I’ve been in the midst of some very heated debate on quite a few examples of things happening recently from the way stars dress to music to hairstyles that just really set people off about Cultural Appropriation.
One of the biggest debates was centered on Dread Locks. African Americans often believe that other people should not wear them. The consensus of the people seemed to be that the Hindu people had Dreadlocks first, because of a certain Goddess who is depicted with having ‘dreadlocks’. Another argument was that the Egyptians had them first. Everyone seemed to agree Rastafarian movement was too new in history to have started dread locks.
In fact, Dreadlocks are Rastafarian. The Rastafari religions are the root of all Dreadlocks, which they wear because of Samson, the Ancient Israelite who didn’t cut his hair and became the most powerful man alive, with inhuman strength. If Rastafarians took Dread Locks and didn’t give thought or praise to Jah, but instead ran around like African Americans, we could say that was definitely Cultural Appropriation by Africans of the Jew Samson. But really, that is a Higher belief, to which anyone who believe may belong, and thus the powerful level of respect and fidelity to the origin of the Dread Lock makes Dread Locks wholly and equally apart of the Rastafari, perhaps the only people left on earth to abide the doctrine and belief of the Nazarite covenant between Samson and his God. Thus it is wholly Rastafari, and in no way are dreadlocks African American, or even hippy.
If ya locks nah give you nah power, ya kno, dems nah be nah dreadlocks, man. Dems locks pon ur head be nah dread, so dems nah dreads, dems jus locks, ya kno?
Samson had Locks. Most ancient stories relating to hair mention locks. Even Goldilocks had locks. Its the hair of the ancient world, particularly those close to the sea, oceans, or salty & humid regions. It’s really just having nappy or matted or locked hair, and that was basically everyone in those regions until the invention of soap. Thick hair, particularly in salty climates near seas and oceans, grows into natural locks. Those aren’t Dread Locks. Those are just Locks. Dread Locks are Rastafarian, named for the Dread, Natty Dread, Jah Dread Sovereign Lord of All Creation. The British also referred to God as Dread Sovereign, and it was thus written in many Bibles. You don’t have Dread Locks without Rastafari. You just have locks, or just Nappy hair maybe, or Nappy Locks.
Different cultures or religions adorning their locks with bands and beads and ribbons and ties and cuffs and rings etc has been happening since the dawn of time, in nearly every culture around the world, particularly those near Seas & Oceans, for a variety of religious & cultural reasons. If you take the same beads, feathers, cuffs, rings, bands, and ties etc from what another culture uses that has great meaning to them, that can certainly be considered cultural appropriation, particularly if you have no connection to the culture.
Could the Egyptians have had Dreadlocks? If the reason they had those locks was to gain power from the Heavens, and favor of the Gods, then in that case Rastafari would likely consider them Dreadlocks, as the Rastafari refer to the Locks of Samson as Dread Locks, the original Dread Locks.
The term Dreadlocks originated with the Rastafari in modern times. Such hair should just be called Locks, unless the person is Rastafarian, or, at the very least, working towards a Unified Africa, a Liberated African people, equal Rights guaranteed for all Africans, believe in the love of Jah for all mankind who holds Africans as equal to all others, and other things which the greatest Rastafari have all worked towards.
Rather than drive people away from the use of the term Dreadlock, this writing is meant as a call to Africans or others to embrace Rastafarian culture and their powerful spirituality and the ways of Jah. If they have no desire to unite with the African children the world over, under the rule of the Rastafarian Mansions, they should definitely just call them Locks, and not Dread Locks.
And by this clear definition, non-African people can also call theirs dreadlocks, if they are apart of the Ital Rastafarian religion and people, working towards the same goals, and not just tryna get high or something. This fact makes many African American people feel angry, but its the same as how Africans are deeply embraced into the Muslim religion if they believe in it. Rastafarianism is a religion, and not a race, and is focused on the strength, welfare, perseverance and endurance of the African people the world over, including African Americans. Bob Marley devoted much of his life to trying to help African Americans, who unfortunately widely ignored him and the Rastafarians, due to American persecution and targeting of Marijuana by the US Government, likely.
We’re really talking about what we see in modern society, as people wearing Locks and calling them dread locks, when they have nothing to do with Rastafari, Ital, or Nazarite Covenants, nor any connection to them, nor share any of their beliefs and practices. Then we are talking about Appropriation of Dreadlocks. The very name Dread Lock is far too mighty and powerful and sacred to be thrown around by people who have no spiritual power or might or belief in Jah. It’s like someone who is Christian calling their bathrobe “Hindu robes” or something, when they actually don’t know anything about Hindi people or culture at all, and don’t really care to.
Thus, technically, anyone who believes in Jah, or the God of Samson, (yes, there are in fact older Bibles which mention the name of God as being “Jah”), who wears their Locks for the purpose of spiritual power and might, as do the Rastafarians, can call them Dreadlocks. Anyone else should avoid using the term dreadlock, out of respect and decency, or else it is really an improper cultural appropriation. Its akin to perhaps a non-muslim or ‘non-believer’ wearing a burka or something. It looks really bad for you to do something like that, something so careless. Or we could say it’s like a European getting a Samoan Tattoo, which has great meaning, and tells many stories about family etc, and just wearing it around town to look cool.
