Hippies with Dreadlocks and why I quit Reggae

Benirras: White, Aging Hippies go Tribal

I used to be the only 13 year old kid expert in Rastafarianism and Reggae in the US. I say “used to be” because it lasted for a few years (1985-89). I still appreciate it, but even at 16 I was mature enough to know that White guys can listen to Reggae but cannot hear it. Its message is simply not for White people. As a matter of fact, the Rastafarian movement could even be considered exclusive. So, why are there so many White hippies in Europe with Dreadlocks? And what is a group of White, aging hippies on Ibiza’s Benirras beach doing playing tribal drums? What happened to bag pipes and clavicords?

Hippies with dreadlocks or any White guy with Dreadlocks is an aberration. Not only is it the typical example of when White people steal the ethnic traditions or artistic forms of non-White ethnic groups and cultures, but it is also an oxymoron. Once again, I gave up my affinity for Rastarianism around the age of 16. Why? Rastafarianism is an exclusive religion. It does have its inherent values, and I respect them. Nevertheless, Rastafarianism had no place for a 16 year White kid, nor does it now have any room for aging hippies or 21st Century wanna-be’s.

The Rasta Movement grew out of Jamaica and has its roots in Marcus Garvey’s Pan African movement of the 1930s. Garvey, a Jamaican living in Harlem (later deported from the US), called upon Black people to return to Africa and to look towards Africa for a Black messiah. Around the same period in time, Haile Selassie I (Ras Tafari) became the Emperor of Ethiopia, using the political and religious title of “Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, King of Kings, and Elect of God”. A following for the new African king emerged in Jamaica — the Rastafarians or Rastas. Rastas found in Haile Selassie the convergence of Western Religion with an African face; in other words, a God they could relate to. In the Rasta’s Doctrine, Black people were analogous to the Israelites. They had been taken as slaves from their African homeland to Babylon. Rastas defined Babylon to be the European world that had enslaved them, and Haile Selassie (as Lion of Judah) was their savior as defined in Revelations 5:5. If European and American Whites could have their White Jesus, then Rastas were entitled to their own messiah, in their own image. Rastafarianism is a form of Liberation Theolology for the West Indies.

The popularity of the Rastafarian Movement exploded in the 1970s and 80s, especially fomented by the likes of Bob Marley and other Reggae musicians. Interestingly enough, originally Bob Marley and Reggae music were not popular amongst Black Americans, but did have some following among White Americans. Black Americans were not interested in the “look-to- Africa” message. White Americans, mainly hippies, were attracted to the Rastas’ use of marijuana as a spiritual aid. But during the mid 80s when I was listening to Reggae, none of my classmates or peers had ever even heard of Bob Marley, Reggae or Rastas. As a matter of fact, the only interest any of my friends ever showed in Reggae began much later as they became interested in smoking marijuana. Meanwhile, instead of smoking pot, I listened to the music’s lyrics. Eventually, I realized that although the Rasta message was virtuous, their movement was exclusively directed to its own people. Personally, I have absolutely no problem with that. But the music did not speak to me and, in particular, was not meant to speak me, nor did it have any intention of speaking to me. Other than wanting to sell albums, the Rastas do not want White people around them. And who can blame them? White people love to listen to Bob, but they should stop and analyze his lyrics. He was complaining about them.

Nevertheless, I do still listen to Reggae from time to time for three reasons: (i) the nostalgic value of listening to music from my formative years, (ii) the musical value of the music in itself, and (iii) because sometimes I enjoy listening to people who have reached their threshold of a system that represses them and call to fight back (ie, Malcolm X or Zizou). But, while Rastafarianism is an expression of Black people from the West Indies against a European religious tradition forced down their throats, there is no excuse for White Europeans or Whites anywhere to assimilate the Rasta symbolism as their own (ie, Dreadlocks).

Well, isn’t this a bit long winded? Yes, but I still can’t understand why I see so many White hippies with Dreadlocks? Is it for the same reason that White kids in the US listen to HipHop, dress and talk like rappers? Or do hippies only see the Dreadlocks and Rastafarianism as a justification for smoking marijuana? Have they missed the message that Rastas want to be as far away from White hippies as possible?

All of these things passed through my mind as I watched a group of White, European hippies (most of them aging) playing their tribal drums, though I am not sure to which “tribe” their drum beats and mystical dancer belonged. Supposedly they were playing the drums as a spiritual ritual for the setting sun. Unfortunately, while everyone was facing the drummers, all attention was focused on the grey Dreadlocks and “bald heads” (what Rastas call the White oppressors) and the sun sank slowly and gloriously into the sea behind us all. The ritual was for the sun, but the show was for the drummers.  I guess it’s a shame they distracted us from the real attraction.

Advertisements

76 Comments

Filed under Digressions, Essays

76 responses to “Hippies with Dreadlocks and why I quit Reggae

  1. As someone who is, by your description, supposed to fit naturally into the Rastafarian religion, I’m not in agreement with you on who can wear dreadlocks. Nor do I agree with you about who can listen to reggae music.

    I think both the hairstyle and musical preference are symbolic of where a particular person may be at in their lives. To them, it may help them otherwise express what they cannot verbalize.

    But that’s just me and I tend to prefer an inclusive approach to all things…even cultural appropriation.

    It’s a great topic that you’ve brought up though, as it’s always important to question ourselves.

    Get Locked Up!
    Natasha Vincent
    http://MyDreadlocks.com

  2. eric

    Thanks, Natasha, for your comment or for just reading. I am simply pushing buttons and not really expecting anyone to tune in. Since the whole Zidane head-butt thing I have been revisiting all of the cultural arguments that I had always heard while growing up in the States. One of these is the way in which the mainstream “borrows” from others. I do still appreciate Reggae, but definitely not religiously. I listen to Flamenco, Fados, Boleros, Bossa Nova, Opera and plenty of Jazz. I wouldn’t argue that people should not listen to Reggae. I just find it funny watching old White hippies playing tribal drums for an all White European public thinking they are getting something authentic. Take care!

  3. I have questioned these same issues – why does a white person dread and what do the members of the rasta movement feel about such people? With some investigation, I discovered that dreadlocks are not unique to the rastafari. The first known examples of dreadlocks were found in ancient egypt, where they were worn among royalty and commoners. Dreadlocks were also found among Celtic, Viking, and Aztec peoples. So bascially dreadlocks have been worn by a variety of groups throughout history for a variety of social, political, and spiritual reasons and the rasta movement merely adapted an existing sympol and future groups will probably continue to adopt this type of hairstyle.

