So, I have dreadlocks (also known as dreads and locs...I will use these terms interchangeably, throughout). This isn’t fascinating or an interesting characteristic about me because a lot of people have dreadlocks. However, when speaking about Black people’s hair, and the acceptability of said hair, it does become quite interesting.
This is the second time I’ve had dreads, and each time, the question has been raised as to why I would want dreadlocks. According to a good many people, dreads are unkempt, unprofessional, and ghetto. Even though locs are a part of almost every culture in some form or fashion, wearing them instantly “others” the wearer. For Black people, wearing dreads and other natural hairstyles appears to mark us as unabashedly Black. So, in celebration of being Blackity Black Black, here are some of my favorite library books about dreadlocks!
Nice dreads: hair care basics and inspiration for colored girls who've considered locking their hair by Lonnice Brittenum Bonner
This book chronicles Ms. Bonner’s loc journey. She tells how her journey started, the mishaps, the failures, and successes of starting and maintaining dreadlocks. Basically, it’s a YouTube video in print form, which is nice because it’s something tangible that the reader can refer back to. I wish there were more books about Black hair, the history, the styles, and legacy.
Twisted: my dreadlock chronicles by Bert Ashe
This book explores Black men’s hair. Mr. Ashe examines his life and what led him to making the decision to grow locs. He uses humor to explore the intricacies of Black hair and the history that Black people’s hair brings with it, especially for Black men. Something I reflected upon when reading this book is how much I became unrecognizable to my neighbors and some colleagues the more my dreads grew. I didn’t think I was making much of a statement with my changing hairstyles, but to some of the people around me, my hair is violently aggressive.
Dreads by Francesco Mastalia
This book features an introduction by Alice Walker. She gives a brief history of dreadlocks across cultures. Within the book proper, people from multiple backgrounds are photographed sporting locs. Accompanying the portraits are words from the subjects describing their reasons for getting dreads, keeping them, and what the dreadlocks mean to them.
In many cultures, dreads are a rite of passage and/or have a spiritual component. Dreads have also been worn as rebellion (and an f- you) to Eurocentric standards. And still, for others, dreadlocks are simply a fashionable hairstyle. All of these perspectives are present in all the books listed above.