Commentary Jamaica Magazine

Rent A Dread – Brutality, Gender and Race Part 3

Written by Phil Dinham

Rent A Dread – The impact of Dreadlocks on the Global community

A Christian bredda based in the yard name Kymauni comes through with some reasoning on a subject that is often discussed but never presented in the correct context. He talks about the locks craze that is so fashionable among black people here at the beginning of the 21st century.

Designer Dreads those who are clinging to the image of would be Rastas have become a trendy commodity in social life and mainstream culture across the planet. For it is the Rasta man with his mystical exterior and inner glow who have cultivated a black Tarzan image that attracts scores of women to the island of Jamaica every year. Many white, Asian, Hispanic, black and Indian women believe black men are bold, daring, virile and naturally closer to the creator in words, thoughts, and diet.

“I believe Dreadlocks have become the most symbolic influence upon black masculinity in my lifetime”. Says Kymauni

Global Rebels Trade Images
Rugged, aloof, calm and mellow, the collective wild natural energies that accompany dreadlocks always seem to stir up controversy. For while the Rastaman’s philosophy is baptized in a spiritually refreshing stream. Arrogance flanked by heated sensual expressions and selfish ambitions rules the mind of a vain dread on his/her cosmopolitan pilgrimage across the earth. Within this context, the women who travel to Jamaica hoping for border less spiritual redemption and jungle romanticism are being easily deceived. They are being lured away into a wilderness of scams. The fake dread personalities authored by native thugs, hustlers, pimps, chameleons, and socio paths promise a new holistic life but end with untold pain and hardships. Pretentious are these Afro-centric men who thrive only when they impersonate the Rasta man.

In contrast to devout Rastas, Dreads are individuals who rarely know the tenets of the Rasta faith, much less, have the discipline, wisdom, honesty, joyful appearance and loving heart to spiritually inspire other human beings. Wearing dreads for many is a statement affirming an appreciation for their African heritage and identity. For others trendy dreads work as a primary means to shout rebellion against social order and physical limitations. Drawing the eyes of the aroused onlookers naturally dreads feed a mystical sensual energy that arises from their outward appearance.

After discovering that strands of dreads locked cause rebellious movements through space and time ever turning heads against the status –quo, young Kymauni decided to grow natty spikes. This is a common practice among young Jamaican men and women. With a view of circumventing the rules of their schools, church, offices and home. Afro-centric men and women whom have a terrible need to connect with and express their racial pride usually develop an admiration for historic literature, sounds and practices taken from the rights of passage of their cultural origin and connections to the African continent.

Dreads Model on the World Music Stage
Many Jamaican musicians including reggae icon Bob Marley circled the maze of imperial cultural misfits, colonialism, capitalism, fascism, and communism before choosing an African spiritual path in his life. Disparately young Jamaican men and women grab unto native philosophies of Ethiopia- Nubian-Africa before truly awaking to self- enlightenment. The new realities go on to points of black power affirmations and end some months or years later with some completely embracing Rastafari religion as the source of their upliftment. As a matter of the truth governing living order in the now or the future, Rastafari settle many unanswered earthly questions while calming the nerves of the anxious.

Like most religions Rastafari has its symbolical narrow viewpoints, but it’s the passion associated with natural living and combat against over consumption and sophisticated belief in the strength of the black race where much of its collective wisdom and lyrical consciousness find its source. Among most successful people at the bottom edge of the social order, “Grass Roots” men and women naively have sort to protest against the wrongs and perpetual social ills while seeking divine intervention. The dangers of associating the concerns of humanity with race has led to more fanatical afro-centric individuals divorcing themselves from the rest of the world while fomenting their own prejudices, discrimination and limiting defense against total spiritual development. With their abilities to spurn hate, fear, emotional scars and disappointments musicians of the afflicted race, some philosophers or religious zealots of the new age including Rastafari of the 20th century have further clouded the minds of the young leaving them in futility.