  4. eric

    Yes, Dreads were also taken for their African historical tradition (they were also worn in India). Cultures and traditions merge and borrow and grow into new cultures and traditions. The questions is what to dreads represent to the White hippie or other White people who sport them?

  5. Iain

    I’m white and my hair could be described as dreaded. My locks though are an expression of my Viking heritage, not anything to do with Reggae or Rastafarianism.

    My god do I have to explain it lots though. *grins*

  6. Well. Interesting post. You arrived a bit late on the scene I’d say, but that’s hardly your fault. When ska first came out, or came to my attention, about 1970, it was very exciting to me. Later, after Bob Marley and the Wailers had become quite famous, I saw Bob on a show in NYC called “Rockers 80” hosted by Earl Chin. I think Bob was up at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center at that time. Earl and Bob smoke a huge spliff on the air, and lapsed into a very stoned conversation. Anyway, I’m glad I got to see that. They played some music, and it was so cool.

    The thing is, Marley was perhaps the most overtly spiritual musician of the last 50 years, along with John Coltrane. His presence among us was a pure gift. I miss him.

  7. Pingback: Grave Error » Where Bob Marley was wrong

  8. connor

    I am a 16 year old who like bob marley’s music and music in general bob marley’s music is both political and regilious the reason marley was so popular was because he was a rebel againt injustice and a person the downtroden people of jamaica could fallow in the belife to stand up for what you think is right and over come obsticales with the help of eah other so there can be peace and on the subject that rasta’s hate or dislike white people i don’t know there exact stance on this subject but i can compare it to the native american’s plight in the last century because native’s were killed and had land stolen from them and were pretty much assimilated into white society with there reilgions made under ground, natives are also being royaly fucked even today so the music has a very close connection as in the same feeling toward white people as do the rasta’s so i can kind of relate to it exept for the fact i am not black( sicentificaly the human race orginated in afica and spread through out the world)

    if rasta’s beilve that white people offended their ansestors so much that they can’t come to forgive and be happy that white people show pubically that this reigion has some signifegance(the wareing of dreadlocks) then Bob Marley’s enitre life will have gone to waste because today usually the Atrocities comitted against black people(ex. genocide and war)are by black people and white people are in fact trying to help. even though they are not exetremely succesful the ARE trying.

    black people hate white people because of slavery which was adolished after white people finally found out it was wrong and only the U.S. fought for slavery and even then only half the country.after this they established the KKK which is a fucking joke.

    finally the rasta’s beilve the use of marijuana is a means of becoming wise or enlightened and if you think about it this goal is nobel and should be respected because in many cultures such as the aztecs (the most advanced anicent civilization) who use a cetrain mushroom as a drug to find enlighenment also native americans use payote for the same reason.

    if rasta’s bielive they know more then the average person they should know that conpemt for others just because of the color of there skin is the exact same reason they were done such grave injustice(saverly, also the reason they would dislike us). And if they judge people because of their skin and not their character then they are more ignerant then wise.

    connor
    peace, “one love, should be law”

  9. I am white, a musician, and a lover / follower of reggae music. (I dont have dreads) You my friend have made some very good points, but I feel what you’ve missed is what reggae is all about. It doesnt matter the color of your skin man, what matters is the message and the pursuit of a better world. Yeah you got “posers”, and white people have been stealing culture and music for centuries from the oppressed. I gather from some of your statements, that you may have heard reggae music but your not listening. No disrespect intended, you seem like a very intelligent person. -brent

  10. eric

    Thanks, Brent! I am just pushing buttons, that’s all.

  11. connor

    brent my views are based on the fact that bob marley is sending the message of spresding peace and justice throught out the world. also that jamacain people love bob marley for this and to do this black people shouldn’t look down on people(even if they have a bad history together) but work together to achive this common goal simply If people really want to make “one love” throught the world they can’t dislike certain people which would defeat the purpose of such a goal

    and the reason for this is that eric quit reggae because he thought is wasn’t for white people and the message is its for anyone willing to listen and love it, but if black people are unwilling to accept white people in to their culture then there is no point and they think people like you and me are trying to destroy it when in fact we want the message to spread throught out the world to all people of every culture in an effort to make the world a better place

    I am white, a musician, and a lover / follower of reggae and all music

    thank you for listen and if you don’t agree with say so

    connor

  12. eric

    Actually, since I wrote this post this summer, I have begun to dig up all of my old reggae discs. What a collection I had of rare roots albums! It really is great music and culturally intersting. But, at the end of the day, reggae is kind of like Christian rock but with better musicians and an attitude.

  13. Brad

    haha wow apparently eric has no clue what he is talking about. Yes apparently you do know about the roots of rastafarianism but if you just read a little more you would have understood that in this way of life, JAH does not care what color your skin is or even what your hair looks like. It is all about what you believe in and what lies in your heart. I understand where you are coming from about white hippies and yes I believe that some whites dread their hair and smoke ganja just to “seem cool” but to most of us whites WITH dreads it is different. I am a 19 yr old white male with dreads and personally follow the rasta ways and I know that ratsafarianism does NOT exclude whites and that it all lies within your heart and what you believe. So please read up a little more on the culture before you “push buttons”. JAH love!!

    Ras Brad

  14. eric

    Ras Brad,

    Thanks for your input. I am not against Rastafarianism at all, but what I am saying is that its central theme revolves around Pan-Africanism and is the expression and interpretation of black people’s experience in the West. I do not dismiss that Rastafarianism may very much be about love and be color blind. Cure me of my cultural ignorance. Could you please inform me then who Jah is, what practicing Rastafarianism entails, what are its tenants, and how it specifically addresses the needs of a white male?

