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I’ve been growing my dreadlocks for over a year. I decided to lock my hair as a way to connect to my heritage and culture. But six months into my look, people started treating me different. I didn’t realize this new look would come with so much negativity.
When I go grocery shopping for my grandfather, security follows me around, which didn’t happen before. When I drive around with my friends, who also have locs, they remind me that I need to drive with more caution. We don’t want to draw too much attention because we are three black men with dreadlocks in a car. It’s like strangers automatically assume the worst.
There’s a deeply rooted cultural pride that comes with dreadlocks. Knowing that this hairstyle has been part of my people for centuries helps me feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself.
For me, my hair holds my past, pain, joy, and everything in between. The longer my hair grows, the more it carries. I hope one day people can see past their prejudice and learn to accept dreadlocks as a cultural statement.