Don't Worry Be NAPPY!
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How I Grew My Crown Of Dreadlocks

“Plenty people have the wrong idea about this locks thing. Like I read in a magazine: ‘Marley came onstage with his waxed locks.’ Now that is very much a lie because I could never sit down and put wax on my hair, my wool, to keep it together. It would be clammy and stink man. Them blind man! This come natural.”
Bob Marley

After speaking with hair stylists, Rastafarians, and others, I discovered a few things everyone should know about dreadlocks. First, they are not an instant hairstyle. The process in which hair develops to dreadlocks could take weeks, months, or even a year.

The secret to growing dreadlocks is that there is no secret. There are many different ways to create dreadlocks and it all depends on you, your goals, and believe it or not, the texture of your hair. I wanted to grow dreadlocks as fast as I possibly could. But the reality is that no matter what method you decide to use, dreadlocks are not an instant hairstyle that you can get in one hour or a day.

As I stated before dreadlocks are the result of allowing the hair get -nappy- uncombed and unkempt. The object of the game is to force sections of the hair to come together, intertwine (like a vine), and continue to grow into locks or ropes. As I look closely my own dreadlocks, I can see about thousands of hair strands intricately intertwined together. It closely resembles a rope (the kind used by cowboys), which is nothing more than stands of fiber twisted tightly.

To have long lasting dreadlocks, it could take weeks, months, or even a year. You may or may not need a loctician (a person professionally trained to create dreadlocks) or the use of chemicals. If you ask others with dreadlocks how they got them, you are bound to get many different answers. Why? Because each person's hair texture is different and has it own "personality".

What works for others, or how long it took to create their dreadlocks may or may not work for you. The bottom line is "know thy hair." Is it naturally coarse, straight, spongy, or curly? Your type of hair will determine how easy or complicated it may be to grow dreadlocks. The bottom line: "know thy hair." There are several ways to develop dreadlocks. Let's explore the five most popular ways.

1. Letting Dirt Take Control (BAD IDEA) – One way to develop dreadlocks is to let the hair matte together with dirt by not shampooing for long lengths of time. This is a bad idea because not only does dirty hair look horrible, it smells awful.

This is the worst way to develop dreadlocks. Those who have chosen this process either have not taken the time to find other alternatives or are simply ignorant about the process.

2. Twisting the Dreadlocks Your Way — Long naturally straight, spongy, or curly hair, can develop dreadlocks through twisting. This process involves having a hair stylist or friend part your hair into sections, similar to braiding. Instead of braiding the hair, it is "back combed" or twisted with beeswax or any substance used to make the stands of hair "stick" together.

With this process hair is forced to develop dreadlocks in a certain fashion. Until the hair actually starts intertwining or locking naturally, several weekly or monthly sessions are required for re-twisting. Read the chapter "The Beeswax Approach" which discusses how the actual process works.

3. From Braids to Dreadlocks — Braiding hair is another way to develop dreadlocks. Creating many short or long braids is the best way to make this process work. If the hair is not long enough add extensions.

The key to this process is leaving hair braided long enough for it to start developing dreadlocks at the bottom of each braid. Once the dreadlocks reach the desired length, the braided ends are cut.

4. Yarn Dreadlocks — This process involves braids and acrylic yarn. The yarn is braided into the hair and then wrapped around the braid. Once completed, it gives the illusion of real natural dreadlocks. If the hair is left in this state, it will eventually grow or transform into real dreadlocks.

5. The Natural Route — This means absolutely nothing is done to your hair but wash and go. This process takes the longest and requires a high degree of patience.

The hair will first grow into an Afro and later into dreadlocks. I cannot quite explain how this happens, but one day your hair develops a wild-looking nappy Afro, which later turns into wonderful dreadlocks.

In my case twisting and braiding were ruled out because I did not want to spend the time or money required and I didn't have any hair to begin with. I decided to go all natural and let the dreads "lock" where they may. Clippers, hairbrushes, Doo rags, and DAX hair grease became enemies of my hair. Not another man-made product was going to touch my hair, except all-natural shampoo.

