On a white guy with dreadlocks

A friend of mine and I are having a discussion about his decision to get dreadlocks (he is white, yes). I told them despite the fact of them looking severely unflattering on his shorter hair, it’s cultural appropriation. We got deeper into it and at one point he said it was problematic to him that he can’t get a hairstyle because he’ll seem racist. So two questions: one, why does this bother me so much, and two, why does it make me not want to be around him anymore?

1. This bothers you because you weren’t able to convince your friend that he was wrong, which is doubly disappointing because it makes you feel like an ineffectual advocate while also making you feel like shit that your friend is such a punk. These feelings were further amplified when he came back at you with terms like “problematic” without the slightest understanding of either their meaning or the ironic implications of his own willful ignorance.

2. The dreadlocks aren’t the reason you don’t want to be around him anymore. You don’t want to be around him because he’s a selfish, disrespectful little douchebag, and this argument is merely the thing that made you realize it. Maybe he’ll grow out of it one day. Maybe he won’t. Either way, it’s not your job to hang out and try to fix him in the meantime.


14 thoughts on “On a white guy with dreadlocks

  1. m says:

    I don’t understand the stigma attached to dreads. Is this an American thing? There’s a lot of people in the UK who have them that are European, Asian etc but nobody cares. Can someone please elaborate?

        • wedge sandals says:

          Aside from the blatant racism of cultural appropriation (you aren’t aowed to wear ratty ass dreadlocks every day as a white person when black people get called dirty n*ggers and fired from their jobs for having them), white peoples hair doesn’t grow the way the people who culturally wear dreadlocks’ does. Theirs dreads naturally when coaxed, white people have to literally not shower or detangle their hair for months on end to encourage their hair to grow in any way that resembles a dreadlock. Ever noticed how white people with dreads smell and black people don’t? It’s because their hair is growing mold. Google image search the inside of a white dreadlock. It is horrifying.

  2. esme says:

    Here in the Humboldt nation it seems like more of a hippie thing than a black thing. There’s always been a ton of non black folks in homemade clothes and hemp jewelry and dreads. Not that it’s relevant.

    • Chi says:

      I dunno where Humboldt is but I live in NYC. All the white people I’ve seen with dreadlocks (men and women) live in hipster/hippie central. You see them,you roll your eyes and you keep walking before they engage you in conversation or hand you pamphlets about slam poetry or whatever protest is going on in their neighbourhood.

      As a black person, I’m not seeing the issue. I like saris and Indian movies (all Indian movies). Does wearing saris and the lehenga mean I’m appropriating Indian culture? I’m genuinely asking,please.

      • Coquette says:

        Saris and lehengas are forms of traditional Indian dress, so wearing them if you’re not Indian would definitely be cultural appropriation, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. There are many contexts in which wearing either a sari or a lehenga would be perfectly acceptable if you’re not Indian. (Participation in an Indian wedding, for instance.)

        Problems arise when hegemonic cultures (aka, white people) treat the traditional artifacts of other cultures as mere trends. It’s disrespectful. You might get away with wearing a sari, but if you see a bunch of white girls wearing bindis, that shit is definitely not cool, especially considering the fact that bindis are religious in nature, and making trends out of other people’s religious heritage is *super* disrespectful.

        The same holds true for dreadlocks. Unless a white person is a Rastafarian (and they never are) it’s not cool for them to have dreadlocks. (Sure, there are other cultures that also wear locks, but ask any white kid with dreads to name one and you’ll just get a blank stare.)

  3. Godric says:

    What would bother me is him complaining that it’s unfair that he can’t do something racist without people thinking he’s racist. The dreadlocks are just him showing it on the outside. The kindest thing you can say about dreads on white people is that it looks very tacky.

  4. Eisa says:

    I don’t get it. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right ? (.. to coin a phrase)
    Should probably add that I’m neither from US nor UK, therefore pretty unenlightened.

    • wedge sandals says:

      Not how it works. Ever seen how white peoples get offended when someone watches the Harry Potter movies and calls themselves a fan when they haven’t read the books? That’s how Indian people feel when they see you walk around coachella wearing a bindi, except their anger is actually justified. You can’t pick and choose things from cultures that you think are fashionable when you’ll never experience the stigma of actually belonging to that group. You don’t get to call yourself a harajuku girl when real Japanese girls get called chinks just for being visibly Japanese.

  5. People here sound so ridiculous, dreads have been around for ever, worn by people of all colors including white. For example Spartans, Celts, vikings. Even rastafari adapted the idea from Hindu Indians that came to the island as slaves. At one point and time a comb was a extreme luxury so lots of people wore locks. I think some people look good with them and some don’t white or black.

  6. Ether says:

    Dread are for kinky hair. The coils in melanated hair draw negative ion from the ionosphere. caucasian hair decays at an alarming rate thus generating mold. There are black mummies thousands of yr. with there full set of healthy hair.

  7. Aidan G says:

    If a white person tells you Celts or Vikings wore dreads, punch them in the face. I’m an Irishman who has studdied Celtic cultures and vikings for YEARS. Neither culture wore dreadlocked hair, they sported long hair that they BRAIDED as a protective style. People who claim Celts or Vikings wore dreads are just shitty, entitled white folks who can’t handle the valid criticism that they are appropriating black culture. Even if all systemic race issues were solved and black people weren’t discriminated against for their hair, they’d still be gross and ugly on white people. Only black people pull off dreads because their hairs locs naturally and it looks good/is CLEAN.

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