limited to, white people wearing headdresses, white people throwing “pimps and hos” parties (and the million fucking pictures of white people on Facebook throwing fake gang signs for like their high school mascots), and the Trailor Park Lounge in NYC.

Another enjoyable response is “but, um, there’s debate in the black community about this, so, um, until that’s resolved, I’ll just keep my colonialist hair, thanks.”  Is there also debate in the women community about whether or not it’s OK to call women bitches?  Because did you know?  Some women use the word bitch to refer to one another!  Obviously this means that dudes have total permission to call ladies bitches, right?

Another is simply about how because their movement is “progressive”, it’s not possible for anyone who’s popular within it to be doing something anti-revolutionary.  Since they keep using the words “anarchist” and “revolution” in their propaganda – excuse me, viral marketing – they must be doing something that’s actually bringing about the liberation of all people, right?  Except for that tiny detail about how in “progressive” movements, the lives and voices of women of color are consistently erased.  We see this happening in the “emergent/ing” church culture in the U.S. right now.  No matter how many times Phyllis Tickle points out one token emergent person of color when she’s lecturing about this nonsensical rummage sale the Church is supposedly having right now (while she’s handing out emergent bibliographies that feature about 75% white dude authors), the fact remains that the public face of this movement is white, cis, able-bodied, straight, overly-school-educated, dudes – with lovely, fertile, doting wives, who of course changed their names when they got married. (Note to those outside freaky insular U.S.ian Christian world: the New Hot Thing Hotter Than The New Harry Potter Movies in U.S.ian Christianity is white men sitting at coffeeshops blogging – preferably in diverse neighborhoods, so they can blog about how they are in a diverse neighborhood, and you know, they’re, like, not scared.  They’re like, down.  This kind of fawning results in major book deals for white men with dreadlocks.  It equals money.  And it equals speaking gigs and national publication.  It equals giving them extraordinary amounts of power predicated on their privilege to write books precisely about how they don’t believe in power. Because the only real power is state power because that’s the only power that can affect them directly.  Racial, economic, gender, social, cis, and ethnic privilege – power they benefit from and crush other people with – is not real power.  Because they’ve read Foucault, so they’re immune from being oppressors.)  So these dudes are everywhere and some of them have dreadlocks, and there’s this problem wherein sometimes people of color are actually at these conferences.  And I’m thinking now of a friend of mine, whose name I won’t mention because mentioning it would get her in trouble and fuck up references that she needs, who goes to these conferences and she has a bigger heart than I do, she goes open-hearted and desiring deeply to witness to Christ at work there, this is a friend who has literally channeled Christ though her body for me when I needed it, and for whom I have done the same, goes to these conferences to find…what, exactly?  White dudes with dreads, and their presence makes it abundantly clear that the really basic language about how to make someone feel welcome, how to let marginalized people know that their struggles are worthwhile, is utterly missing.  Because the only appropriate thing to say would have been “O my fucking sweet Mary mother of God WHAT are you doing with your HAIR?  Do you have NO idea what that hair means?  Do you have ZERO understanding that dreadlocks occupy a specific, intentional place in the history of black struggle in the United States and around the world?  Do you not understand on a very basic level what it means to be a black woman and to try to have natural hair and not get hired for good jobs and to be asked to have their hair fucking touched all the time by ‘well-intentioned’ white people?  Do you not understand that locs are an intensely political statement and that black people – especially black women – are constantly policed about their hair?  Do you not have basic cultural competency?  Are you ENTIRELY unversed in ways that it is a fucking day-to-day struggle to even exist and advocate for oneself in the hegemonic power structure of contemporary America and trying to negotiate the politics of their fucking hair on top of that exhausts them daily?  Do you even care?  Or do you just care about pretending to piss off a few well-heeled white people, thus proving you are the least educated revolutionary EVER?  What are you going to do next?  Wear a hijab?  DO YOU FEEL ENTITLED TO THAT, TOO, BECAUSE YOU APPARENTLY FEEL ENTITLED TO FUCKING EVERYTHING ELSE?”

But my friend, she can’t say that.  Because saying that would cost her prestige and power in a system already intent on denying her voice.  And she needs power to survive, in really basic ways, in really basic “I need a job and money” ways.

This is some shit.

So I try to not go to these conferences, right, for obvious reasons, but one time I do, and one time I ask a question about why, when we are finally at a point in the church when women, queer folks, trans folks, people of color, disabled folks, are finally finally able to start claiming some space and power within the church, the church falls head over heels in sweaty mad love with a new movement whose major voices are young white cis straight married temporarily-able-bodied dudes.  In this comment, I specifically call out white dudes with dreads, wondering why the emergent thing is all about like, truth, and stuff, but unable to hold anyone accountable for their most basic public actions.  And having dreads as a white person in the public eye IS A POLITICAL STATEMENT.  And that political statement is “I don’t give a shit who I make feel unwelcome in this space, because obviously my personal expression is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING THAT EVER HAPPENED.  I especially don’t give a shit if the person I make feel unwelcome is a black woman.  And I will intentionally seek out black women who are not bothered by white people having dreads in order to make myself feel better.  Because anything that resembles accountability I will automatically count as THREAT and EVERYONE KNOWS  WHITE MEN MUST NOT BE THREATENED OBVIOUSLY WE ARE A DYING BREED PLEASE SWEET JESUS WHY DOESN’T ANYONE CARE ABOUT MY FEEEEEEEELINGS.”

