Dreadlocks have roots in various cultures and can carry significant cultural or spiritual meaning. Like in the Rastafarian community, many people have adopted dreadlocks as a fashion statement.
Individuals with deadlocks are no strangers to profilism. Common misconceptions include associating dreadlocks with a lack of professionalism, criminal behavior, or a general disregard for societal norms. Such stereotyping is often encountered in various aspects of life, such as the workplace, education, and daily interactions.
In a chilling series of events on 08 August 2021, four young men tragically lost their lives after falling victim to a horrifying case of prejudice-driven violence in Kitengela, Kajiado County. Having been mistaken for livestock thieves, the men fell victim to profiling due to their distinctive appearance, hooded in dreadlocks and tattoos.
The story of Makeda Ndinda, a 15-year-old student from Kibera, Nairobi County, who was sent away from school because of her dreadlocks hairstyle, illustrates the discrimination individuals with dreadlocks face. Makedav was excluded from wearing dreadlocks as part of her religious beliefs, a stark example of how social norms can infringe on someone’s freedom.
In another distressing incident, Riki a member of the Wanavokali Music group, was falsely arrested and profiled by the police, solely due to his dreadlocks. These heart-wrenching stories underscore the urgent need to address profilism, ensuring that no one is judged or maltreated based on their appearance or choices.
Individuals with dreadlocks have been actively challenging these stereotypes. They assert their right to express themselves through their fashion choices, while proving that one’s hairstyle does not define their character or capabilities, and so is the greatest reggae musician Bob Marley, who stated: ”Dreadlocks represents the trinity of life: Mind, Body and Soul.” There are many people with dreadlocks who are successful professionals, educators, artists, etc., debunking the myth that hairstyle is incompatible with professionalism.
Dreadlocks are a powerful form of self-expression. Individuals who choose this hairstyle should not face profilism or discrimination based on their fashion choices.
”Individuals should not be judged by their hairstyle but rather on their character and abilities”. – Natural Hair Movement.