  15. Brad

    Eric,

    You do not have cultural ignorance because obviously you have read or learned a little about Rasta, its just you havent read into it as much. To answer your questions, JAH is in rasta the king of kings and lords of lords. To a rasta JAH is god. We believe that Haile Sellasie I, emperor of Ethiopia(1930-1972) was JAH. And one doesnt “practice” Rastarfarianism, its a way of life. Its a way that we be living our lives and it all lies in our hearts. There is no sepcific needs that it addresses to the white man. Yes in the beginning rastas were against the white man and it was an all black belief, but that lasted for w very short while. It is all about what one believes. It like asking “can a black man be a christian?” The answer is and most always, yes! Its the same in rastafarianism. Can a white man be rasta? Yes. JAH, the king of kings and lord of lords tells us that the color of the skin do not matter. Yes in the rasta culture it is true that whites can never be rasta leaders but there is nothing that states whites cannot be rasta. I hope I answered some of your questions, and if you have any other questions or would like further info I had a list of websites and text books that detail our culture. JAH love!

    Ras Brad

  16. eric

    Thanks, Brad for your response, and for the background information on Rastafarianism . . . yes, it looks like I do not have all of the information. It seems like, though, being a white Rasta is like being a female in the Catholic Church, welcomed but not allowed to have an opinion.

  17. Brad

    I guess you could view it as that in a sense. But in rasta there is nothing to have “an opinion” about. You either live the way of a rasta and believe as a rasta or you dont. Its not something you discuss and give opinions about, its a way of life and what you believe.

    Ras Brad

  18. eric

    Brad, but I imagine that the rasta beliefs are not born spontaneously but rather over time with some consensus. There are no “Haile Selassie Teachings”. Some group of people had to come together and agree on what “rasta” stands for.

    Nevertheless, point taken. I understand you distinguishing Rastafarianism from other more didactic and hierarchical religions.

    Thanks again for sharing your views and devotion.

    My best!

  19. Brad

    Yes there was a group in the 1930’s that came together and developed the “Ras Tafari” idea, but as in any culture is has developed over time. But yes I understand and appreciate what you now know and I thank you for that. Hope all is well. JAH love!

    Ras Brad

  20. Hank Xavier

    Listen – white, black, purple or bright green – we are all slaves to the system. Do you think your priviledge as a white person in America has been any benefit to you? No. It has made us weak and complacent and stupid and self-righteous. It has made us easy prey, sheep, worker bees devoid of independent thought or critical introspection. Do you think that I WANT priviledge that is kept from all men? As a gay white slave to the system of the multi-ethnic global elite, as a man victimised and shackled by the system, as a man among his countrymen cast into war after war after war after war to die and bleed just as red as anyone… I wear them for defiance, for freedom, for justice, honor and equality among all free people of earth.

    Wake up – we are all slaves to the system.
    Down with the NWO

  21. Armando

    I think you need to relax a little. Not everything has to have a deep and ancestral meaning to it. Dreadlocks have been being used for probably more than 5000 years (i think much more) by people of all kind of cultural, religious and ethnic background, and they are not exclusive of the rastafarian religion, nor of black people. The celts wore them, the ancient and actual holly men of india, many tribes around the world, including australian aborigenes, in the pacific islands,south american ancient people, etc. Rastarian religion just took it, but it probably is the oldest hairstyle there is still in use, and no group, be it religious, ethnic or political, have the right to own it. It is even ok if you want to use it by fashion. That’s called freedom.
    As for the old ageing guys that want to play drums, well, they have the right. Don’t they? I just hope when you get older no one judges you like you are judging them.
    You seem a nice hearted person, but you have discrimination all over your thinking system, even if you don’t notice it, or try to avoid it.
    I hope you don’t take my words as an agression, and wish you good luck

  22. Armando

    I just noticed that I pointed out some matters that already had been commented. Sorry for that

  23. vargas

    I don’t think Eric is trying to discriminate against anyone. He is just making an astute observation – people really should listen to the lyrics and the message of the music they have chosen to listen to before they embrace it.

    Kind of like how some women and girls embrace mainstream rap even though much of it is profoundly disrespectful of women. I suppose one can embrace whatever music they want but you do risk looking rather ridiculous if you don’t really understand what it is that you’re listening to.

    In any case my father is Jamaican and knew a lot of Rastafarians and he has a lot of old reggae records that I enjoy listening to.

  24. JMon

    I am white, I have dreads, I love life, and I love diversity. I couldn’t care less what one person or a million people think my hair represents, or to what culture they think it hails. To worry about such things is a distraction to life and the positive vibes that are ever present around me. If you surround yourself with judgments and negativity, it will consume you.

    Peace and Light
    JMon

  25. Loki

    I’m white, but my locks have nothing to do with Rastafari whatsoever. Hell, I don’t listen to Bob Marley, or any Reggae for that matter. Nothing against it, just not my thing.
    I have Celtic anscestors, and they wore locks.
    I’m also smart enough to know not to use shitty wax in my hair. Wax is for candles, not hair.
    This set is backcombed, but my next will be natural. Some folks think white peoples hair wont dread naturaly, but thats not true at all. Black peoples hair just naturally dreads a bit faster.

    http://www.knottylocks.tk.

  26. Lauriann

    Dreadlocks started in Eygpt. Celtic, Roman, Greeks, etc wore lock before Rastas. I am an Irish female with dreads and they have nothing to do with race or religion. I use no wax or oils and I wash my hair every other day. I am proud of who I am and the energy I contribute to our world. Dreads have helped me with deliberate intention. Thank you for this opportunity

  27. Wow, interesting discussion. But I do agree with the above posts that dreadlocks are not only part of rastafarianism.

    They have been part of Vedic culture and yogi’s who worship Lord Shiva for many thousands of years. The Veda’s are the oldest scriptures in the world, and they describe dreadlocks. Just read the Srimad Bhagavatam and other scriptures like that.

    So perhaps those ‘hippies’ are not trying to only imitate the Rasta’s, but rather spiritual principles that they believe in.

  28. Julie

    i say let people dress and wear what they want for it is not how they look but what they believe in and maybe it is a good thing that religious beliefs and things of that matter are being spread throughout races. i was a little offended when i got the impression of you saying white people can’t and shouldn’t be dressing like african americans, because deep down we are all brothers and sisters and should be thankful for Gods creation of such beautiful people. We definitely should not be seperating ourselves from eachother like that slavery shit that went on, but what am i to say anything, i’m just eighteen.

