Cultivating my Roots

On October 15, the Forestry Department called a private meeting with me concerning my dreads. I was told in order for them to give me an internship, I would have to cut my hair and look more suitable for white people.

I was totally shocked by this suggestion. I knew that I would run into problems in the future concerning my hair but not this soon.

The problem does not begin and end with just my situation. There have been many instances of this type of discrimination in Western society. This is supposed to be America, the “land of the free.”

But this place is anything but free.

There has to be some sort of closure put on these petty issues if we are to evolve as a more sensible and tolerable human race.

If one can make laws to protect homosexuals, then something has to be done about this outright discrimination of people with dreadlocks or any other sort of natural hairstyle.

Prejudiced people make me sick. If we can’t learn to tolerate each other then we have bigger problems than we think.

I feel like I am being crucified because Euro-centric societies, like the United States, that want everyone who is different look like the norm.

This is something I am not willing to do for anyone or anything. To do so would be to shatter everything that I stand for, which are truth, equal rights and justice for individuals.

White people have failed to recognize that as a black man I am naturally going to be different from them. We are two different races and come from two different cultures, creeds, and mindsets.

The United States of America has to find a way to deal with these miniscule issues, or else we are in danger of having a country where everyone looks exactly alike.

It sort of imitates a robotic world. I think this is what Western society wants to see, but we as civilized people have to realize that we can’t keep discriminating against innocent people like me, and many other brothers and sisters, who holds firm to what they see as truth. This is something we should all take a serious look at.

Judiyah Ohaji Berhane (Watson), 22, is a agronomy student from Pensacola. He can be reached at