And that comment, um, doesn’t go super well.  As you might imagine.  So I’m writing this, offering this one howl into the universe, and offering a few things that might help if dilemmas about what’s appropriate in “revolutionary” communities comes up.

Basic rules for being a decent person:
1.  If people who are marginalized or oppressed say, “Do not call us this name”, do not call them that name.
2.  If people who are marginalized or oppressed say, “Do not steal our traditions for your amusement,” do not steal their traditions for your amusement.
3.  If people who are marginalized or oppressed say, “Do not make yourself look cool by dressing up as us for Halloween,”  do not dress up as them for Halloween.
4.  If people who are marginalized or oppressed say, “Do not pretend you are ‘down’ with us by stealing parts of our history,” do not pretend you are down by stealing parts of their identities.
5.  Learn how to do the most basic power analysis.

Maybe, with this, we could maybe just maybe make a space where everyone is, in fact, welcome.  Maybe, then, just maybe, we could start to build a tiny piece of the world where colonization is not the default experience.

[NOTE: When I wrote this piece, I was unaware that there is a story about the word “dreadlocks,” saying that the term is derogatory, deriving from people assessing Rastas as looking “dreadful” or having “dreadful locks.”  (Other etymologies trace the term back to East African warrior locs, which inspired dread in enemies, and some Rastafarians use “dread” like “fear”, as in “fear of the Lord.”  If anyone has further information or feedback about this, please write to me in the comments!)  Another Special Communioner is uncomfortable with the term “dreadlock” because of these negative connotations, and refers to her own hair solely as “locs,” emphasizing the undeniable super hotness of her hair.  When I asked her if I should go back and alter the piece, exchanging each instance of the word “dreadlocks” with “locs” she said, no, it’s probably accurate to keep the “dreadful” in there when we’re talking about the crime of white people locs!  I apologize if this post rang untrue because of my ignorance of this one history of the term – that is a result of my privilege, and my ignorance, and does not reflect on the brilliance of the other SCers.]

46 responses to “White people with dreadlocks = No.

  1. lovejustice88

    “Calling someone out on something racist that they do is. Not. Oppression.” Amen! -I have been thinking about maturity and irony. As Christians one of our responses to the Gospel should be responsibility but in our post-everything church we don’t teach that because it may oppress someone (not really). The irony of the situation is a neo-Calvinist minister who is being run over the coals by emergent/progressive Christians for calling out an emergent pastor’s new book actually preached one of the BEST sermons on interracial dating and Race & the Cross. He confessed his own sins of racism (without excuses, derailing or guilt-he was convicted by the Holy Spirit but not condemned by White Guilt) and he called others to repent and spoke about being ok with being called out and being uncomfortable and challenged others to get uncomfortable. I think this minister is on a good path to dealing with other prejudices he has and while cool Christian bloggers, speakers and authors judge him with one finger two fingers of color are pointed back at them because though they are more “progressive” than him I honestly have not heard any of these well known critics address race in such a spiritually mature way. We need repentance- as a person of color why should I have to take responsibility for the sin of racism? It seems like a double whammy. Why can’t the American Church produce mature Christians who can take responsibility for their actions without complaining of discomfort or oppression? I really don’t understand.

    Jesus says in the gospel if your brother has something against you it’s your responsibility to fix it not the brother who was wronged. But as a woman of color I am always challenged to fix the sin of racism but not to tell my truth because it may make someone feel guilty or bad. A close friend of mine always says “it’s not my job to manage your emotions”, as a Black woman it’s not my job to manage your White guilt. When I share my story or discomfort it’s actually not about drumming up White guilt but about making sure a little Black girl in the projects can lift up her head dreads and all. Testimony is apart of my faith tradition and in Revelation we are told we are saved by the blood of the lamb and the words of our testimony BUT if I can’t testify about my experience because of your White guilt then how am I saved???? This may sound harsh but I say it out of love- let’s eat some spiritual meat of responsibility (or at least some tofu) and stop drinking the milk of immaturity. Take responsibility for your actions that oppress and for your emotions and don’t put the responsibility on women, Queers and people of color. This might be uncomfortable to hear but I can’t tickle ears anymore. Repent.

    P.S. I just went natural in January 2010 and I love my hair please don’t take it away. Thank you. (If you don’t know what going natural means you definitely should not be rocking dreads).

