I’ve had this in mind to pen for a while now…Since I cut my hair, I’ve been quietly accumulating notes on the varied reactions, which have spanned two distinct categories. The first has to do with stereotyping and the other is role modelling.
Let me get ‘role-modelling’ out of the way. After wearing dreadlocks for seven years, and living where I’ve lived for about three(3) of those, when I cut it, people I’m thrice certain I’d never seen before commented as they saw me on the streets, “Oh my gosh, you cut your hair!” , and I’m like, ‘Ehrm, we’ve met?!’ I have not ever seen about 50% of these people. I know I can be oblivious at times, but I’m not that unobservant. Clearly, people see you even when you think you’re not being seen. It’s something to consider with regards to bearing out the stamp of Christianity. You’re being watched ALL the time. Burden, hmmmneh…responsibility, yes.
The second, oh I had some laughs with this one. So, I think my temperament, reserved, quiet-ish..etc along with the dreadlocks must have given people the impression that I was a ‘Rastafarian’. Added to that, some people know that I don’t eat meat, well, yep, that must have did it. There was a time in my life when I studied and adopted Rastafarianism, until the curious side of me that researches everything found that the belief system wasn’t fitting logically in my head. How can one believe in a savior who himself believes in another savior, whilst half-believing in a book who points to that savior as having attributes that the savior upheld does not sustain in his being. That however, was in the past, and that was even before I grew this last head of dreadlocks – I’ve done so three(3) times before. I believe 120% that Jesus Christ is Lord of Lords and King of Kings, and is the Lord AND King of my life as well. This means that my hair is just my hair, and has no inherent meaning or sentiment, other than the fact that it grows as I grow. Sooo, I say that to say, that when I CUT my hair, all those eyes who came out from behind their curtains – some of which I’m certain I’ve never seen, yea – confessed that they thought I was a ‘Rasta’, and how I’d disappointed the ‘faith’.
But my point doesn’t end there, it just began..and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You see, we label people so easily that I’m sure we’re doing it to our friends, family and children (and I know it was done to me as a child, and that is a whole other book to be written), and each other without even noticing. We see two clues and make a whole picture of a person. So I don’t eat meat, and I have dreadlocks so I must (a) be a Rastafarian, (b) smoke weed or (c) believe that Selassie I is more than just a man (which I don’t eh, if you are only scanning through and not actually reading this)…I mean the list goes on… Ontop of that, now that (1) the tattoo behind my neck that has been there for the past ten(10) years is visible [no hair to block it] (2) I have a Mohawk, (3) I live in town and (4) the unused eyebrow piercing is suddenly visible (that has been there even longer – about 12 years now) – I have a new label – I am now being called a ‘hot ting’…wow.
Labeling and sterotyping, it’s dangerous, limiting, and really stops you from getting to know people at all, because you develop all these ideas about them, and start to assess everything they say against the picture you’ve built of them in your head. And we all do it, to some degree, it’s how we make our world easier to digest – by categorising people, places and things. The danger though, is in believing that people are the sum total of a few ‘indicators’, which most times, aren’t ‘indicators’ at all.