Dread or Rasta?

Through the years, I have worn my hair in several styles. Though I was raised in a spiritual home where self-expression was permitted, I have been limited by acceptable trends, workplace tolerance, and societal standards. At this junction, however, I am locked… and I am not going back.

My locks are not a fashion statement, but a statement of life. There’s nothing dreadful about my hair, but I do permit the term “dread” to describe my crown. Living in the Mississippi Delta, I encounter odd stares and subtle comments from all segments of the community daily. However, I am at peace. Yet, I find it quite odd that these same people didn’t raise an eye brow when my hair was “tame”. And not just here in Mississippi, Man in general finds difficultly in processing those things that are foreign or different from their established norm. In my journey, there are those who fully accept my person (that being my physical, intellectual, and spiritual self). There are those who have questions. And questioning is good, because it is an attempt to understand. In fact, there may be questions I have. Most of my Q/A sessions have yielded a positive exchange and both parties have walked away with greater knowledge of and respect for the other. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who don’t want any part of the discussion which is attributed to ignorance and fear. The instinctual fight-or-flight response overcomes the person, and either they attempt to force change or never have any future dealings with me. Sadly, I’ve seen this more so with family.

Again, my locks are not a trend or fashion statement. I have accepted this journey and carry a social stigma due to the ongoing misrepresentation of the “dread” appearance by a young-minded generation who simply thinks “dreadlocks look cool” and do not understand its origin. Couple the “hair trend” with an older generation that refuses to acknowledge cultural or religious differences. Granted, we are a diverse nation, but are we an accepting culture? Okay, we are a tolerant people.

Let me provide a brief history on the Rastafari movement:

The Rastafari movement is a religious movement that arose in Jamaica roughly during the 1930s. Rastafari worship Haile Selassie I, who reigned as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974. Rastas recognize him as God incarnate or Jah and as the Messiah who will deliver believers to the Promised Land or Zion which is identified as Ethiopia.

Rastas hold to many Jewish and Christian beliefs, including the existence of a single triune God, called Jah. Further, Rastas believe that Jah has been incarnated on earth several times, including in the form of Jesus. Rastas accept much of the Bible, although they believe that its message has been corrupted over time by Babylon, which is commonly identified as Western culture. Rastas also eat no pork or shellfish and some are vegans or vegetarians. The overconsumption of alcohol to drunkenness is seen as a weakness. The movement allows any person who agrees with its theories to join. The ultimate goal being: “One People, Different Colours, One Love, and One God”.

“So, where do the dreadlocks come in?” Many who follow the Rastafari movement, its philosophy, and culture choose to let their hair grow out naturally. They shun scissors, razors, and combs/brush in order to let their hair lock up. To the Rasta, growing locks takes patience, and is representative of their faith, lifestyle, and spiritual journey.

“What about Marijuana use?” We are all familiar with Bob Marley and the ganja use surrounding his ragga music and Rastafari lifestyle. in short, Rastas smoke ganja in order to bring enlightenment, to feel at peace, and to be one with Jah Rastafari. Ganja enhances meditation and the spiritual journey. It is not to be abused.

“Well, what are you?” By wearing my hair locked, I am showing affinity for the Rastafari movement. However, I haven’t subscribed to any one particular religious faith. I am a spiritual being and like most, I seek heaven and yearn for enlightenment and peace. Just so happened, in my spiritual journey; I let my hair grow long.

More about the Rastafari movement… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rastafari_movement

About Mario Strong

Celebrating blues culture and promoting roots music worldwide. Fully engaged in an ongoing personal campaign towards raising social awareness and promoting a healthy consciousness throughout the Mississippi Delta. View all posts by Mario Strong

3 responses to “Dread or Rasta?

  • M. Strong

    Great post! Thank you for creating a better understanding of why our hair grows long with no restrictions. It saddens me to see “pop culture” abuse a beautiful practice because the “hottest” rapper wears them. This statement leads into the question, are todays role models really beneficial to our young ones enlightenment, encouragement, and motivation? There are prestigious doctors and other paraprofessionals that have locks and are contributing to a better future of our young ones in a positive manner. However, many of them are shunned upon or look down at because of their decision to lock their hair. It is unfortunate that society judges one based upon a “hair style.”


  • Schoppe

    I as well as my guys happened to be checking the good advice from your web page then at once got a horrible suspicion I had not expressed respect to you the site owner for those tips. Thank you for being accommodating and then for figuring out some incredibly good subject matter millions of individuals are really wanting to know about. Our sincere regret for not expressing appreciation to you sooner.


  • John

    Hi my name is John. I found this post by accident cause I was searching for dreadlock keyword but I’m glad I found this post. It was good reading and I will recommend to others. If you have any more information please share with me. Thanks.


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