  2. lovejustice88

    P.S. I don’t want to sound self-righteous as a Christian, straight American citizen I know the privileges I have and I am working to repent of my oppressive actions, words and deeds as well. It is tough work but that is why we are in relationship with Jesus; his yoke is easy and his burden light. Let’s build the Beloved Community not through being peace keepers but peace makers.

  3. Win, win, win. Can I add one to the list of decent-person-rules?:

    6. If you were born in a body that the dominant culture respects (based on size, ability, skin color, ethnicity, hair type, or cisgender status), please don’t attempt to make political statements with your self-presentation. Period. There are OTHER ways that your body (like all our bodies) can be a REALLY important political offering on behalf of the cause of liberation– chain it to your local ICE detention center while quoting Deuteronomy’s codes on welcoming the immigrants in your land! Insert it between an aggressive cop and the poor person they’re harassing! But please be self-aware of the reality that, if your body is at the top of the food chain in terms of cultural standards of beauty and normativity, any style statements you make with it will not knock you off the top of that heap. More substantial risk is required if you truly want to walk the walk of solidarity.

  4. Jim Bennett

    This was a very enlightening article raising issues that I had not considered. As a white male, I always felt that there was something disingenuous about white males with dreads. I do my best to be sensitive towards persons of color and realize that I still have much to learn. I did not realize the significance of dreads and its silent protest against the status quo. As a result of reading this, I will seek to be more sensitive and encourage others to do the same. One question: I am unfamiliar with the word or term “cis”. Thank you for the enlightenment and an opportunity to see the world from another perspective.

  5. @Jim: “Cis” is the word used to indicate someone who is not trans.

    There’s lots of wonderful internet writing about gender identity – one good place to start is Holly’s Trans 101 post at feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/11/28/what-trans-means-to-me/

  6. How about:

    7. If you have a privileged body, shut. UP. Seriously. Let someone else talk. Do some research on other people’s experiences. See if you can sit through a meeting without talking. See if you can make it through your life without having to write a book about every single theological thought you ever had. See if you can post something on your blog that isn’t about you and what you think about something. See if you can link to someone else’s blog that needs some views. Start reading blogs by people who are really not like you. And not just not like you like OMG they believe something a little different about the incarnation, like really different.

    Privileged folks are forever writing books about themselves and their journeys and writing blog posts and facebook posts about themselves and their journeys and every conversation that’s about a justice thing is somehow about them. Exhausting. And then when the rest of us do it, do this thing of stating our opinions and our experiences in declarative sentences, the WRATH of young furious white men rains down upon us.

  7. thanks for articulating what I instinctively felt about dreadlocks on apparently caucasian folks…including my nephew.

    I do have a genuine, concerned question from a position of relative ignorance on this topic. I am a farmer. Certain breeds of sheep (Lincoln Longwool, etc.) and sheepdogs (Hungarian komondor) have wool/fur that naturally forms into matted locks. These are often described as “dreadlocks”. Is it offensive to people who are entitled to wear dreadlocks for us to use “dreadlocks” as a descriptor for the natural animal version of the phenomenon, when describing the animals to people who are unfamiliar with their appearance? If so I will try to modify that…. I just never thought about it before.

    • misstindal25

      This is really good question. As someone who wears locs (a loc-rocker as I have heard it called), I never thought about this. To be honest, I was always more concerned with Caucasian people defending their dreadlocks, or defending other Caucasian folks dreads by proxy while simultaneously trying to convince me that locs are not culturally ascribed to Blacks. I would not attempt to speak for all loc’d people, but I don’t think it’s terribly offensive. I’ve seen those sheepdogs and the first thing I though was “ew, that’ dog has really natty dreads!!” And I wouldn’t have been offended if someone would have said the dog’s hair resembled dreads.

      Also, again my own personal view, but before I responded to you, I went ahead and looked up “dreadlock sheep”. My initial reaction was “that does resemble our hair texture”. And honestly, that’s OK. The bible described Jesus as having “hair white like wool, white as snow”. Notice how it gives two descriptions: white like wool and white as snow. In my church upbringing, that was a point of pride, in fact-having hair like wool-like Jesus.

      However, if you are trying to steer clear of offense, then by all means use the word “matted” or “flocked” to describe how the animals look. The Silver Pastori Bergamascos, like the Hungarian Komondor, I believe they are a similar breed, is a dog with hair that weaves together. It’s called “flocking”. That is how the breed is described. The word dreadlock is never used. At least not on the website I looked at. Also, I found that it is actually pretty common place to describe these dogs as “mop dogs”. So perhaps you can try description just to be on the safe side.
      Either way, I appreciate you being so intentional about your words. Words are important, but meaning and intention, I think, are more important. So I appreciate you being so cognizant of both. I hope this helps.