As Bob Marley says, "Plenty people have the wrong idea about this locks thing. Like I read in a magazine: `Marley came onstage with his waxed locks.' Now that is very much a lie because I could never sit down and put wax on my hair, my wool, to keep it together. It would be clammy and stink man. Them blind man! This come natural"

The Nappy Headed Ugly Duckling

Taking the natural route means dealing with ugly nappy hair. Not knowing how long the process would take, I had hoped the dreadlocks would come in a month or so. My hair had its own agenda and did not start "locking" as fast as expected.

As my hair continued to grow, it created one of the nappiest little Afros. Wool on sheep is exactly how it looked. Upon waking each morning, I would use my hands to un-matte sides slept on during the night, sort of evening it up.

Underneath my nappy little Afro, strains of hair were intertwining in sections at the root. Each day, the intertwined sections pulled growing hair back down to the root, thus creating dreadlocks. Parting my hair, I could see the little dreadlocks being formed.

None Of Your Spiritual Business

As I started developing dreadlocks while working my corporate job my hair looked bad. Many thought I just did not give a damn, but in reality, I did.

As I continued to work, I dressed to the tee: suit, tie, nappy hair, and all. Despite my intentions to look as GQ as possible, stares at my nappy bush of hair followed everywhere I went. People talked about me and made many jokes wondering was I ever going to comb or cut my hair.

Soon my unorthodox nappy hair got the attention of managers, particularly the vice president of the department. One day he stopped me in the hall with a stern look of concern on his face.

"Hi, Jeff, how are you doing?" His gaze wandered from the top of my head to my eyes. "Fine, Matt, and you?" I responded. "How are things in the command center?" asked Matt. "Great. We've drafted and implemented the new policies to help customers resolve issues in a faster manner" I said. "Good. Good. I'd like to see them one day." I nodded, "Just let me know when you'll be coming by and I'll have a draft sent to your office for review before you come." Looking directly at my hair, he said in a low voice, "Your hair is getting really long."

Since Matt was bald on the top of his head, I had no other response but, "Yeah, I'm letting it grow naturally." "Natural, hum. You do know about the dress codes?" asked Matt. "Yeah, I read them." We parted.

I studied the dress code policy. No instructions existed about hair length or style. On another occasion at a local grocery store, two black men screamed at me saying, "Damn, Nigger! Why don't you comb your hair?" as my son and I were leaving the grocery store. I simply ignored them and went about my business.

Now, I had expected to get stares and uneasiness from white people but definitely not from Black people. The remark embarrassed me and my son. The incident made me realize how much natural coarse hair is disliked in our society.

Because of faith in my vision, I shook off all types of remarks. Others negative thoughts of dreadlocks is none of your spiritual business. God never gives us the desire to make positive changes in life without first giving us the ability and strength to handle all the challenges.

The Black Swan Emerges

After about six months, I had a head full of dreadlocks. My hair had entwined itself into dreadlocks about four inches long.

During the process, the only control I had over how they looked was through "popping." Since I desired long thin dreadlocks, any two dreadlocks growing together were pulled apart making a "popping" sound.

Today, twenty years later, my dreadlocks are long, healthy, and handsome! I have allowed them to grow long passed my waist. They have been trimmed once. The cut dreadlocks are stored in a special and sacred place in my home.

My mother advised me to always keep, burn, or hide any hair fallen from me because someone could use it to cast a spell on you. Whether this is true or not, I honor the words of my mother keeping all fallen dreadlocks.

With dreadlocks, I have accomplished many things such as: worked at five major corporations, self-taught myself to build and repair computers; started a parenting magazine & newsletter; published a book of children's plays; and started an Internet business. One more note, my income has tripled!

My accomplishments came from a strong desire to define myself by my own standards. Every idea started with a vision of the end result. I did not worry how it will be done, but it will be done. Next, I planned my work and work the plan and viola - success!

Whatever goals or ideas you have, hold on to your vision as though your life depended on it, because in most cases it does.

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"I must tell you that your words are inspirational, uplifting and gives me continued strength  in my own personal/professional growth process."
Launce C. Braddock