  29. regan

    Man your a fool straight up, I know tons of Black men , and yes thet are rasta and they have no trouble with white people wearing dreads, black people straighten their hair its no big deal, stop being such a idiot man , black is black , and if your white and you wanna wear dreadlock then do it, hey bob marley was half white you know , so should he have gad only have his hair in dread, your out of the loop , i take it you dont know one real rasta cause if you did , you would see the black people who have a problem with white people having dread are not rasta at all ,

  30. eric

    Almost two years later, this post still keeps receiving comments. That’s pretty impressive and was pretty much its purpose — to be polemical and see how people reacted.

  31. Ellie

    I am a white female with dreads, and while I understand and appreciate the reasons behind Rastafarian dreadlocks, I also understand and appreciate the reasons of Sadhu dreadlocks, the Coptic Christian monks who wore dreadlocks, etc, the list goes on. I tend to concentrate on the groups who used dreads as symbols of rejecting aesthetic beauty and rejecting conforming to bodily experiences in order to concentrate on the soulful and divine experiences of their lives. Dreads are a lesson in patience, love, care, and commitment; many of the characteristics one needs when learning to experience God, Jah, or otherwise. I comprehend where people’s associations with Rastafari and dreadlocks comes from, but I also don’t think their misinformation gives them the right to make sweeping generalizations about my participation in “cultural appropriation” or smoking or listening to reggae. Sometimes I feel as though my dreads need to come with a sign, “No, Bob Marley did not invent the dreadlock.” But getting caught up in all this would be an earthly, or bodily experience, which goes against how I feel about my dreads. Quite cyclical, really.

    cheers.

  32. Traitorfish

    What do dreadlocks have to do with being black, let alone Rastafarian? Celts, Greeks, Mexica, Indians, Slavs, Han and Pacific Islanders have all worn dreads, as have Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Christians and countless varieties of “pagan”, all long before Rastafarianism emerged, let alone adopted dreadlocks.
    And, maybe, just maybe, the dreads aren’t about race, aren’t about religion. Maybe the “hippies” aren’t attempting to define themselves by which groups they conform to. Maybe, like me, they’re attempting to define themselves as individuals. What’s wrong with that?

  33. eric

    Traitorfish, I suppose you’re right if the reason that someone sports the dreads has to do with their Greek, Mexica, Slav, etc heritage. Though my guess is that dreads in popular culture has little to do with their historic origins.

    But if a a group of hippies all wear dreads, like yourself, how is that an expression of individuality? Isn’t any form of group behavior or association (defining oneself or others as hippies) a form of conformity? How does one express their individuality without ultimately conforming? How can you be absolutely unique?

  34. Benny

    I am a white, european, spiritual, dreadlocked male, with a viking heritage! I listen to Reggae/Ska/Dub/DrumnBass/Jungle/Hip-Hop/Punk/Rock/Folk… I am aware (but not necessarily a follower) of the Rastafarian religion/movement and take it’s messages to be a positive thing.

    I used to smoke pot but gave it up years ago. Then I grew my hair long and eventually, due to its curly nature and my lack of detanglement skills, it started to ‘dread’ itself. I thought why fight it and asked a friend to ‘tidy’ it up and dreadlock it porperly!

    People will always express themselves however they wish and should not be judged because of it. As hate will always breed hate.

    Listening to Reggae I find, more often than not, the music expresses messages of love, peace and tolerance. So much so that when I get married, to my lovely fiance in August, there will be an abundance of Ska and Reggae played at the reception, to show our love for each other, and have a damn good skank to some proper bouncy Ska as the evening progresses.

    Music like art expresses many things to many people, and if that music instills love for fellow man or standing up and fighting an opressor, is that not a good thing? Whatever race, colour or religion we are all brothers and sisters and should fight injust wherever it occurs, without being judge by our apperance.

    I just wished to share the perspective of ‘a european, white, dreadlocked, reggae lovin, male’. I am also impressed that this post is still attracting comments and stirring up some feeling.

    Peace

    Benny

  35. eric

    Benny,

    Thanks for your comments and congrats on your wedding!!!

    Enjoy!

  36. Vikki

    You bring up a good topic, you’re opinions are very valid. I have dreadlocks and I’m white as hell, not orange white (excessive tanning) just plain white. I didn’t do it because of the new wave hippy movement or because of reggae. And I don’t smoke pott. I just did it because I wanted to and I don’t regret it. I don’t think certain hairstyles only belong to certain religions. Most people however do look at me and see a hippy, stoner, crust freak but that’s their ignorance not mine. Maybe its because it’s not common in the Illinois/Wisconsin area. I don’t know where you live, but dreadlocks aren’t pop culture yet in U.S.A. they’re still frowned upon by mainstream society which is perfect with me. However, I notice that with some of my favortie music genres that the fanbase can seem out of control and a bit rude and ignorant but I don’t quit seeing my favorite musicians I just tune out the people I don’t want to hear, because I figure when they get older they’ll “grow up” and tell their children “yeah I had my phases” and I’ll never see them at a show again. You shouldn’t have to quit your favorite reggae music just tune them out. Maybe they’re really interested in Rastafarian and they are looking for guidance and help from other Rastafarians like yourself.

  37. Ty

    Are there still “white” people out there? Hmm. I guess I’m looking for advise as I am rooted in African, English and Native American cultures. If I put my dreads in a Mohawk, which of my countries of origin would I be offending or appropriating? I was thinking about just shaving it all off so I didn’t have to listen to/read about this particular essay in triviality anymore, but I wouldn’t want to upset any Tibetan Monks… Funny, they never b!#ch about it… Must have something to do with having a religion, similar to the Rastafarian religion and similar the the teachings of Marcus Garvey, focused on inner piece/strength and general, (not just Tibetan) human growth instead of whining and moaning about a hairstyle that they aren’t so short sighted as to believe could possibly “belong” to them. I guess it’ll be interesting to see if humans last long enough to find out what they’re going to do once everyone is the same color, or if they argue and kill one another first because, like little high school girls would say, “She totally stole that from me, like, we’re not friends for the rest of the day.”

    Stop the madness. Teach love. Teach acceptance. Love. Evolve.

  38. Ty

    By the way, before there are any comments about “different struggles” or what not, you might take a look at the link below – Tibetan Monks most certainly have the history and the same rights to be a little peeved, and they damn sure no how to express it a little less pettily. Ironically, it’s an image featured on a band’s album cover who’s members include a Hispanic-Native American (with dreads) and a half white, half black lead guitarist.