  8. Maybe this is your perspective from wherever you are, but here in South Africa, and generally Africa, dreadlocks, no matter what skin colour you are, are a symbol of unity, peace and respect. African rastas have much respect for white, and any other people, who have dreads. And obviously they have the same respect for people without dreads. In fact, when you got dreads, A LOT of African people love to immediately strik up a conversation about God and life, because they know that you are not the average conservative, colonialist prick.

    I’ve been to rasta gatherings, where I was the only white person amongst dank African rastas, and I can tell you they did not have a carrot up their arse about me being white with dreads. The whole experience is unforgettable really.

    All I’m saying is that, dreadlocks, no matter on who they are, are a sign that we are all One (for people who live in Africa).

    • I totally agree with you, Ivelina.
      I’m a white SouthAfrican with & have experienced that most people here treat my dreads purely as a hairstyle and a personal choice. Because of SA’s history and wide diversity I’ve found that people are very open about the dreads (even if they don’t like them) and are willing to hear why you decided to get them.

      Although I respect that there are many underlying political, this post seems somewhat exaggerated to me, at least in the South African context. Saying white people shouldn’t get dreads is just adding to the racial stigmas & inequalities.
      Maybe you shouldn’t be basing your judgements of someone on wider political contexts but their reasons & their treatment of others?

      • Perhaps you as a white people with dreads have a vested interest in maintaining the illusion that your choice is not at all culturally appropriative?

        And the classic: it’s not a problem that you do this troubling and upsetting thing – the REAL problem is that someone pointed it out! And we should never, ever judge something based on wider political contexts, because that would look suspiciously like analysis of real and major issues, and when a white person’s thoughts and feelings are at stake, we should obviously prioritize them. Because what could be more important than an individual white persons feelings? Perhaps we should simply cease and desist all sociological studies and just start asking white people how they feel about things. It would save SO much time and money!

  9. So one thing that I didn’t do in this post is state out loud that I am writing from a U.S.ian context – I should have made that clear. And the cultural context may matter hugely.

    Other Special Communion writers can chime in here, but I might just add that many, many, many, many white people with dreadlocks also in the U.S. think that the people around them are totally cool with their hair, just because the people around them don’t directly confront or engage them about their hair. I addressed why direct confrontation and engagement with white people with dreadlocks like yourself is often neither safe nor possible above.

    Also, the white person saying “I know a marginalized person who agrees with me/I know marginalized people who don’t have carrots up their arses” is a classic derail: http://www.derailingfordummies.com/#backup

  10. lovejustice88

    I would also chime in that playing African Rastas against other people of color is disrespectful. Those Rastas do not speak for ALL people of color or even ALL Rastas. I am from NYC and know many Rastaswho would feel offended by Whites wearing dreadlocks. Often, due to internalized racism many people of color are happy that Whites want to engage their culture and will not speak out against offensive acts because they feel honored just to have White people “affirm” them at all. I would suggest checking out The People’s Institute which gives informative anti-racism trainings to Whites and internalized oppression trainings to Blacks.

  11. You really need to get outside more if hairstyles are a pressing matter in your mind.

    We are increasing moving towards a society where we are each able to act on the little eccentricities that make us all unique, interesting people and as long as it doesn’t hurt any one else people should be able to do what ever the flying-fuck they desire to the bodies.

    It’s people like you who are holding us all back.

  12. Oh, yes. It’s definitely *me* that’s the problem. Racism can’t be the problem! There’s no racism! (*plugs ears and goes “lalalalalala”*)

    It should SO be OK for people to steal other people’s cultures, because the holiest and most sacred of all values is “personal expression.” Even when that “personal expression” hurts other people! Because whatever a white person wants to do is sacred.

  13. First off the bat I am not in any way saying that racism doesn’t exist. That is foolish. I see it every day and it makes me sadder than you can realise, but things are changing.

    You fail to see that one of the problems is with people, of any creed or culture, telling others exactly what you can an can’t do based purely on the fact that you’re not part of their subculture.

    All you’re doing is trying to maintain these foolish, archaic notions that we should be kept separate, with our own private little rules and practices that no-one else can be a part of.

    We are all a part of a global society, increasingly so with the spread of the internet, and it is growing more and more difficult for people like you to stop the flow of ideas, practices and customs from reaching from person to person. As this happens we all become stronger, closer and more understanding.

    The only thing that remains the same is change.

    Embrace it, and you will be a much happier person.

  14. Really? Huh, you should do a little more research. While the term, “dreadlock”, hasn’t been around since time immemorial, corded hair has. Dreadlocks are the *natural* state of hair, they span ALL races and cultures. More important is what’s inside a person’s heart and mind.

  15. Oh, yes, it’s much more important what’s in a white person with dreadlocks heart and mind that what’s in – you know – actually oppressed people’s hearts and minds. What was I thinking??!!

