Often times you will hear people say I have locs because I refuse to call my hair “dreadful”. It also has been said that dreadlocks has a demeaning connotation which roots are derived from Jamaica. While many people may think dreadlocks originated in Jamaica this is incorrect. Before Jamaicans, many cultures have worn dreadlocks such as the Yogis of India and Egyptians.
The style came in contact with Jamaican culture through the slavery of Indians. Though it is said that the idea of dreads originated from the Bible.
Even today you can find modern day Yogis in India with their hair in Dreadlocks. Dreadlocks to these people are more than just a hairstyle. It is a denial of one’s own personal needs and it is a part of the quest to connect with the divine.
Now where are people getting this negative feeling from the word dreadlock?
I was curious about this feeling, when I had dreadlocks or locs I had no problem calling them either or and I wonder about the negativity behind the term. So I decided to ask my father who was born and raised in Jamaica. Through this conversation I discovered Jamaicans use the term “dread” as a term of respect, just like you would use “Sir” to address someone you are not familiar with and would like to show respect to.
Jamaican Patois Definitions of Dread
A person who has dreadlocks
Greeting to friend
Expression of a good idea
Awe or astonishment
Now here is where the confusion sets in?
“dreadful power of the holy”
Now this Jamaican Patois definition is derived from the religious roots that dreadlocks have. People feared and respected those who wore dreadlocks. Those who were associated with dreadlocks were thought of as holy and powerful. They were thought to have this spiritual connectedness with the divine that separated them from the others. If you were to even speak with a present day Yogi they would tell you that their journey separates them from the world around them.
Now does this make “dreadlock” a negative term because it is associated with being “dreadful”, well it all depends on your perspective, as no two people will agree I am sure. However, before you just accept that the term “dreadlock” has a negative meaning please do your own research and then you determine for yourself, don’t just follow the lead of all the conflicting sources of information out there.