For some, dreadlocks, or locks, are simply worn out of convenience, but for others, the hairdo is more than just a style; it is a statement that carries special meanings.
Lauren Hopkins 20, of Jacksonville wears her dreads out of simplicity. “I had a short cut, (but) I got tired of getting my hair done,” Hopkins said. The sophomore nursing student saw the manageability in the style, and that convinced her to lock her hair.
Hopkins said she realized locks were low-maintenance and decided to keep them.
She has been wearing the style for the past 14 years and still enjoys it.
According to Tameka Hobbs, a former University history professor, wearing dreadlocks derived from the Rasta tradition and literal interpretations of bible readings.
One such passage from Numbers 6:5 states: “All the days of the vow of his separation there shall be no razor come upon his head until the days be fulfilled in which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy and shall the locks of the hair of his head grow.”
Mpatanishi Pearson, 18, a mechanical engineering student from Chicago, not only said the style is convenient and easy to manage, but also refers to it as a part of who she is. “When you have dreads, it shows that you are culturally aware in your community,”
Pearson said. She said if one is going to wear locks, they should know the history behind them.
Joy Santoli, 18, of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands agreed. “I have no respect for people who have dreads (that) are not Rastafarian,” Santoli said.
The freshman African-American history student grew up in the islands with her father who is a Rastafarian.
Santoli said she was raised learning about the culture and meaning of locks.
Some Rastafarians do not find the gesture offensive.
Rastafarian Sheik-Jahrul Islam El of the Virgin Islands said wearing locks is a “natural divine way of life and a separation of one divinity to God.” Islam El agrees that many people wear the style for fashion with a lack of knowledge, but said he still is not offended.
We are glad to see our American brothers and sisters wearing dreadlocks, but we don’t like to see people wear them and not understand where it came from,” Islam El said.
Islam El has been growing his locks for more than 10 years.
For Jambony Jarju a teacher at the West African dance in Tallahassee, it was during her undergraduate years when she decided to embrace her natural beauty.
This is her second time around wearing locks.
When she first started she said she was not ready for the change, which caused her to take out her locks and wait until she was truly ready to make that decision.
But she said once she made the commitment, it was one of the best decisions she had ever made in her life. “For me it’s an expression of culture, embracing what I’ve been given.”
Unlike Jarju, Myah McDade did not personally choose to lock her hair. “My mom said ‘her daughter would never wear a perm,'” said the 22-year-old psychology student.
The senior from Orlando has had locked hair since she was 3 years old.
McDade said she has never had weave or permed her hair. “I wouldn’t know what to do with it,” McDade said.
She said she believes her mother probably locked her because of the internalized hate that permed-processed hair could represent.
But as McDade entered her major, she said she started to understand the viewpoint of her mother to wear natural hair.
McDade said if she has a daughter, she will have natural hair, “as long as I take care of her hair.”
She said she maintains her locks because when she looks at them she thinks, “they are beautiful.”