    White people with dreadlocks are keeping us separate by perpetuating the myth that all choices are equally valid and have no relationship to global, national, and personal structures of oppression and dehumanization. It’s just like when white people want to dress up in Native American regalia because it’s like hot and beautiful, man, those cultures are like so amazing, dude. It doesn’t matter that actual Native people are still experiencing genocide through poverty, addiction and rape. Their headdresses with those feathers are so cute! And white people should be allowed to wear them! Obviously that’s the real justice issue here. White people are being oppressed by being told they can’t wear something! OMG! Start a campaign!!!

    Dreadlocks have a particular political history that deserves respect. White people do not actually get to do whatever we want, whenever we feel like it.

  16. Actually, I was referring to ALL people’s hearts and minds, not just white, which is something you seem particularly obsessed with.
    “…because it’s like hot and beautiful, man, those cultures are like so amazing, dude.” Seems, perhaps, that that’s *your* take on what goes through people’s minds when, in fact, it probably isn’t for the majority of *white people with dreads*.

    Again I say, dreadlocks are as old as humankind. The primitive peoples of Europe, Asia, Africa, etc., all had dreads at some point.

    And guess what? NONE of us, no matter our color, get to do whatever we want whenever we feel like it.

  17. I know! There’s no reason to be concerned (“obsessed”) with white people’s actions in particular. I mean, it’s not like white people have promulgated a myth of their own superiority for hundreds of years, murdering people in order to maintain such a myth and its attendant political, social and economic benefits. But hey! What’s a little slavery and apartheid between friends? What’s important *now* is that the right of white people to steal politically significant hairstyles without ever, ever being criticized about it.

  18. sharayaetindal

    OK, maybe it wasn’t made clear enough earlier on in the thread, but the fact is IN THE U.S. dreadlocks have an automatic correlation with Rastas and or African/Caribbean Americans. So, no, evoking Sampson or cultures from Before the Common Era and close to it is a borderline insult to the intelligence of the thousands of blacks, American and otherwise that derive quite a bit of pride from the socio-political ascription that locks/dreads have.

    Here’s the bottom line here: As U.S.ians, we (Special Communion contributors) do have a certain contextual lens through which we see racism, cultural appropriation and gross insensitivity. And, I am going to go ahead and speak for my sistren, when I say, that we are very well aware of the egregious injustices that exist throughout the globe and around the corner (see Occupy…almost every major US city), but what may be overlooked here is this: when the chips are down a set place at the table for the marginalized and oppressed of our society is won and lost by issues as “trivial” as hair and personal choice. The issues that effect minority groups cannot be entrusted in the hands of people who cannot acknowledge when their personal choices are a slight to those groups! In other words, these bullshit issues speak to and set the stage for larger issues (once again….see Occupy almost every major US city and this article about how Occupiers hadn’t really considered raising the issues of one of the most marginalized groups before taking on their mission-the homeless.

    At the end of the day, as a black women who wears locs as socio-political affront to Euro-American cultural ideals/idolatry, and knows some, if not most, of the history of dreadlocks and the current cultural ascription thereof, it’s offensive to me when whites wear dreadlocks. It. Just. Is.
    And what’s more offensive is the belabored argument that people engage in trying to convince those of us who are offended that our feelings or perceptions are invalid. And there-right there is the breakdown of any cultural cohesion or understanding. If the engagement in an activity by people of dominant culture(s) is offensive to the people group to which the activity is associated, then dammit, it’s offensive. And NO ONE FROM ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD gets to argue with them with any shred of credibility…..PERIOD!!!!!!!!!

    I have an associate that is so incredibly proud of her Dutch heritage that you cannot be in the same room with her for more than 5 minutes and not know she’s Dutch. Whenever she starts boasting about the wonders of her heritage all I can think is “yes, you’re people are so great. They are the reason my people were enslaved. You really should be proud!!?” Her hubris makes me recoil and often burns me almost to the point of tears. But guess what?! Her feelings about her heritage are not misplaced and neither are mine and NO ONE gets to challenge either one of us!!!

    The moral of this diatribe is this: the narrative of the original post is cultural appropriation from majority culture(s) is bad….very bad. But the meta-narrative is the piece that keeps getting lost. Folks in the dominant culture(s) (wherever/whatever that culture might be are still, in the 21st century, closed to the reality that regardless of what their inner circle might agree with, the larger minority culture(s) are often offended by their behavior. And when that happens, as a human being with greater access to resources and POWER, those in the dominant culture(s) should use some of their humanity to not only acknowledge the pain they inflict on minority groups, but honor it by ceasing all arguments justifying their own behavior.

    And to once again raise this point, because it clearly bears repeating: people of color often capitulate to the dominant culture whether through affirmation or silence because of either internalized racism or simply out of an ingrained understanding that dominant culture is not now nor has it ever been open to the idea that any of their actions not done in malice can still be harmful.

    White is not always right….still hasn’t sunk in here….clearly.

