There needs to be a bit of clarification about what constitutes “cultural sharing” vs. cultural appropriation.
…because all too often, I see people respond to accusations of appropriation by stating, “but culture was meant to be shared!” And while that’s all well and good, there is a huuuuuuge difference between sharing, and 99% of the crap that gets posted at this blog.
Ever been to a powwow? If not, I highly recommend attending one at some point in your life. Not only are they great fun, but they’re a great example of sharing culture. Typically, powwows are open to the public, as a way to introduce non-natives into the traditions and cultural aspects of different tribes. The indigenous community welcomes you at a powwow. We want you to see our rituals, watch our beautiful dancers, buy our handmade goodies, and try our magical delicious life-changing fry bread. That is cultural sharing: one group inviting another to partake in their traditions.
This shit? Has fuckall to do with cultural sharing. See, the word “sharing” implies a give and take, and I assure you that actual ndn people had nothing to do with any of this. No, what this is is non-native people seeing an aesthetic they like, taking it for themselves, and then crying about “but-but… shaaaring!” when people ask if they could, I dunno, not steal our traditions for their own personal gain? There is nothing revolutionary or artistic about Urban Outfitters using Navajo motifs for their own profits, and there’s nothing revolutionary or artistic about a skinny white girl running around in a knockoff war bonnet.
If you insist on standing up for this kind of thing, do so, but don’t you dare try to defend it as “cultural sharing.”
Before bed note:
Are we really still having the cultural appropriation/dreadlocks argument?
Dude… Stop. It’s really not cultural appropriation when literally every culture across the board on every continent, in every corner of the globe wore dreadlocks at some point.
Unless they’re trying to look the part of a certain culture that they’re not (e.g. white people trying to appropriate the Rastafarian movement) then it’s not cultural appropriation. If it’s just some white dude wearin’ dreads cause he thinks they look cool, then you can stfu.
I’ve been contemplating dreading my hair for YEARS. That doesn’t mean I’m appropriating the cultures of POC. It just means I like dreads.
(In fact, I originally wanted to do it because of me Irish/Celtic heritage, so fuck you and that noise you’re making.)
Cultural Appropriation: Dreadlocks
Are Dreadlocks really cultural appropriation?
Dreadlocks originated first with Jamaican Rastafarians and then in Indian Sages and Yogis. Specifically it was started by holy men. These men renounced all of their worldly belongings (Including combs) and as a result their hair started (and remained) to turn into dreadlocks. In the beginning, it was actually something very beautiful to show that you’d given yourself and all that you possessed to GOD.
Then, it turned into something ugly. When these holy people were seen by others, they were looked down on. Seen as less than because as they gave up all they had, that also meant they gave up their money. They were the poorest of the poor and the dreadlock became a sign of being poor, dirty and less than human.
This was an extremely spiritual symbol. It was not a fad or something people did to show their love of weed.
As time went on, the Indian culture did not see anything terribly interesting about the dreadlocks. However, Jamaicans as well as those in the Caribbean thought otherwise. They believed that the dreadlocks were part of a religious lifestyle and actually considered the hair to be holy and powerful.
Dreadlocks are believed to have made it to the USA during the time of slavery. Both Black slaves as well as Indian slaves were captured and both brought this holy symbol and belief with them.
For the ignorant that want to get dreadlocks because they are Bob Marley fans or because they “Like the Rastafarian lifestyle.” I say, FUCK YOU. Many of you believe that the “Lifestyle” you like so much is about “Relaxing and smoking weed.” Nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, if Bob Marley was any kind of representation for your wanting the locks in the first place, you know absolutely NOTHING about Bob Marley.
He was a truly spiritual man. His hair, his lyrics and the way he lived his life were representative of this. (Yes, he did some questionable things. That isn’t what this post is about though) For you to take a spiritual symbol and chalk it up to your love of weed, is not only appropriation, it is down right disgusting and cruel. There is this gross misconception that just because religion is a weapon, an afterthought or something to reference during political debate in this country that it is the same in others. IT IS NOT. Your actions are shameful and mean. You are acting disrespectfully and you have chosen to do so with no forethought or concern for who you are hurting.
This “Hair style” that you are choosing to believe is about sticking it to your parents, smoking weed, “loving” Bob Marley (even thought you clearly know nothing about him) or even about “Love and peace” is SO MUCH BIGGER THAN THAT. It is just not bigger than that TO YOU. It isn’t “That big a deal” TO YOU. That is how you know without a shadow of a doubt that you are in fact a bigoted cultural appropriator. You just don’t give a damn. Privilege and entitlement reign supreme.
