In these dastardly days of Covid, I have come to rely on the small things that keep me grateful. I
saw Hamilton over the weekend and I couldn’t believe the amazing artistry of this inventive
piece of theater. The music, the choreography and the performances were all magnificent. I
can’t stop thinking about it.
Also, I got a new T-shirt which has put a smile on my face. Mind you, it’s not any old T-shirt. It’s
a black tank top that says “Loc’d.” (pronounced “Locked.”) What does that refer to? My hair, of
course! On the shirt, underneath “Loc’d” reads its definition: committed. Under “Committed”
which is the first definition, it says, “See also: dedicated, patient, unique, natural and
consistent.” I love this shirt!
You must know by now that I am not one for logo tee shirts, political baseball caps, yard signs
or even bumper stickers. I don’t even wear buttons. I worry that they are frivolous venues that
reveal too much about us, leaving us vulnerable and offering others a license for unnecessary
criticism and hatred.
My new Loc’d shirt is an exception to my rule because it encapsulates decades of my own
personal development. It actually gives me strength. After all, it took years to dedicate myself
to seeing and loving who I really am. I do not want to brag, but this shirt says that I have put in
the work to resist all that is “more acceptable.” I have become acceptable to myself. As the
shirt says, I am indeed dedicated, patient, consistent and unique, not just my hair but whom
I’ve grown to be. It took a long time to get here and I am forever grateful.
A long time ago, I became committed to the idea that there is nothing dreadful about Natural
Hair. My hair resists the need to fit into a European aesthetic, which is impossible to achieve,
naturally. I love the shirt because it is about so much more than hair. Locs take a long time to
become. Only those with them know of the hectic “ugly” period, where our forming virgin locs
are unruly, rebellious and too short to do anything with except cover. This is a challenging
period in which we all must divorce our vanity and discover our inner beauty. Employers may
frown, grandmothers may stop speaking, but when one has committed to this, there is no
Now, there are those who do turn back. Impatiently, they jump ship in the first few months of
the “ugly’ phase. Their reasons range from “I can’t go to work,” “I don’t look neat, polished or
pretty enough” and even “my spouse hates it!” It takes patience to look in the mirror and still
know that you are beautiful on the inside. You must see beyond the exterior, because in these
trying times, that’s all you got.
After a year and a half, suddenly my locs took flight, becoming what they were meant to be.
Patience paid off. There is a spiritual component to “Dreadlocks” that has been interpreted and
reinterpreted ever since they appeared in ancient Egypt. Once they appeared again on Bob
Marley, they became a sin in Jamaica and a rebel style in America. For Rastafarians, dreadlocks
were a crucial part of releasing vanity, digging deeper spiritually and being in community.
For all of my young life, I was taught how to look respectable. And it started with a lifetime of
hoping for straight, long hair. My mother and grandmothers believed that natural hair should
be frowned upon. They said it was not considered professional or attractive. They called it
threatening, too ethnic and dirty! For me, refraining from straightening products, cutting off my
chemically induced hair off was just the start of something bigger than me. When I finally got
the courage to loc, I met myself. So, even in a pandemic where the world is spinning furiously
around, shaking up everything I once believed, the shirt arrived and I remembered to be
grateful for something as small as a shirt and something as big as who I am. Still.
What has given you joy in these difficult and aimless days of Covid? Please let me know.
Always grateful for you.