  19. Are you familiar with the expression “pissing into the wind”?

    ‘Cos that seems to be exactly what you’re doing, you’re expelling your rage onto a group of people who, in all reality are most likely to be on side with (some) of your beliefs.

    We’re part of a ‘counter-culture’ for many reasons.

    The thing with understanding history, is to lean and change the present.

    I’m sorry that some people the same skin tone as me have fucked over some of the people the same tone as you, but can’t we be friends whether I have locks or not?

    I understand how & why dreadlocks are such an important symbol to some people of colour, but do you understand that they are important to me also and for not too different reasons? I’ve been growing them for a little over 7 years and they are more a part of me with every passing day.

    I hope that one day you find the love to accept and get yourself out of this kind of idea that all white people are laughing behind your back.

  20. O.M.G.

    Skizz, did you seriously just attempt a “why can’t we all be friends?” argument? A little slavery and apartheid between friends…why can’t that be forgiven? And then a little argument about “what about my white person feelings EXCUSE ME A WHITE PERSON IS HAVING FEELINGS OVER HERE”. Do you really not see how problematic that is?

    That last sentence is racist. To imply that it is someone’s fault for “not loving themselves enough” when there is a multi-billion dollar industry designed to make people who are not white feel ugly, when there is a long history of racist propaganda against people who are oppressed, when that propaganda is enforced with violence, is racist. To outright refuse to understand these large forces or acknowledge them is a racist decision.

  21. The mental gymnastics you perform are quite impressive.

    Good luck to you.

  22. The acrobatics you do to justify harboring racist sentiments are Olympic-grade.

    I wish you good luck, but more than that, I REALLY wish people who come into contact with you good luck.

  23. Dear Locustsandhoney

    Please unplug your computer and bring it back to the store. It’s hurting Chinese people’s feelings cause, you know, they built it, and you’ve proven yourself too stupid even for the internet.

    And did you REALLY just post rules on how to be a decent person? You forgot #6 – Mind your own business and quit tellin’ people what they should or shouldn’t be doing.

    Try focusing on things you like in life, I hear that does wonders in terms of making you a decent person.

  24. I can verify that Skizz isnt a racist because I interact with him somewhat regularly, so go ahead and let the “whites bandin together to oppress me” shit fly..

    I’m going to say what I’ve thought since I first read your original post..

    You are a racist.. Maybe you think you are not since some people don’t believe reverse racism is possible.. But you have a major bone to pick with other races based on color and choices, that is racist.. So go ahead and start in on me, it will be a waste of your time and effort, I won’t respond since i don’t associate with hate mongers such as you..

  25. LOL trolls.

    Reverse racism, does not, in fact, exist. Racism is prejudice plus power. Therefore, only those in power can be racist. This is how it works.

    And I know, being a hate monger who believes that people of color should feel welcome in public space and shouldn’t have their stuff stolen is really hard on me. Perhaps there is some kind of white supremacist rehab where I could learn to really respect white people again!

    (P.S. You do realize I’m white, right?)

  26. I’m far from a troll.. Maybe you should figure out what a troll is before you ignorantly spew things you have just heard on the Internet..

    I know of plenty of racist that hate their own.. No biggie, they are just as big of idiots as other racists..

    For being white, by your own logic, you are just another white putting their input in on issues of the black people, so you are doing what you are claiming to be against. How funny..

    That’s all you are, another white person interjecting YOUR ideology on another groups of people..

    Pot meet kettle, kettle, pot..

    (I wasn’t going to respond, but I had it selected to recieve emails on accident)

    Good day to you and I really hope you get some help or something.. Your dangerous thinking is what causes harm to others in this world..

  27. all I can say is, I’m white, I’ve never had a problem with any humanbeing that was based on their color, culture etc, and I know for a fact that most people are like me. We take time getting to know someone, because it doesn’t matter what color you are as long as you are a decent person. The times have changed, and I see kids and young people these days love how the world is becoming a better place, and many people all over the world make an effort everyday to make life better for some. We will always have the minority of people who’s clinging to old customs, racism included, but all we “normal” people can do is be good hearted and try not to be judgemental. In 2011 it looks like skincolor for most isn’t an issue anymore, not for black people, yellow, brown white you get the picture, atleast not in Europe where I live. But I have to say, I feel that many of the things you have said here are racist. Mocking white people and telling them what they can and cannot do. If you came up to my face and told me all this things, that I cant have my hair this way or that way, I’d proly be pretty pissed off, wouldn’t you? I’m sorry that the worlds history includes killing, slavery, colonisation and all that, but if you take a good look at the world, you see that that is not what the majority stands for, they stand for change, and making the world a better place where we can be equal. I would rather worry about the people who suffer, stop beiing so selfsentered! Ill stop here with a quote from a forum ; Maybe we should stop anyone who isn’t christian celebrating christmas and ban women from wearing trousers and woe betide anyone who isn’t in a tribe to stretch their ears and get tattoos !