Universal cultic addictions exist in music as well as the spoken word. The image, sound, smell, and teachings of Rastafari perform a classic 20th century fallacy on the world stage. The lesson surrounds popular personalities whom have displayed courage while developing a following. The tragedy is that their works and words have been captured as symbolic messianic mantras and while failing to dissect their motives from their overwhelming achievements, many people including the new age vegetarian dietician, anarchists, black pop-cult leadership, and business tyrants worship and gloat that Marley, Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Erica Badhu, Lauren Hill, Jimmy Cliff, Sizzler, Capleton, Luciano, Marcia Griffiths are prophets of God. A Rasta, a player, a bad man this is how entertainers in Jamaica’s Dancehall describe themselves. The blatant contradiction speaks to the security that performers need to be viewed as legitimate ambassadors of Jamaican music.

“Yeah while I agree that some dreads maybe trying to pull a fast one, I also think many are innocently confused about religion and how they are to relate to God. In this free market consumerist environment where we all choose what we want, I guess the heap a young dread bout the place by sporting this hairstyle are saying they feel like rocking the boat, testing the waters and finding out vaguely if Rasta suit them or not. It is a choice of fad experimentation that the society will have to live with, even if that experiment last a lifetime”. Says Kymauni

Spiritual Alienation across Western Civilization
Many of our African brothers and sisters perceive western church assembly as a domination control system which is so stereotypical that church members frequently judge and condemn the present day aloof but often devoted barefoot Nazarene disciple- Rasta on his pilgrim journey. So, immediately the perception among youths is that Rastas are victims of being simple, poor, black men- women who have chosen to uphold the truth of the incarnate Black God Haille Sellassie. Similarly the views of the clergy is received as similar to that of the oppressors/downpressors from the social clubs uptown who dish out membership solely to yutes whom dress, talk, and eat and drink a diet similar to theirs.

Derived from divisive status and class ideology the current global landscape only reward and applaud individuals who are perfectly sold unto their divisive Babylonian system. It is true that the already complex post- modern relativism cults have carved out a niche of wishy- washy converts who are bent on choking Gods natural seed. Unfortunately African siblings are less connected to the message of love and peace; they are less prepared to receive the word of God or his coming judgment because the fight for acceptance and achievement among competing racial class is frustrating the blacks’ spiritual integrity.

The ordinary Kid-bro in Kingston growing up cannot relate to this old religious order or sophistication that is based on an illusionary white or loving black god whom sat and ordained the enslavement of his ancestors. What used to be an upheld doctrine supporting a message of allegiance to a loving God flanked by a spirit of honour devoted to ones neighbour has become confusing. Many religious groups including the left, right and moderate African religions and new age Rastafarian are pursuing personal and selfish ideology. Steadily this has brought youths into a wake of disillusionment bent on mimicking that which is thought to be good and true within themselves move to embrace implied doctrinal rules are ending in futility.

Why should a righteous man be concerned with how I wear my pants, or whether I where denim, tacky slacks, or knee high short pants to the assembly. In this volatile cultural climate the dependence on limiting Victorian traditional values is plainly seen as spinning, splitting and unnecessary hype by most adolescents. It is like the straight Jacket tactic of school systems, or roll call in the militant armed forces, or boot camp for the brazen and out of control minor. Offensive language by a spiritual being is really the last thing a young rude boy on the streets of the inner city wants to confront. Rasta’s like many servants of God can be intolerant and misguided in their relations with non Rasta’s. Most young bloods, Rascals or Nappy styled, honestly believe in a user- friendly God, a God who is cheerful and affable, JAH couldn’t be robotic –mechanical they figure. Surely not the same God who pleasantly created such a wonderfully singing land of so many naturally loving beings.

Jamaican RASTA’s Defeated
Kymauni relates more about the Rastafarianism as a religious movement, and talks more about the advent of its arrival in Jamaica. “Rastafari did not come to Jamaica as a macho sexual image, beauty or fashion craze; it came here out of the need of emancipated slaves choice to seek an African identity while advocating a concern for greater balance in justice and equality linked to loud appeals for racial harmony and an end to divisive language in ever sphere of mans living. The black man was still oppressed in a post- colonial, pre independence run up, as political, economic, and social abuses where being inflicted by a minority white, high brown class on the massive.

