When I walk into a room, I get stares. Not because of my friendly smile, my confident stride, or even the crazy outfit I may be wearing. At the age of 14, I get attention from both children & adults because of my hair. My long, sun-streaked locs, sprouting from my head like a waterfall. They attract attention everywhere I go, either leaving a trail of compliments from people who appreciate their beauty, or insensitive comments from those who don’t understand. The ones who appreciate my hair are usually African American adults. They compliment my locs and constantly ask me questions about how long I’ve had my locs and who does my hair. Then there’s the other side of the spectrum; the side full of uninformed and insensitive people. These people find my hair to be strange and dirty instead of exotic and beautiful. They’re usually parents of my Caucasian friends who don’t understand the culture or the style of locs. I try not to take it personal though because I know that it’s only their lack of understanding that makes them judgmental.
Speaking of judgment, adults aren’t the only ones who are cruel. I am also misunderstood, teased or criticized by my peers, for my hair. A common misconception people have about me is that my “afro centric “ look means that I have mostly Black friends at school and in my neighborhood. The exact opposite is true though. In fact, most of my good friends are from other ethnicities, because the Black kids are the ones usually teasing me. My friends from other ethnic groups tend to be a bit more respectful when it comes to my hair and will ask any questions they may have in a polite manner. However, the Black kids at my school tease me about my locs and call me names like “Bob Marley” and “Cheeto head.” They also tell me to cut my locks and get a perm, weave, or extensions to look “normal” and fit in with everyone else. It’s tragic that the world has brainwashed these children to disrespect their own culture, and not appreciate the beauty of their own natural hair.
It hurts when people tell me to “get rid of my hair”, meaning that I should perm it or get a weave. Well that’s not going to happen because I love my hair and it’s a huge part of me. Not only does my hair extend down my back, but it extends back many years into my heritage as an African-American lady. During slavery, the name of the style “dread locks” originated from slave masters using the term “dreadful locks.” There’s nothing “dreadful’ about it to me, so I wear my hair locked proudly.
By: Briana Powell
Briana Powell is a student in the Born For Greatness Youth Writers class: www.BFG-youth.com