  39. The Oppressor

    Wow this has been a great learning opportunity for everyone who reads.I am a white man who is growing my second head of dreads. In easiest terms. . . It is a personal decision PERIOD. As many have commented whether it be against whites wearing them or where they originated from; They have always been a hair style that is symbolic. Whether it be of a Rhastafarian relegion or defiance of society. Ironically enough I was a misled youth that at one time was a Skinhead. . .yes seriously. My first dreads were symbolic to me as a transformation to the realization that “Hate” is nothing more than extra baggage. My new dreads are again my personal decesion now at 35, as a new patient and commited spiritual being. The original author makes good points but should not catagorize every white person that has dreads as being a cultural theif or a wanna be rhastafarian.Dreads were NOT originated by Rhastafarians or Blacks, but who cares. . .what came first the Chicken or the Egg??? The hippie with dreads are only seeking spiritual enlightment. That doesnt hurt anyone. . . However it is a good point that should be more directed to the young white men who walk around reciting gansta rap. And for the ever growing popularity of over rated and over paid and praised so called rap “artist” who preach violence, hate and racism.No different than the KKK and idiot uneducated skin heads. . . it is not the hair style nor the skin color, but what is in the heart that can be judged.
    I think the topic and/or the hair style is a good tool to reveal the true evil people in society. . .those who judge will indeed be judged themselves. As far as Reggae music. . .there are many songs of peace that can be enjoyed, but you would have to be an idiot to try and accept that culture as your own if you are white. . .it is in fact music that expresses that the white man is the evil oppressor.So to you white Rhastafarians. . .”YOU” are not listening to the lyrics. If you are growing Dreads as a white person for the rhastafarian relegion than you may be the reason for crtisism. Follow your own path . . .YOUR HEART. Dreads are symbolic for individualism . . a personal decision and devotion. A white man with dreads is no different than a black man who straigtens his hair or a black woman with a blonde weave.

    • Cosmic Space Wizard

      I dont know if you will ever read this Dominator , i hope you do.
      i came here looking for an answer and your reply is my story also.
      Its encouraging to know that there are outher souls out there on the same or similar path.
      Thank you for sharing.

      Peace, light and BOOMSHANKA!

  40. looloo

    I have for some time myself wondered about embracing Rastafarian ideology. but after some reading and searching the entire net for information i do not think it is something i can embrace. i always thought that the Rastafarian religion was about peace and finding peace and harmony with ones self. but i think over time it has turned into something quite different.

    i am a white woman but have the hope and dreams of a peaceful union between all races (high expectations i know but its something i believe in)and this is what i thought it was all about. but even listening to music from so called Rastafarian’s i hear hate not peace and this is why i would not even try now to follow Rastafarian ways. i love reggae music, it just does something for my soul but i do not like some of the messages being sent though. why preach hate? has the world not seen enough hate? my true wish is for everyone to get along and not be judged on their color or culture. the essence of a person is what i am interested in. i don’t care what color they are. people should look to themselves and be proud of who they are and what they achieve in life. not to blame one race or another for their faults and failures. if i fail it is because of me no one else. the struggles of my ancestors would be in vain if i did not prosper and become a good person.

    i wish peace and good will to all…i truly do.

  41. Zoe

    Educate yourself before spouting off about the cultural relevance of Dreads – ignorance is abhorrent.

    http://worldofjah.ning.com/forum/topics/1042051:Topic:212349?page=1&commentId=1042051%3AComment%3A321792&x=1#1042051Comment321792

  42. Spence

    So I think all of the previous inscriptions of this matter are quite impressive indeed. I have gone through alomost all of them and agree with almost all of the different perspectives. However with the reading I have been doing upon the rastafari culture, hindu culture, sadhu culture, and many more I have been able to create an opinion on all of it as one. LIke someone stated above, the rastafari know that we as people are all brothas and sistas and have all come from one great power, god. The reincarnation of God, ras tafari or haile selassie 1, says that we are all one and it does not matter what skin we are or what hair we have. But that we know, in our hearts and live the peaceful true way of the rastafari man, searching for our true selves and being connected one on one with JAH. You see, the meaning of dreads can be different for all that wear them. IT just depends on the heart of the individual and his connection with jah, if any connection at all.

  43. jason

    It seams you know alot about the rastafarian culture, but are totally oblivious to yours. Dreadlocks pop up all over the world for many different reasons. For example the vikings would lock and bleach there hair to strike fear in there enemys and make themselves godlike. So maybe that white boy with dreads isnt stealing somone elses culture but embracing there own.

  44. Lisa

    Everybody seems to have so much to say about this topic! so maybe you can help me out..what exactly are the links between Pan- Pan-Africanism and Rastafarianism?

  45. for all you white people or black who keep saying rastafarianism has nothing to do with race. and that you locs have nothing to do with rastarfarians you are doing exactly what he said in the article. somebody said that egypt was the first place locs were known to be worn. who were the ancient egyptians black africans that had their culture and history stolen from them by europeans and arabs that were allowed to assimilulate into it. now africans have to aurgue to this day about who were the ancient egyptians. i can picture 3000 years from now people aurging about were the rastafarians black or white. youre also doing the same thing by claiming it isnt a hair style that originated with africans. why do you have to steal our identity in order to justify your occupation in a culture that has no significance for you besides smoking weed. and being lazy. babylon was built for you to prosper n. dont use our culture to rebel against society go be a hippy stop wearing a hairstyle that doesnt come natural to you because it defeats the whole purpose. you are not rastafarians you a wolfs.

    • Ronnie Jenkins

      Then don’t a car buddy. Or fly on a plane. Don’t use your credit card or cell phone. Don’t hop on a computer to email. Don’t use Facebook. Or Twitter. Or hell even QWERTY keyboard!!! White people invented all of that. So stfu and quit acting like races are only entiltled to what each race has contributed to, because guess what?!? Each race has done greater for mankind. Don’t forget that we all bleed red. We’re all humans.

  46. every time we introduce you people to our culture you all fake it into you can make it your own. the jewish people were taught hebrew traditions by black isrealites now we have to aurgue with you all about that. rock and roll originated with us. now ask anybody under the age of 25 and they will probally think rock and roll is a white thing. truth is 10000 years ago black people were the only people on the earth. but we are arguring with every body on the earth about our history that was left in some part of thats occupied by different races of people that was not there when the history was made.

