African Dread and Nubian Locks
Malcolm X wrote of his “conk”: “This was my first really big step toward self degradation: when I endured all of that pain, literally burning my flesh to have it look like a white man’s hair. I had joined that multitude of Negro men and women in America who are brainwashed into believing that black people are ‘inferior’ –and white people ‘superior’ –that they will even violate and mutilate their God created bodies to try to look ‘pretty by white standards” (X 356). Many black men and the majority of black women have diverted themselves from the wearing of unprocessed (natural) hairstyles from the fear of losing approval from whites and fellow blacks as well.
Today there are different styles of locks around the world worn by both blacks and whites. Next to the Afro, Dreadlocks are the second most common natural hairstyle of blacks in America. History shows that a form of locks dated back to the time of the Old Testament. The books of Leviticus (21:5) and Numbers (6:5) both talk about not making baldness on or touching a razor to one’s head. Thus the name African locks comes into place in today’s society.
Popularizing the style known as dreadlocks are a group of people known as Rastas. These societies of people are the founders of an Afro-Caribbean politically orientated religion known as Rastafarianism. Rastafarianism is more of a way of life than a religion, although several religious beliefs of Christianity are strongly followed. Rastas outlawed the cutting or combing of their hair citing the aforementioned scriptures from the Bible. The style was copied from photographs of Masai warriors from East Africa and is a defiant assertion of their Africaness. The name dreadlocks was adopted to mock nonbelievers’ aversion to the look. The term was popularized by the 1975 Bob Marley song “Natty Dread” (“natty” meaning knotty). Not all Rasta have dreadlocks. Some are known as clean-faced Rastas.
In the 1980’s, a significant number of non-Rastafarian blacks began wearing dreads as a fashion statement. In the early 90’s, trend conscious whites soon followed suit. All those that were unable to grow the right kind of hair could easily pay stylist to graft premade locks of real or synthetic hair into their heads. This is becoming a more and more popular request from American black women that have been consumers of braids for the last ten years due to the ease of getting up in the morning to start their day without having to style their hair.
For those that chose to have premade locks grafted into or to naturally grow their hair into locks, society sometimes looks upon them as interesting and adventurous. More often they are looked upon as rebellious or Afro-centric. Which in turn is the exact opposite of most black Americans. I have read...