New stories

Blacks Get Weave; Can Whites Get Locks?

Race Manners: You can, but it's not the same. Don't expect to enjoy the style without the scrutiny.

(Continued from Page 1)

Another worried that a white person who makes the "personal choice" to "go Rasta" might also be communicating a perception that they have "new license to engage and be down without checking their privilege."


One reader, when I pushed back on her take that locked white hair just looked "weird and unkempt," said, "Wait! Maybe I do have racial feelings, 'cause I'm also kinda like, 'Dammit, we can't have nothing to ourselves!' "


It goes without saying that in the best-possible world, everyone would get to know your friend as an individual rather than making assumptions about him based on his appearance.

But, as these reactions demonstrate -- and as I'm sure you already know -- we don't live in that world.

As Demby put it, your buddy is going to have to accept that if he goes forward with the locks, he'll be "actively 'raceing' himself."

Here's what I take that to mean. His hair is going to scream "black," which is going to serve to emphasize his whiteness -- the whiteness that, perhaps, people previously just saw as neutral, or didn't consciously register. Once race is in the front of everyone's consciousness, all sorts of assumptions about his motivations and inclinations -- fair and unfair, reality-based and not, about his hair and his overall worldview -- will follow. Quickly.

Which is, well, a lot like what it's like to be a person of color.

So I think the most supportive thing you can do is to warn him about this burden. As a black woman, you know a little something about it (except that, of course, being seen through the lens of race first isn't a choice for you).