The middle class even after Jamaica’s independence in nineteen sixty two (1962) was still uneasy about its blackness, so, Rastafarian as a religion was pretty much the only poor black masses-power movement which called for racial pride and fought the political leaderships ideology of separation of the peoples. While many other religious folks, political parties, modern cultural activists had a difficult time understanding Rastafari. By perverting its substance and message to the world many hypocrites and opportunists have sought to rewrite the doctrines of the so, called religion.

Voluntary simplicity and the refusal of Rasta’s to work within Babylonian establishments in the new millennium is almost unheard of. Rasta’s used to claim that they were not Jamaicans, but they were sojourning on Jamaican soil willing to live in poverty until they can return to a famine stricken Ethiopia. Even today while many can make the trip back to Africa, they have chosen not to do so. The more educated and status driven Rastas have used and abused the flock, disassociating themselves from the unified national mission in Jamaica. The Rasta’s have caused much disharmony, insult and anger among many. Dub poet Muttabaruka speaking at the 2003 Rasta Reasoning conference at Kingston’s University of the West Indies Mona campus was quick to point out that it is the nuances of the Rasta musicians which is killing the faith.

Planting hate and plaguing many youths with a habit of addiction to their holy herb easily becomes another huge concern among citizens on the island. Unwittingly Rastas have lent more than a hand to the wanton upsurge of dreads by design across Jamaica. Many cannot tell the difference anymore between a dreddy hoping to swindle a female tourist visiting the island from a real Ragga-muffin Rasta with loyalties to a merciful JAH.

High Crimes as Holy Sanctification
For Rasta’s, the use of Marijuana as a sacrament and as a holistic ritual in the dancehall has further blurred the lines between a need to live in raw nature prostrating before God and the willingness of a wretched social deviant to subvert law and order while nurturing his/her addictive habit. Rastas especially in foreign lands have more access and connection to criminal bandits of the drug trade and many dreadlocks have used their newly found natty cover to rationalize the fact that they are not criminal minded. The Illegal use of “ganja” conflicts with not only criminal law, human health also suffers from consistent overkill of the herbs but Rasta’s say that its all Babylonian smoke screen to censor their faith.

What about the destabilizing effect vain social images have on families?? Parents and entire families do scream out of control with resentment for the lifestyle Rastafarians live. The thought of their boy and girl- child facing drug addiction, jail-house, and becoming a worthless bum who doesn’t want to become anything in life, just floating around like a nomad is a frightening reality. Still that was the early nineteen forties (1940’s) perception associated with the identity of Rasta’s. Today Rasta’s rebel at rallies within the dancehall building media offensives against all who dislike their faith and belief system. Rastas in the dancehall greet and persuade minds and hearts to accept their messianic chants as the spiritual legitimate voice of these times. The Dreads by disguise, thug-playboys on Jamaican beaches feed off the impressionable revelations while stampeding the core of Rasta religion. There is much inconsistency in how each Rasta live, thus, the infidels or rascals who impersonate the brothers and sisters of faith are getting away with a self proclaimed life of dishonesty.

Kymauni concedes “the dreads by design who have sought to identify with the hairstyles of the conscious Rasta movement pretty much have hijacked the image, and now a new obsession with locks, plaits, cane- corn- rows, ital veggie food, reggae colors, sandals, and puffing spliff has been styled a global image for all race, tribe, or upwardly mobile disparate to join the conscious black party”.

The fact that black people are finding dignity in their blackness is good, but global citizens have to be careful about adopting image as a way of life simply because of its popularity. What is more important developing characters based on teachings of Great God or surrendering our innermost thoughts to the wilds and fancy of an image drowned in passion for spliffs and rebellious music. Not because a man is a multi award Grammy singer or a rich N-yah man who has a lot of cheese to feed all the rats in the community should he be exalted. Money, nor luxury cars, nor words of insult and false prophecies will set us free from mental slavery.

A Jah Send me, Jehsus Christus Forever…thy Kingdom come they will be done for we forward thru dis yah generation triumphantly- JAH forever….blessed love.

About the author

Phil Dinham