Dreadlocks are a Rastafarian Religious Vow, and sign of the ancient sacred Nazarite Covenant of Ital Rastafarians, deeply rooted in the Nyabinghi Culture. Representative of the Dreadlocks of Samson in the Bible who had Inhuman strength and power, Strength and Power Rastafrians also strive to attain through Dreadlocks & Italism. Dreadlocks in African American Culture are directly from the various Mansions of Rastafari, if they be called Dreadlocks. In fact, any African American calling them dreadlocks who is not of a Rastafarian Mansion can be said to be culturally appropriating Dread Locks, and should rather just call them locks.
Indonesians shouldn’t culturally appropriate Japanese culture, and Neither should Filipinos appropriate Korean culture, yet they are all Asian. African is a term as broad or even broader than the term Asian. You can just as easily appropriate the culture from one people and nation or tribe in Africa to another, as equally as an Indonesian and Mongolian can of each other’s. “Black” Americans, on the other hand, have the general idea that everything in Africa belongs to them, which it doesn’t. But people are warm and generous with their cultures, if you are respectful of those cultures, and are generally willing to let you use what you need to use to make yourself whole. Honestly, African Americans are really just Americans, and the ways of life and dealing with others can be very at odds with how Rastafari think, talk, act and behave. They are often polar opposites and have nothing in common. African American Appropriation of Dread Locks is their attempt to find an identity and root, but basically amounts to a form of blasphemy against the Holy Dread Sovereign and Mighty Rastafarian Mansions. It’s like someone who wears Buddhist beads but doesn’t believe in Buddha, doesn’t know or follow any of its precepts, and has no connection to the culture. Its like the difference between the Queen of England, and a hillbilly American in Florida. Its sad and disgraceful, really.
There are many Primordial Deity in the world’s cultures depicted as having locks. Hindu is a very old organized religion, but their are countless far older religions and pantheons of Deity from tribal cultures around the world. Everyone should wear locks if they want to. We should just not call them Dreadlocks unless we’re doing it in accordance with Ital Rastafarians, else there is nothing Dread about them. Locks are a hair style, from Europe to Mesopotamia to Asia to Polynesia to the Americas to Africa, each of them out-dating recorded history. If you wear certain colors or certain styles of adornment from other cultures in your locks, that’s appropriation. They are all locks, and we can name them different things if we want, but Dreadlocks specifically are Rastafarian alone. And nobody should be calling them Dread, if they be not dread, if they haven’t the Samson belief of Ital Rastafari or the Nazarite Covenant.
Perhaps we can call other Locks something else, such as danklocks, tribelocks, streetocks, afrilocks, goldilocks, sealocks, urbanlocks, peacelocks, lovelocks, earthocks, naturelocks, or just locks, locked, or something else.
Likewise, something like Buddhist beads, you shouldn’t wear with the symbol of Buddha on them, but you could make something without the Chinese or Tibetan Character of Buddha on it, and call them something else.
As for like a Chinese Qipao dress, you can simple get your own pattern of silk made, without Chinese patterns or characters on them, change the cut a bit, and call it something else. Or else you can just give credit to the Chinese, by standing by the Chinese, supporting the Chinese, learning about Chinese culture, and being more like the Chinese yourself. If that doesn’t interest you or is not in your wheelhouse, think of something else to use.
or if you are getting a Polynesian Tattoo, ask them if they know the meanings and be sure there isn’t anything not pertaining to you on your tattoo, or have them modify it for you.
If you want to call them dreadlocks, learn about Rastafarianism, believe it, follow it, and become it, or just refer to them as locks, because your locks aren’t dread.
In general, people who have the culture, perpetuate the culture, teach the culture, and are a part of the culture, very secure in their culture, are not the people who talk about cultural appropriation. Its always people from those cultures who lack the culture themselves, either from lack of being taught, lack of interest, lack of learning or study, or because they grew up far from the culture’s region of origin, or because they were taken away from their homeland, or their homeland was taken away from them,. These are often people who are very insecure about their culture, very lacking their culture, and very in need of their culture. They are often hurt by the other people where they live, and made to feel inferior etc. They then understandably get angry when they see people who have no respect for them using their culture, which is their entire identity, an identity hanging on by a thread. Thai and Vietnamese and Chinese and Koreans growing up in America, for example, simply become “Asians”. Nigerian and Ethiopian and Ghanaian and Congolese people born and raised in America for generations or adopted there, simply become “African”, or worse yet, “Black”.
If you go to China or Ghana or Argentina or Samoa, you’ll be greeted with warm, friendly people who actually get excited by you taking part in their culture. They’re happy to share, and feel genuinely excited by an outsider showing an interest in their culture. Taking part in it gives a sense of validation, that its enjoyable for other people in the world too. If you meet people who are from Indonesia or Nigeria or Brazil, who are first generation immigrants, they are generally very open with sharing and teaching as well.
People who lack the culture may often have an anger which is, at its core, a deep hurt, pain, and a broken heart. They are broken people who need help. Its also the sting of jealousy. They may lash out at people for Cultural Appropriation, and we should all bear with them and be understanding, and help them connect with their own culture. It is your responsibility to make them feel like you care, and are not just abusing or disrespecting their culture. Respect their culture, or don’t use it. Because even people in those countries have grown tired of the abuse by outsiders, and your welcome may be tentative, at best.
And for those hurt by Cultural Appropriation, the best thing to do would be to go and live in the countries of your heritage and ancestral homes, with your people, and get to know them and learn their culture, for at least a few years, if not a decade.