When I first started my loc journey I was oblivious to all the wonders of the dreadlock community, completely clueless. All I knew was that I wanted to grow my hair out and experience the loc journey.
I’ve heard people say things like, dreadlocks or locs are like spiritual antennas. Or things like, my locs are my strength. Honestly I thought people were just thinking way to deep about their hair. I’d never had long hair other then an afro and short braids in High School and there was nothing spiritual about that in my opinion.
I’m not sure whether my father’s military experience or my family tradition is to blame, but my hair being in it’s natural state was not allowed. Anything more then waves had to go. I brought up a few times how I wanted dreadlocks, but all attempts to defend my position were immediately destroyed. Didn’t stop my mind from wondering what I was missing out on…
Fast forward about 10 years…
Now I am on my second set of locs.
My first loc journey lasted about 3 to 4 years. I had to cut my hair because my build up was getting pretty bad and at the time all of my methods of removing build up were not working. I like to call that the experimental journey.
The current loc journey I’m on has being going for about 5 years and few months. I must say that things have been much better the second time around. Although in some of the earlier parts of my journey I did twist my hair, it was rare and I barely would use any products. I don’t twist or manipulate my hair in any way any more and I regret ever doing it in the first place.
These past few years of freeforming have been an eye opener for me. I have a much greater respect and appreciation for all of you out there that are true freeformers. For those of you that don’t know what freeform locs are here’s a basic definition: to grow one’s hair without forceful manipulation (twisting, combing, brushing, braiding, etc). It sounds easy, but I promise it takes a strong mind stand the journey.
Pressures From Society
Social pressures are constantly suggesting or trying to convince you that you will not be accepted unless you conform to a non threatening physical form, this is extremely prevalent with black people in America. Freeform locs are the threatening on many obvious and subliminal levels.
Even before I started this blog, trudreadz.com, I noticed there was a different energy that came from people with natural freeform locs as opposed those who chose to manipulate their hair. Not to say one is better then another, but to say that the frequencies are different. Now that I literally interact with the dreadlock community on a daily basis the difference is even more obvious.
If I had to use one word to describe the difference it would be, confidence.
Acceptance Or Nah…
I’ve noticed the world is more accepting or tolerant of “tamed” or “neat” looking locs. I haven’t personally talked to every dreadhead in the world but I can imagine most people with natural freeform locs experience discrimination and prejudice on a more “in your face” kind of level. It’s not always just from employers or police, but from friends and family as well.
Let’s just say climbing up the corporate ladder and having freeform locs, especially as a black man or woman, would be like ice skating uphill. America has people convinced that the state of your natural black hair is a direct reflection of your potential professional performance. Nappy does not make corporate America happy. There are always a few exceptions to the rule but I feel this is generally applicable to most situations, particularly in America.
Despite some roadblocks associated with a natural black hair journey in America, I’ve noticed that people that are years into their freeform journey have a supreme confidence and love for themselves. If you watch their YouTube videos some will even tell you that they feel a high sense of self love directly impacted from their loc journey experience. That energy is very strong, inspiring and contagious. That energy screams, “I am as I am, accept it or get out of my way!”.
I feel that black people get a much stronger sense of self empowerment from a loc journey. I say that because I would assume most melinated individuals figure out early that white people are terrified of black revenge, so if you want to maneuver through Eurocentric societies with the least amount of abuse or scrutiny it’s best appear as non-threatening as possible.
Being aware of that and still choosing to be defiant and “stand up to the man” is bold and courageous. Like I said before, the world is generally more accepting of manicured locs. This is not the same for freeform locs.
Out of the many potential reasons freeform locs are not acceptable to America, I’d like to point out what I believe are two major factors.
- Freeform locs project a complete disregard for commonly accepted European standards of beauty and complete love and acceptance of your natural self. Natural black hair even defies gravity.
- White people can simulate manicured style locs, but they will have a much more difficult time duplicating freeform locs like (Bob Marley, Ladene Clark, “Dreadtree”, Dr. Carl Hart, Paul Beaubrun, and more…). This makes the freeform loc journey exclusive to melinated peoples and oftentimes phenomenas that are unique to the black experience are deemed savage and irrelevant.
The point is, choosing to be your natural self is extremely empowering and inspiring to those around you looking to explore themselves. You learn to love yourself on a much more intimate level through the constant changes. You begin to understand that there is nothing negative, ugly, unacceptable, unprofessional, or scary about your natural black hair. It is what it is. You begin to find strength in your uniqueness. Other people see and feel this energy and want to feel that for themselves.
The Power Of Natural Black Hair
In my opinion, the term freeform locs could and should be synonymous with natural black hair. You could easily explain this process by breaking it down in 3 identifiable stages: the afro, the dread-fro, fully matured locs.
All three represent strength, love and power in black culture.
One man with an afro, natural black hair, taking a knee in a football game has sparked an international campaign promoting awareness of racial injustice and police brutality.
One man from Jamaica with freeform locs became an international symbol for revolution, unity, life and love.
Through the power of dreadlocks this 7 year old boy, Blaze, is able to use superhuman lightning speed and ankle-breaking evasive techniques to avoid being tackled by defenders…
Seriously though folks, there is power in your natural hair. As you go through your dreadlock journey you will feel the different stages, and you’ll notice that after each stage you feel a little bit stronger then before.
At this time I don’t have the scientific articulation to explain this phenomena but I know it’s real because I feel it, I know others do to.
There’s a reason many people with locs refer to themselves or other people with locs as lions, or kings/queens. These are dominant terms.
Natural black hair is unpredictable and unique. Strong and resilient. Beautiful and bold.
Once you tune into that frequency, you’ll be able to express the full spectrum of yourself. Just because others may not like it, or can not copy it, does not mean you should dull your shine to satisfy their limited vision on what you could or should be. Be you.
Conclusion: Freeform Or Not
I feel like I need to clarify something. This article is not meant to bash anyone who styles, twists or manipulates their locs. This article is meant to explore the power associated with having natural black hair. Also attempt to articulate the different levels of that same power.
Definition Of Black Hair
This is my definition of locs, dreadlocks, dreads as it pertains to melinated people and black culture:
“The manifestation of melanin magic materialized through the hair follicles of blackness to bloom beyond boundaries and limitations.”
– Jason Williams, trudreadz.com
Let’s not forget we are on the same team. Let’s not be divided, freeformers vs twisters. It’s still natural black hair. It’s still a journey. However, there’s levels to this loc life. The sooner we learn to respect and appreciate the journey of others the sooner we can do the same for ourselves. Peace and blessings.