Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Z1's Dreadlocks

We cut his locks on Friday, August 29, 2008. We just used scissors. No razor even though his dad is a professional barber.

It was a really difficult decision but we did it. Lots of things came into play

I'm going to be very honest here.

When Z1 was born, I was in a lot of ways much more radical and much more idealistic in my thinking. I had a list of things I just absolutely wouldn't do. But the realities and practicalities of life have an uncanny way of mediating one's idealism.

Anyway, as a first time mom, I did the best I could. The best I knew how. I think I was washing Z1's hair once every two weeks or so. For the first couple of months, I combed it out (sometimes with a comb and sometimes with my fingers) which he hated and which his dad wasn't too fond of. Then I just stopped manipulating it at all. I just washed it and oiled it and the locks started to form. I wasn't as meticulous as could be about getting out lint. I should have washed it more often. I shouldn't have used heavy oils like shea butter. I shouldn't have combined some locks the way I did. But I did. And Z1's locks had so.much.buildup in them. It was actually a bit overwhelming. One morning, I washed his dreads, did an apple cider vinegar rinse on them and just kept squeezing the locks. More and more stuff kept coming out. Eventually, I got the locks really clean but there was still this white stuff. So I took a tweezer and started to pick at it. There was "stuff" all throughout the lock such that I knew that nothing would take it out. I had been contemplating cutting them for a while now but this made me really consider it. Because no matter how clean the locks were, they looked dirty.

And since they were freeformed/organic, you can imagine people's reactions at time. I'd caught some sideways glances from people when they looked at my son. Saw looks of disgust. Pity. I'd even seen people ostracize him. A little baby like him. For his hair. And so that tore at my heart strings and made me wonder if wearing such a significant crown as dreadlocks should be placed on such a small child. Especially when the dreadlocks are organic. Twisted, styled locks, I would venture to say, are much more accepted in this society than "bongo natty".

Add to that the fact that I worried that he would feel alone. There are a few RastafarI youth but living where I live, he was generally the only child with dreadlocks. And if there were children with dreads, they had styled dreads. He never really got to see kids that looked like him except for once or twice a year at "cultural" events like the street festival and such as well as Nyabinghi.

Of course, the hubby, who is remarkably nonplussed by others' thoughts about him and his family (which I absolutely love and respect), said that if others treated him differently for something so superficial as his hair, they don't deserve the honor of knowing and being loved by Z1. About feeling like an outsider because he had locks, DH pointed out that he himself had locks so if nothing else, Z1 would know he looked like dad. He had a good point. I was ready to keep the locks.

But the buildup. Geez. And I know it's my fault that his locks had so much of it because I am the one who primarily cares for the kids. I mean, I've learned so much now from Nappturality.com and from my own experience, that now I know what to do. I know his hair needs to be washed at least once weekly. Maybe twice in the summer. I know that to counteract dryness, I should use conditioner (not wash less)--diluted conditioner, that is, because full-strength conditioner is difficult to rinse out of locks completely especially on a squirmy child. I now know to use lighter oils like coconut and jojoba (which work well to hydrate the hair in conjunction with a good conditioner). I just know now.

So his hair is a short afro right now. It's not combed out or anything. I'm trying to feel out how we're going to approach this second set. If I'll be more conscious about making the locks even. On his last set, some were large, others small. Some were flat, others round. I know that they will be organic again, i.e. no twisting but I want to pay closer attention to how they are formed and to keeping them really clean and lint free with frequent washings, conditioning and light oils. I've noticed that it's very dry/lackluster right now so I'm going to start giving him cod liver oil again and really pay attention to his protein and to being consistent with his multivitamin.

Oh, I miss seeing his hair flying when he's playing. I worry what others who follow the same trodition (RastafarI tradition) will think when they see him. What they will say. I try to keep the hubby's words at the forefront of my mind though when these thoughts surface, "He's my son and I do what I feel is best for him. When someone else clothes and feeds him, I'll look for their input. Till then, whatever, man." Spoken like the philosopher he is. <3


80sBaby70sSoul said...

Just one question from someone totally ignorant of Rastafari Tradition. What is the need/emphasis on organic locs? Are twisted locs less spiritually potent in some way? Having seen and known people with both types, I am aware that it's really about each particular person. I know people with organic locs who are not spiritually connected at all. And then I know people with manicured locs who have a huge spiritual aura. Just like Dre form Outkast said in their song "Now question is every nigga with dreads for the cause? Is every nigga with golds for the fall? Naw
So don't get caught in appearance" Help a sista understand!

Anonymous said...

I feel your pain over his cutting his locks, yet like you said he is your son and you need to do what's best for him.

I am in a similiar boat with my own locs, for reasons similiar to what you described, so I really can relate. Peace.

Chi-Chi said...

I recently learned the difference between organic and freeform locks. Organic is when you don't do anything but wash. With freeform locks, you wash and separate but don't twist or otherwise manipulate. So Z1 had organic locks.

Okay, so I'll try to keep it simple Nya. Also, I don't pretend to speak for every Rasta. People's opinions are varied.

I think the emphasis on organic/freeform locks simply has to do with being as natural and interfering as little as possible with nature. There is also the aspect of dreadlocks as a form of rebellion, as a sign of having refused to accept the system and the general standards/concepts of beauty. Also, I've heard many Rasta express that organic/freefom locks look just like the roots of a tree. And I agree. Check out: http://www.neatorama.com/2007/03/21/10-most-magnificent-trees-in-the-world/ and scroll down to #3 Banyan Tree: Sri Maha Bodhi Tree. Since ones who trod RastafarI are interested in Sankofa, i.e. getting back to the roots, the hair is a physical representation of that journey and also of being firmly planted and grounded in nature, in His Majesty, in Jah. Unmoveable. It is also an identifier in many ways. If you see a brother with freshly coiffed locks, he probably is not RastafarI although he might be. Generally, Rasta are not interested so much in "fashion dreads" which many see twisted locks, sisterlocs and all that as. It's not a fad for asta so there's no interest in making them pretty and acceptable to the general society. (We can all agree that twisted, styled locks are far more acceptable in this society that bongo natty.) Anyway, since Rasta is still a "baby" in the world of philosophies and religions, Rasta people are few and far between. So, certain physical attributes help one Rasta identify another. So for example, if I am wearing a tall headwrap and a long skirt with maybe a red, gold and green button or flag, I'm easily identifiable to another Rasta much more so than if I were wearing jeans and had my hair pulled back in a ponytail.

I think it's a serious mistake to assume that just because someone has organic/freeform locks that they are more spiritual than someone else. People of all backgrounds do make all kinds of assumptions about folks with organic/freeform locks and I guess that is just human nature. My lock journey has really helped me to get over "lock fixation" and look at what people really are inside. To look at their soul and heart more so than their hair. Because I know what's in mine that so many have refused to see because I don't have hair down my back.

Anyway, I hope that helps.

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