  47. paulie

    thats was the biggest waist of time ever. anyone can listen to reggae you dont have to be black just to listen to certain music and also dreads kick ass no matter who has em black or white or pink or purple.

  48. Mike

    Rasta is a religion, Reggae is a form of music. Dredlocks are a form of style. The cross may be symbolic to christianity, but not for music, style or culture. Rasta stands for a religion, thats it. Reggae stands for the lifestyle of the people that choose to listen. I think you were to young to ever understand the true meaning of the music. Its about the hard times, friendship, and all the love in between. Loving life and those around you is a message delivered though the music. enjoy it, dont over analyze it into a religion. And yes i know that rasta’s began the music, and the idea still remains the same. I dont believe in any religions, they are based off conformity for the masses to unite for answers of life. They are like sodas, pick your flavor, and your sold.

  49. tom

    Many of the points you have made i agree with, including the fact that some ‘white hippies’ can be seen as stealing cultures. The fact is today in much of the western world, liberlism is a key ideology, and the freedom to choose what one does and follows, and in my opionion, who are we to judge.
    We live in free countries, in which white people can have black hairstyles, and black people can have perms to make their hair more ‘white’. Many of the hippies i have met are the nicest human beings i have personally ever met, and take bits from all different cultures to help create a union of ideas and beliefs which create a peaceful and loving enviroment.
    My final point is why do dreads have to be connected to religion all the time, dreads take dedication, time and effort and are a true symbol of ones endurance, and are a way of expressing ones ideals whatever colour they may be.
    Thanks x

  50. Love

    Ey,

    Every man can become Rasta, no matter if you are Black or White, I even think that Ras Tafari himself does not allow Racism, and even the Twelve Tribes of Israel ( wich is a big house of Rasta ) does NOT allow racism…
    I know Rastas, they dont care if you are white or black, as long you are peacefull….
    And thaat some say that Rastas HATE ALL white people is fake, even Jamaican Rasta artists made songs with artists from Germany, Sweden and so on….

    ~Peace

  51. Yaa

    Someone asked what do dreads have to do with being black? Dreads have everything to do with being black. Dreads started in Africa in the Nile Valley area, in Kenya and Uganda and, and made their way to Kemet (Egypt). Why do white people constantly steal black culture and discredit us for everything. Black textured hair is the only hair that naturally locs, not mat. It locs because the coils wrap around each other and actually loc. No backcombing involved. It’s ridiculous to deny that dreads are black culture and started with black people, not only in Africa, but in other parts of the world. Every time white folks are ready to adopt (steal) black culture, they start lying aboutit’s origin to make their selves more comfortable with taking it. Why is it so hard to give black people credit for what they created. Whites have historically done this to make the world believe we have contributed nothing. I guess whites feel uncomfortable admiring a people that they have hated for so long. It’s the same with hiphop and other aspects of black culture. Whites are now saying hiphop is universal and not just for black people. RIDICULOUS!!!! First, black people are hated for embracing their own culure, then when whites embrace black culture, it’s an expression of “individualism and liberation”. I’m sick of the double standard. Many black people can’t even get a job for wearing their hair in natural hairstyles but you want us to be understanding to whites wearing them. Black people have never been able to fit into white standards of beauty and now whites attempt to embrace a hairstyle that is natural to black hair. I have a problem with that. No whites, Indians, Celts, Vikings, Asians or anyone were wearing dreads, or even knew of them, BEFORE BLACK PEOPLE; THAT IS THE TRUTH AND CAN NOT BE REFUTED!!!!!!! BLACK PEOPLE WERE THE FIRST TO WEAR THEM AND THEN THEY SPREADED THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, JUST AS OUR CULTURE IS DOING TODAY. WHAT LYING THEIVES, TO SAY THAT LOCS ARE NOT BLACK CULTURE AND DIDN’T START WITH US!!!!!!

    • Ronnie Jenkins

      Than stop driving a car, using electricity, hell even using a phone or computer because guess what? White people invented all of this. It’s fucking sad that now we have to figure and point out which race did what and which race did this? How about, we all bleed red, we all have body parts, and that we are ALL HUMAN!

  52. Yaa

    I agree completely with Cliff (comments 45 and 46). The Egyptians were black and now we have to argue and fight about our own people and culture. White folks always try to mention Kemet (Egypt) along with Celts, Greeks, Romans and other white nations/people to subtly say they were white. FACT: The Egyptians were ALL BLACK AND AT ONE POINT, AFRICA WAS ALL BLACK!!!!

  53. Josh

    Look, Anyone can choose to follow whatever religion they so desire for whatever reason, it all depends on an individuals beliefs or needs perhaps as I’m sure each religion has its own form of spiritual atonement. I’m white, do not follow any religion, believe in equality – and proper equal equality, not just saying everyone is and then.. everyone isn’t. See people on here like “Oh dreads are only for black people bla bla bla, religion only for black people, this I see as a form of hypocrisy, would YOU kindly leave OUR lands and stop using OUR inventions and OUR form of christianity? No ofcourse you won’t, I don’t expect or want you to, but equality goes both ways, and should never one side outweigh the other simply because of past discrepancies.

  54. Tony

    Jeez. I have been observing the hippie/dreadlock/rasta culture for over 20 years now. And my personal conclusion is that if it smoking pot was NOT a part rastafarianism, the white dreadlock hippies would have no interest in the rasta religion whatsoever. I do find it both nauseating and comical to see white hippies talking with fakin’ Jamaican accents. In fact, here’s the lyrics to a song I wrote about the whole thing…..Enjoy.

    “Ego Trippin’ in the Name of Jah”

    Ego trippin’
    In the name of Jah!
    Ego trippin’
    In the name of Jah!

    Yes I !!!
    My dreads is phat
    And my dreads is long
    My clothes is like Moses
    And yes I smoke a glass bong

    I drive daddy’s Beamer
    ‘Cause they da best
    I only hang out with my kind
    And screw the rest

    To hell with Babylon
    And society!
    But I will take food stamps
    And whatever else is free!

    I only eat organic
    ‘Cause it cost the most
    Gotta stay good looking
    When I tour coast to coast

    ‘Cause hippie chicks dig me
    What else do ya think?
    ‘Specially when I wear patchouli
    To cover up da stink

    ‘Cause I don’t believe in showers
    Or bars of soap
    ‘Cause it’s bad for the earth
    Plus I need the money for dope

    I only listen to the Dead,
    Reggae and Phish
    I’m one of a kind
    And don’t you wish!

