Locks: A Cultural Act Or A Trend?

Locks or locking of the hair is mainly associated with Rastafarianism the Jamaican religion, culture and some see it as a movement. Binding the hair to form matted thick collectives of hair is all a part of the Rasta doctrine which states that members should refrain from cutting, shaving or putting chemicals in their hair. Doing the above is seen as Eurocentric, as opposed to being Afro-centric which is what the movement embodies.

A condensed history of Rastafarianism goes a little something like this..NaturalPride
During the 1930’s Haile Selassie the 1st became Emperor of Ethiopia. During this time in Jamaica there was a renaissance where the majority of citizens were descendents from slaves and the predominate religion was Christianity. Searching for a black public figure to lead or aspire towards, some Jamaican’s began to associate Haile Selassie with the second reincarnation of Christ, or as the late Reggae artist Garnet Silk refers to him in a well known song Christ in his kingly character. Another phrase used to illustrate Haile Selassie is the “Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judea”, and it is precisely this term that in my opinion leads you closet to the rationale behind Rastas wearing their hair in locks. The Lion or the Lioness is seen as being unregimented, wild, untamed, dominating and authoritative in its natural habitat. It’s one of the most feared mammals in the animal kingdom, subsequently “Rasta’s” associate themselves to the embodiment of this by wearing wild and free hair but most importantly natural hair that in some regards has at times been feared by those in the Western society. As comedian Paul Mooney claimed in regards to how Europeans feel about our hair he said; “If your hair is relaxed, then white folks are relaxed, if your hair is nappy they’re not happy” – Paul Mooney.

Even now in this contemporary society, finding a salon that caters for natural or locked hair can be quite difficult. You may ask how I know this, well for the majority of my life I had locks, and I was only able to find two salons (Morris roots, Tia’s Hair Salon) which catered for my hair style. I personally do not use the term “style” loosely at all, considering in these days it is most definitely seen as a cool and trendy hair style, in comparison to the more sacred reasons Rastas hold. Celebrities such as Lil Wayne (Left), Waka Flocka Flame (Centre) and 2 Chainz (Right):

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Are all current successful American rappers who have illustrated the fact that is doesn’t have to be a religious choice, but just another way to experiment with your hair. Portraying that men just like woman wish to enjoy long flowing fabulous hair, and having locks makes this even more feasible as the hair achieves long length due to the fact that it does not shed. This is the key principle of not combing the hair out, which causes an interlocking effect.

Rasta’s believe you shouldn’t run a comb through your hair as this is envisioned as a “Babylon Ting”, which is a vernacular that refers to Western culture or the Eurocentric way. Conversely proving that you are Afro-centric by going against the grain of conforming, therefore allowing you to become more of an individual. But although this is a genuine reason for adopting “locks”, it doesn’t necessarily have to be linked back to any religious doctrine. Even though a Rasta may disagree, it is better in my opinion that the religious tie to wearing locks is lessened (not abandoned) but lessened. Due to the idea that more people may flock to this hair style if they know they don’t have to let’s say change their whole life style or belief system. Let’s face it, “locks” is about freedom and not feeling pressured to look like the majority, which in some regards is what being a unique individual is about.

By Ester Selassie

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Comments (5)

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  2. Pingback: Locks for ever? Not Really | NaturalPride

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