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Dread Locked

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It was a muggy summer morning, September 1, 2004, one week before I would start the first day of my high school career. All of my 8th grade year, I had been contemplating this day. As every season passed I grew more excited. This afternoon I would make a commitment of high distinction. I would grow dread locks. I was ready to make a pact that many idolized men and women of my culture have made.

On that morning I awoke early with the adrenaline rushing to my fingertips. My mom heard me wrestling with my bed spread, when she yelled “Are you ready?” I jumped out of bed and headed toward the brightly lit bathroom, as I wiped my crust-filled eyes. My mom had locks already, and she was so excited when I gave in to her constant encouragement of this decision. She smiled as great as the crescent moon when she stepped into the restroom with me, and handed me the scissors. It had been one full year since I had a relaxer. (So there was a jungle in my roots and the ends of my hair were pressed) But now it was time for me to cut my overindulgent hair.

When I looked into the mirror and then back at the scissors a single solitary tear ran down my cheek. My mom was encouraging me, “Go ahead, take the first snip.” So many thoughts were racing in my mind before I carried the clippers to my crown. What if I don’t like them after a while? What will my friends think? What will I gain from this? So finally I grabbed a fist full of my soon-to-be, all natural hair and snipped away.

After I was done with the first snip my mom took over the shears and clipped away at my afro like a mad woman. As I dazed at the mirror I saw my hair diminishing before my very eyes. I was in awe. After this she took me to the hair salon. The ride to the salon was the longest ride I have ever had taken there. It seems as if she took a different road, so that I would have time to think my self out of doing it. Which in reality I would not do, because my mom would think of so many ways to call me a coward. So I inhaled a vast amount of oxygen and braced my self for the final moment

We pulled up to the shop. When I stepped into the hair conformation laboratory, I was greeted by a woman of my complexion, with her locks in a huge ball, resembling a ball of yarn. She smiled and introduced herself as Phylicia, I recalled her northern accent from the conversation we had over the phone before I arrived. Anyway, I smiled back uncomfortably because I was nervous. I sat in her station and she began her masterpiece. Within a time frame of forty-five minutes she was finished. Seems as though she performed within a spin of the chair I was sitting in and I was transformed. I didn’t feel any different.
To my surprise I did not feel a since of emptiness, more so a feeling of liberation, and a lack of restrictions. It was a feeling so empowering that I could almost faint. I was not however, aware of how huge a step I just made. Now that I have been ‘Locked’ for 3 years I have observed more than ever about hair. When I think back on the times before this, I never ever thought that I would have this style. A style that most look at as intimidating. Many people look at someone with locks and see them as a sadistic gang-member, a pothead or drug dealer who listens to Bob Marley rebelliously. Society today pressures women of my culture to have straight hair, something that genetics have not agreed women of color. Most women are pressured to have hair like Beyonce, Ashanti or Mariah Carey. But when you refuse to conform to straight hair you then become a part of a movement that is bigger than yourself. It is a huge commitment to “dare to be different”.





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