    When you see me play my song
    Notice how I sway and swoon
    Even though my lyrics suck
    And my guitar is out of tune

    I always find a good spot
    For my meditation
    So I can look like Jesus
    For your fascination

    When you see me comin’
    You are in for a treat
    ‘Cause you’ll get to kneel before me
    and kiss my feet

    My friends are all impressed
    When they see me walkin’ by
    Cause my clothes are made of hemp
    But not the kind that gets you high

  55. Nate

    Eric, just to follow up to your posts- I’m sure somebody has stated this, but dreadlocks are the natural state of human hair when not combed or treated with synthesized chemicals. Simply put, dreadlocks were the hairstyle that most of humanity likely wore before organized society began. Before combs, razors, scissors and processed chemical shampoos existed, everyone had dreadlocks. They are not exclusive to black people, white people, asian people or any race. They are simply the natural way hair exists in nature.

    I am in favor of dreadlocks and have grown my own because of this. I like reggae music and all types of music but don’t consider myself a rastafarian at all. That, obviously, is a religion that is better left to black people. But dreadlocks are the natural state of hair for all humanity.

    An additional note- you don’t need to not wash or comb your hair to make dreadlocks. A change of shampoo is needed, though. Shampoos like head & shoulders and other large corporate brands contain laboratory chemicals that break down the natural chemicals in our hair that causes it to clump. This is why most people don”t have dreads. If you switch to a natural, organic shampoo and get your hair twisted, you will have dreadlocks after growing it out for some time.

    Peace to everyone

  56. Steve

    I think its important to understand that all people can appreciate reggae. One of the founding ideas of Rastafarianism is that African’s can claim their culture even though they were taken away from their homes and given a new identity by their European slave masters and the Missionaries that followed. As a white person living in America, I connect with reggae music because I feel that homogenization is destroying our country and feel that its important that people protect their culture. Reggae music reminds me of my Italian culture, and the culture my grandparents brought and how important it is for me to protect my cultural identity from “Babylon” the city of homogenization.

    That is why I appreciate reggae on a deep emotional level, but I do not wear dread locks or bang tribal drums. I accept their culture for what it is, but prefer to wear my own culture. Listening to music from another culture doesn’t mean you have to live that culture, you can just apply it to your own. It’s like me watching a movie about a family, and trying to relate. I know its not my family on the screen, but that doesn’t mean that I have to completely disassociate with it.

  57. Tim

    Hmmm… you know, it is quite possible for a person to wear dreadlocks without having any association with rastafari and without listening to reggae.

    Man, when you push buttons, you give them a mighty shove – or are there really so many people can’t resist categorising and pigeonholing their fellow humans?

    Let’s love our neighbours without demeaning them and ourselves with definitions and assumptions.

    Love, Tim

  58. Francesca

    I am a white female who has just started locks of her own, and after studying the roots of this controversial style still have the courage to express it. I was unaware that the term “dreadlocks” is actually offensive to many people. I’ve since corrected myself and referred to the style as locks. I do not wish to be associated with rastafarian movement or the roots of africa but in history and to many people this style is extremely cultural, starting at a very young age, depicting religion and god. It’s almost a waste trying to convince anyone to feel different about it. hey if a black person wants to be a christian, or a buddhist or a catholic they can…I believe religion should be shared. Love should be universal, we cannot move on from the past until we accept that. I do not believe the color of anyones skin should discriminate them from a certain hairstyle, or music genre. I enjoy reggae, and country and many other styles of music, clothing, and religion. I love god in every language, dialect…I love my sisters and brothers because we are all gods people…:)

  59. Pastor Hunter

    I am responding to the comments made about whites adopting “dreadlocks” and other elements of Black culture while negating the origin of such by suggesting that dreads did not originate in Africa.
    I don’t have a problem with people admiring other people’s culture; I have a problem with people denying that they or their ancestors adopted, borrowed, or stole from other people’s cultures. Commerce and religious dialogue along with intermarriage were in existence thousands of years before Obama, the Civil Rights Movement or even the Roman empire. Numbers 12:1 tells us Moses married an Ethiopian. Paul tells us in the New Testament Timothy, the bishop of Ephesis, was part Jew and part Greek. And with regards to “dreads” being associated with the Hindu god Shiva, this “deity” was black and is still worshipped by Dravidians of India and are “black.” The bottom line is this: We’re all related and connected, whether we like it or not. We should just admit it and get ourselves right with each other and the Creator (Ezekiel chapter 3 and chapter 33). Period.

  60. Tomás

    Since all white people are decended from black people, then surley all our culture is one culture at the deepest level, this seperation and idiots demanding credit for what people thoudsands of years ago did with their hair, get lost, it was them not you, that fair back our gradfathers could even be the same person, so your point is stupid, ignorant and racist. All people are one, idiots like you create seperation.

  61. white guy with dreadlocks

    two words: HUMAN BEING

    It’s time people stop focusing on differences and start focusing on similarities. We all bleed, have a mother, live on this earth and have a right to enjoy all different forms of expression.

    The tribe those people you write about belong to is called the “Human Tribe” and it has no boundaries.

    Cheers to all the excellent comments on this board.

    ONE LOVE

  62. Chris

    The purpose of reggae music is rooted in the bible. I am currently visiting rastafarians, and the man is humble in embracing me. There are very obvious points you have made about the music focusing on blacks coming back to their roots. But Its obvious that there are rastas that are honoured a white man could be on the same consciousness. All men have come from the same parents, skin color is only genetics. Africans are simply a reminder of our roots, throw the suit and tie away dude, that aint my white culture.

  63. Rosco

    “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
    — Dr. Seuss

    Jah Love – One Love

  64. Timzaao

    Ridiculous uninformed post!
    Rastas are basically black hippies who have adopted an ideology to create and give a sense of culture to a people who through slavery were robbed of their regional rites and practices.

    In terms of people imitating their styles I dont find dreadlocks on white people visually attractive in any.Dyed hair and tattoos also dont inspire me.This something that I feel but I feel that for those that enjoy their crusty white dreads leave them in their world.

    jamaican music is something special and meant for all who want to hear it and the rasta element is a part of it but by no means the be all and end all.Baled heads made Ska music and rocksteady.King tubby had no dreads neither did Bunny lee or scientist or Prince jammy.these guys mixed and produced thousands
    of records with rasta messages and lots without.