    And I also feel that I have to say that I dont have dreads, but my cousins husband have them (he’s pitch black btw 😉 ) and I say that if you want your hair locked, do it! But acknowledge that FOR ALMOST ALL PEOPLE WITH DREADS they do have a history behind them, wether it’s personal or political. Everything you say clashes with the human rights, I’d say its ok to support people that feel oppressed, but I and many others whether they are yellow or white (black are allowed to have dreads according to you so i wont say them) would feel oppressed TOO if we did’nt get to chose how we look or what we get to do.

  28. and a question, why are you so pissed btw? and in short simple form like i am mad because ive never fitted in so i like thinking that i matter for someone or something like that.. thank you, i know im probably not the only one who’s curious.. ;P

  29. Marie, I’m sorry you’ve lost the capacity to be pissed about, you know, oppression, but I haven’t. And one of the ways to be an anti-racist white person is to take on battles so that POC don’t perpetually have to be taking them on.

    “In 2011 it looks like skincolor isn’t an issue for most people.” Because we are white, one of the privileges we receive is being able to pretend we live in a colorblind world. And it’s frankly not true. There are fascist, racist, nationalist movement on the rise in Europe, and they are dangerous. Some of the most racist dinner conversation I ever heard in my life was sitting around a table in Belgium with a group of people who were berating me for the Iraq war, for the ways that the U.S. was hostile to gays and lesbians, for how we did healthcare. In half a second, they had turned around and starting complaining about Muslim immigrants moving into “their country” and how awful it was. I hadn’t heard such vitriol since I lived in eastern Washington and people were complaining about Mexican immigrants. Europe *definitely* has a racism problem.

  30. Well, dear Locust. You do seem to have it all figured out. White people are getting dreads cause they are racist, inconsiderate and are trying to slap Black culture in the face. Every last one of them! You didn’t need sixteen paragraphs of rambling to get your point across.

    I do like that you have your own opinion, though, just not so much that you don’t express it as such, and rather push it forward as a bunch of facts.

    I’m sorry you dislike your own race so much. Really. It mustn’t be easy dealing with that every day and is probably quite emotionally disturbing to live with. You just seem to think you know everyone’s reasons for dreading, which is…. unsound.

    Are non-Black races who like to tan a lot also being racist since they are ‘insulting / stealing / godknowswhatelseyousaid Black culture’ by making their skin darker? That seems to be your line of reasoning, whereas just like dreads, tanning is something that happens naturally. All you need is some sun, really.

    So yeah, just like, without knowing the slightest thing about me, you seem to condemn me for being White with dreads, I condemn your post. I don’t think you’ve picked a wise battle to fight – even if only because you’re white yourself. It’s a pity to see someone who claims to value virtues such as understanding, open-ness, freedom and respect as much as yourself be so narrow-minded about this. But it’s the internet! What else can we do but give our 2c and move along, which is what I’m going to try and do now.

  31. I never said that I don’t get pissed about oppression, dunno where you got that from.
    Take on battles, ok. So now I should do what? Go around with a poster that says no to racism no to oppression? I’d rather go for my method of loving all people and advise others to do the same, be nice to each other! it works for me and it works for those around me, even the colored ones I know. 🙂
    I don’t live in Belgium, I live in Norway, and here we have alot of people also complaining about muslim immigrants, and I can tell you why.
    Here in Norway, we have a lovely system who helps those in need, and we do see that many, not everyone though, abuse the system. Immigrants get a lot of opportunitys to start a life here, like FREE school and education whether you are young or adult, money for a place to live and money to live for, but many adults choose to not go to school or get a job because they get money either way. And that is our sour tax-money, so yes I can see that they are complaining, but I would also say that it goes the other way’round. you don’t have to be an immigrant to exploit your possibilities, I can see many Norwegians doing the same thing, and I don’t like it either way, because it’s not right.

    But your mainn post is about white people with dreads so I’m not going to drag this on any longer, we don’t see the world with same eyes, and never will – thank God.. 🙂
    But I just have to ask you who have all the answers, and I hope you’ll give me a little better one on this one, because it’s pretty easy really.. It goes like this; If you wanted to post something on your blog, and someone told you NO, STOP! This is outrageous, if you post that, some people would be very offended by that!! Would you do it? 😉

  32. Linze, is anyone forcing you to comment? And you do realize tanning doesn’t carry political history the way locks do?

    Marie, you’re just proving the point. I don’t see you being upset with rich people who don’t work and don’t contribute. It is right-wing rhetoric that is coming out of you verbatim about “those people” who “don’t earn their keep” and are “abusing the system.” I thought that was the system WORKING, actually – when people are taken care of.

    • No one’s forcing me to comment. Just like no one forced you to write this post and toss it out for the world to read.

      Don’t want people to comment on your posts? Don’t want people to disagree? Stop posting, or make your little blog private so only you and people you have carefully selected and agree with you can read it.

