been said that hair left to its own devices coils in
the direction of the earth's rotation like tides follow
the moon. Since the dawn of civilization, cultures worldwide
have given way to this natural order, wearing locked
tresses as a sign of spiritual devotion or political
resistance, or as a rite of passage. They are called
jatta in India, ndiagne in Senegal, palu
in Sri Lanka. But Jamaican Rastafarians--influenced
by black nationalist Marcus Garvey, the Nazarites of
the Bible, and freedom movements in Ethiopia and Kenya--popularized
dreadlocks through reggae music and its ambassador,
the natty Bob Marley.
this homage to African heritage is now a badge of world
citizenship shows how far the "happy to be nappy"
movement--phase two of Black Is Beautiful--has marched.
Dreads (Artisan Books), a new coffee-table collection
of photographs with an introduction by Alice Walker
musing lyrically on the decision to let her own mane
mat, captures locks in all their diversified glory--from
New Zealand to Ghana to Arizona.
some, locks are more fashion than politics. Tokyo trendsetters
pay yen into the thousands to have their bone-straight
hair drilled into "instalocs," imitating what
was once a statement against vanity and artificiality.
And many African Americans, freed by their hair-itage
to express their individuality, bleach their dreads
blonde. Yet the ascendancy of style doesn't mean the
end of spirit, for who knows whether you grow locks
or they grow you.