I have no respect or kindness for those that chose willful ignorance. It took me less than three seconds to find this information on Google. I don’t mean, it took three-ish seconds guys. I mean, I timed myself and found page after page after page of this information. I mean, I timed myself and withing those three seconds, I found more than one page that answered every single question I had. What is your excuse? You are CHOOSING to be a racist, bigoted, cultural appropriating piece of garbage. It is not okay.
Actually, dreadlocks were also a really common hairstyle in Scandinavian cultures, and in Celtic/Druid cultures in ancient times. Both cultures spanned all across western Europe and parts of the Middle East and Asia Minor.
For the Celts and their spiritual leaders, the Druids, it was also a sign of spirituality and holiness. In fact, it was a common Celtic belief that mystical beings (fairies and the like) tied knots in your hair, and it was considered bad luck to comb them out, sometimes resulting in dreadlocks for those that were more superstitious than others.
Scandinavian warriors wore dreadlocks for intimidation purposes. While others in ancient Scandinavian cultures wore dreadlocks for many other reasons.
Every ancient culture all across the globe had people, be they spiritual or non, that wore dreadlocks.
It’s safe to say that these cultures are not the only ones that had members of their societies that wore their hair in dreadlocks. Because EVERY culture, when you go back, had them at one point or another for one reason or another. Be it spiritual or just the fact that they didn’t use combs or brushes.
All of this also came from a very quick Google search. It took me just as much time as it took you to find just as many examples of plenty of western cultures that wore dreadlocks.
If you’re looking specifically for certain information, you’re going to find the information to support your platform. I did a blanket search of “History of dreadlocks” and found many different sources all saying that pretty much every culture in history had dreads at some point. The Egyptians, Jews, Christians (Chances are that Jesus had dreadlocks, guys), Greeks and Romans, everyone.
BUT, if you want to dig even deeper, I’ve found a multiple sources saying that dreadlocks didn’t, in fact, originate in Rastafarian cultures, which actually originated in the 1930s. Are you saying no one in the whole entire world wore dreadlocks until the Rasta movement in the 30s? They originated in a place in Africa, if you wanna get technical.
No. I am not choosing to be a “racist, bigoted, cultural appropriating piece of garbage”. These things are just as much fact as what you’re saying.
I understand you’re trying to fight cultural appropriation. Because stealing from other cultures will always be wrong. Especially if you’re doing it for the wrong reasons. I understand that you’re trying to make your point. But, please… Use correct information.
I’m not commenting on this to get a rise out of you, I’m adding my commentary because this is slight misinformation. Yes, the things you said are true, but these are not the only people that have worn dreads. It’s a WORLD WIDE thing.
Uhh… This happened a few days ago…
So, I made a comment to my friend about some clothing in Torrid.
This clothing was an incredibly obvious appropriation of Native American/indiginous cultures. So, I said, “Wow, Torrid. How incredibly appropriating of you. Good job. *sarcastic slow clap*”
My friend just kind of looked at me and said something along the lines of “It’s just a shirt, dude.”
I don’t know… It just kind of bothered me.
Actually, it really bothered me. It’s like, out of ALL of the BILLIONS of things in the world that torrid could have put on a shirt, Native designs and symbolism could have been, you know… Left alone to the people that work damn hard to preserve their culture. Ponies, or rainbows, or penises, or funny catch phrases could have been put on their clothing… So why did they have to take something like that, in a very VERY generic way. So generic it was insulting, actually.
And then, when I say something, my friend just kind of scoffed.
I dunno. I just feel like it should’ve been taken a bit more seriously. Not like, I’m-going-to-start-a-movement-against-Torrid seriously… But, I feel like my friend probably could have asked “Hey, how is this bad?”
Or something. I don’t know. I don’t know!
I just hope that if said friend sees this, she knows that I’m not attacking her personally at all, because I love her more than life and this was just a bit of rambling on my part and I know I’m not a native person by any means (you have to go back like 8 generations to find any sort of Native American blood in my family) but I still feel like stealing from any culture is kinda fucked up, yenno?
Edit to add: This is the shirt I was talking about. It’s description reads:
JET John Eshaya - Santa Fe Skull Tee
Evoking southwestern art, this fawn colored tee from John Eshaya features a feather-decorated bull skull and Navajo-inspired geometric designs. A flirty boat neck, elbow sleeves and ruched side seams shape the casual-chic silhouette.