    • By the way, I had an awesome conversation about dreads with an African American over the weekend – he was bald but really liked my dreads. I told him about you / this blog post. He laughed.

  33. Ok, that’s from your point of view and I’m sure many people would agree with you, but I don’t, and there are also many people who wouldn’t either.
    But it does not make us bad humanbeeings.
    I think you take the whole thing too far, you are getting amusement and satisfaction from ensulting everyone who does not share your way of thinking, and I personally think those people are the worst. They don’t fit in todays society and that’s probably why you formed the “special community”. And you are indeed special, I’ve never seen anything like this blog.. No matter what I say, it wouldn’t matter because I’m white, so you don’t respect my saying in this, or anyone else who is white and does not agree. And that is indeed racism, you little hypocrate you! 😉
    It was fun while it lasted, but I really don’t want to bother argue with you. I’ll continue contributing in my own way and you’ll do yours.

  34. And you do realize tanning doesn’t carry political history the way locks do?

    Just have to say before I go, there is a lot of things that carry political history, but I have to say to you black people who are offended by white people with dreads, you are in on the racism!
    We are trying to make a multicultural society, where everyone can be equal, and when you choose to hate on white people with dreads just because they have dreads, I must say that it is the most bitter and selfish thing to do. You do not OWN the rights to have dreads just because they mean a lot to you! If you want to be a part of society, you also have to accept the other ones in it, as we accept you. Here in Norway we have a traditional outfit that we call bunad, that we use on special occasions, as the time goes by I every year see more and more people who is not “tecnically” Norwegian are starting to use them.. And you know what, this outfit is something that means so much to anyone who owns it, and I bet for the generation before me it is outrageous to see that it is worn by anyone who is not norwegian blood, but todays generation includes everyone, no matter what color of skin you have, are you a norwegian citizen then you are norwegian..
    But I don’t really think you care about how it’s like other places, because that’s obviously not the case over at your location, and I’m sorry bout that, but don’t let your anger towards the people you have to deal with everyday go out on other peoples human rights. If people want their hair dread they will get their hair dread, and maybe you should think about us here in Norway next time you see his dreads, go talk to him, ask him about his dreads, instead of beeing affended that he “took them from you”! Who knows, maybe youll even find yourself a new friend. Not everyone looks down on you, and it’s not all that grey, if it was, how could so many people who’s not white live, and be happy?

  35. wow! dreads are natural for anyone, they have a history over all races and cultures, they are the most peaceful and spiritual and NATURAL hairstyle for anyone (I care not what my hair looks like, I let it do it’s own thing, I didn’t backcomb, crochet, dread perm, I did nothing but wash my hair and that’s it, so no, this is not one race’s hairstyle) It’s sad that the world is full of hate and judgment, just accept people and let them be.

  36. Being black and being Norwegian are not the same.

    Being able to have whatever hairstyle you want whenever you want it is not “a human right.”

  37. Linze, I thought you were going to stop commenting because you didn’t want this to drag on and on?

    Also, you might want to look at Derailing for Dummies. http://www.derailingfordummies.com/ It’s like a field guide to your approaches to this issue.

  38. Nah I’m still around 🙂 Think I’ll keep trolling until I hear some sense out of you. Even just an ‘agree to disagree’ .. anything to lead me to believe you’re not as blind(deaf?) as you seem to be.

    Hey you’re all over that ‘derailing for dummies link huh? I saw you quote it in a response earlier, it’s in a few other locations of this site, and now here again. You been hiding behind that for long? Isn’t pointing to a derailing site derailing in itself?

    “Being able to have whatever hairstyle you want whenever you want it is not “a human right.”

    THAT was amazing. Is religion ‘a human right’ ? What if your religion offends all the people that were massacred in that particular religion’s name? What then? (and please don’t pull out the derail excuse again, however convenient it may be. If one’s not even allowed to use examples to illustrate their point, then your whole original post is moot.

    Just read a bit about you, by the way…
    “locustsandhoney is a white, queer, rural-identified, able-bodied+mentally ill Episcopal priest lady with serious fixations on Camper shoes and good cheap red wine. She grew up in rural eastern Washington as a white minority in a white supremacist culture, with more money than the kids she went to school with but less than other people in her state.

    That explains a lot. But have you traveled any? That type of place (white suprem.) is widely a minority nowadays. You’re angry, and seem to think the whole world is like this, but it isn’t. Overall, people are better than you give them credit for. You’ll always, always, always, be able to focus on the ‘one offs’ or misbehaving subcultures to prove your point (hey that’s another point for your derailing link!) but have you EVER looked outside your walls, and tried to see the bigger picture?

  39. The derailing links are so prevalent because of the tactics of people who use your arguments are so prevalent. You appear unwilling to deal with the content of the post itself, and prefer to, in your words, troll (using, for example, an ad hominem attack above). Trolls don’t contribute to the dialogue by their very nature.

    I am closing comments on this post.