    I personally think whoever put up the original post needs to delve a bit further into the world of Jamaican music before spitting out such ill informed prejudiced tripe.

    music is music its for those that chose to listen and hear.

  65. Marcus

    Im a goth. I have long black dreadlocks. Ive had em for 20 years. I listen to goth not reggae. I like my dreads and ill continue. I couldnt give a stuff what anyone thinks cos any culture can lock up their hair and ill do as I please thanks 🙂

  66. Untill the colour off a mans skin is no more significant than the colour off his eyes a sentence out off the speech Hailie Selasei (Jah) gave to the united nations. To be a Rasta is much more than whether you smoke Ganja or have dreadlocks there is enough fashion dread out there belive me. To be a true Rasta is to belive in the divinity that Hailie Selasei the first is Christ in his Kingly Character basicaly the second coming off Jesus different Rastas have different overstandings about him but he was more than just a man. if you hold this in your heart what colour or creed you are Is irrelevant Jah see and know.

  67. Ronnie Jenkins

    This is the biggest load of shit I have ever laid my eyes on, let alone READ…. Race is a social construct. Races don’t have entitlements on culture. ANYONE can belong to ANY culture. You saying that whites can’t have dreadlocks is equivalent to saying blacks can’t have cars. (Cars were invented by a WHITE man, Karl Benz and the automobile became a part of Germany’s culture) See how ridiculous that sounds?!!? What about me? I’m a Tongan but was raised here in America. Are those with genuine American genes only entitled to its culture? Because I know a lot more about Americas history and culture more than “my” own countries cultures. If you believe in all this non-sense bullshit that you spent countless hours typing, than we might as well live back in the 60’s when segregation was at its peak. You’re a fool and should give up writing.

  68. Les

    Eric I must thank you for bringing up the subject of reggae and Rastafari. I believe South African whites have listened and like
    you have had their reservations.Not too many SA’s like this music
    and with good reason.Hardly surprising that Bob Marley and The
    Wailers were invited by Zimbabwe’s president Robert Magabe in 1981 for a independance celebration concert. Rhodesia and White rule SA did not embrace BM and the Ws. Eric you have to
    be careful that people do not see you in the same light. A lot of water has crossed under the bridge since then and the aeroplane
    has made the world smaller with integration taking place at a pace that I did not imagine. Yes,pockets of one type people exist
    but we can see the end of the tunnel. The colour of one’s skin will be of little significance like the colour of one’s eye. we are in a time of turbulance where cultures are mixing. Where this takes us
    I don’t know but love endures forever.Focus on differences out of interest but not for bigoted reasons. Variety is the spice of life so
    let us embrace it.

  69. Ropey Wyla

    It’s no coincidence people of all creeds identify with Rasta. Rastafari is a powerful message that is meant to reach the hearts of all people and in many ways has through the beauty of reggae music. I am grateful to hear that message and to feel it in my heart every single day, it makes me a better human.

  70. You stopped listening to reggae music, although you like it, because of white hippies with dreads? serious?
    what was the ‘mature’ part of your concerning?
    These people you call white hippies with dreadlocks are expressing themself, living their way, i would maintain mostly peacfull, harmless and maybe not at all exemplary but i am sure the most of them are anti capitalists “fighting” for a more peacefull world without oppression and things like that. And with “fighting” i mean they live their peacfull life and are not greedy at all, but generous and humble.
    As already stated dreads aren’t a special thing about rastafarians or africans. Dreadlocks are multicultural like drumming.
    maybe the hair of an african is more predestined to become matted, but celts, vikings and asian cultures wear dreadlocks too!!!
    I for myself dont wear dreads, but i often think about it, because i like it and i can tell you what i for myself want to say with this type of hair.
    It is the same thing i now represent with my long, blonde hairs, that let me look like a viking heavy metal guy, although i am listening to Reggae Music since i am15 years old and now getting 40 in some weeks. So if i decide to dread my hair i will be some of these old white hippies with dreads you are accusing.
    For me it is about stating my personal rebellion against konformism.
    It’s about to Show mylove to Reggae Music and most of what it stand for: Peace, Love, Unity! And ist because that Viking Type of man i am, and the reference of my ancients and not of rastafarianism.
    I am following the philosophy of Wu Wei a part of Daosims, because i am an Aikidoka too.
    Simple as that. I dont want to become a rastafarian, but i maybe want to be a person with dreadlocks. And why not?
    Because you cannot adapt that cultures spread around the world and change? Because this cultural highlight from Jamiaca, Reggae Music becomes famous all over the world and unite people in love to the music?
    regardless of their skin color?!?
    And by this the Music changed, become influenced by other cultures, just think of spanish influenced Reggae from south america and think of Reggae artists from Germany, England, Scotland, France and even China!
    and thats great i think.
    Reggae is not compelling a political or religious or only a thing about oppressed culture or black skinned humans. Reggae is a Spirit.
    I don’t know where i read this following sentence, but:
    “Whites cannot partake Reggae or Rastafarianism culturally , but spitiutally.”
    And spiritually doesnt mean it’s compelling religious.
    For me spiritually means that i agree with the spirit of what Reggae Artist all over the world unite. And that is Peace, Love and Respect to each other, including white Hippies with Dreadlocks and their intentions, as long as they are not colliding with the Spirit of Reggae!

  71. Sister Aisha

    Rastafari is my religion. I see di world tru di eye jah!!! Black or white or hippie or where we come from, we are all Jah Jah children.

  72. Maegann

    The fact you refer to Rastafari as a religion is enough for me to quit reading this post. Rastafari sacred colors are red, green, gold, white, and black. Black represent africanness. Not skin color. Africanness. There are people who are born in Africa, that are African, that are white of complexion. Did you know that Bob Marley’ s family was white? Rastafari is a way of life. Not a religion, and any true rastafari following individual will tell you so. It is unwise to claim you are wise about anything at all. Be mindful, spread love. Do not judge others. This is the true rastafari way. Peace be the journey friend. Don’t forget to smile.

  73. Karan Mandal

    Rasta is a livity braadda no room for man made religion ✊🙏 wake up ppl

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s