An Open Letter to White People With Dreadlocks

To Whom it May Concern (WHITE PEOPLE WITH DREADS),

Let me begin by explaining that I am not saying this to be a mean ol’ black hair elitist, I’m saying it to be nice. Think of it as a well-meaning PSA-from someone who really, really cares. Maybe everyone else is too polite to say it, but dreadlocks are not the look for you. I know you thought they would be a great idea after meditating with your giant Bob Marley flag you’ve tacked to your dorm room wall, but they’re not. Dreadlocks are a hairstyle invented by people with coarse, nappy hair (and while we’re on the subject, please don’t EVER use the word “nappy” to describe your hair – it’s an adjective that does not apply. “Curly” or “coarse”, maybe. “Nappy?” Never.) for people with coarse, nappy hair.

Listen – dreads exist because black hair dreads naturally, and because we can usually pull it off (I don’t know if it’s our so-called “strong features” or just natural smoothness, but it works for us). We don’t have to grease our locks up and keep them in rubber-banded clumps for weeks on end without washing to get our hair to dread, okay? All it takes are a couple of days without running a wide-toothed comb through it. Furthermore, the reason you don’t usually see black folks running around with dirty, greasy, smelly dreads sticking up every which way is because we understand that even the most low-maintenance of hairstyles requires minimum upkeep. That means SHAMPOO, people. Get a toothbrush, put some conditioning soap on it, and get to work. And for the record – Axe hairspray does NOT count. Furthermore, if you don’t heed my advice and do decide to get dreads, know this – you don’t get “dreadlocks” from simply refusing to wash or comb your hair. If you do that, you’re either going to end up looking like PigPen from the Peanuts cartoon strip, or you’ll soon be sporting the unenviable “beaver tail” a.k.a when your hair just grows into one matted, stinky eyesore on the back of your head.

Honestly, it’s kind of insulting to see all these wannabe Rastafarians or whatever you’re calling yourselves these days running around. Every time I see one of you out on the streets I cringe and wonder how painful it must be for your parents to have to claim you as their own when you come home to visit from college. You have what looks like a frizzy piece of dog shit hanging down past your butt and some Rasta bracelets, but I recognize that shirt as Marc by Marc 2005, so who are we kidding here? Okay, you like reggae music and refer to yourself as a “free spirit” on your “About Me” section on Facebook – I’m willing to let it slide. Honestly, I’ll say whatever I have to say to get you to do us all a favor and spend some of that money on a real haircut and stop making yourself look like a total tool.

Look, I know you’re sad, but believe me, I understand hair envy. Why do you think black people spend literally billions of dollars every year in the hair industry? I know you see us walking around with afros, dreads, braids, and cornrows and get jealous that your hair can’t do that, but all I ask is for you to just let us have this one. Feel free to go to Mexico for spring break and get your hair braided and beaded so you can feel like an African princess while you down Adios Motherfuckers and win a wet T-shirt contest, I don’t care. Just STAY AWAY FROM THE DREADLOCKS. Please trust me when I say that you will look unfailingly ridiculous, and that I can’t promise not to surreptitiously cut them off next time you’re sitting in front of me on the bus.


A Friend Who Cares

image – Valerio Pirrera


More From Thought Catalog



    • monty

      this is not a reply to u Ben, I just had to clicks reply to be able to comment lol.

      Dude ur a effing idiot for writing this article. Ok we all have r own opinions but to write an article about it?what is the big deal about a white person having dreads? They are not hurting u or interfering with ur life by doing so so stfu. I’ve considered dreads many times & im a white female, im not Rastafarian nor do I like reggae, I like the style of dreads. But its MY CHOICE. Black people already have so much of their own stuff, because u think the world owes u something for ur ancestors past. U have rap/hip hop ( god forbid a white rapper become famous), u have black churches, u have BET, u use the ‘n’ word constantly but if any other race uses it u act as though the world just ended (hypocrites). so stfu when u say “let us have this one”. U wana be respected but u make yourselves look so stupid. just to be clear im not racist, but I can’t stand it when black people try to act like the world is trying to bring them down. Its 2012, that crap is over.

      • monty

        Btw, how many black people have straight hair? But u don’t see any white people writing an style about it. Boohoo

      • Noa

        *cough* Eminem *cough*

        Seriously though, I don’t get the big deal on why people hate on Caucasians who want dreadlocks. I’ve thought about them quite often and the only thing that stops me is the current length and the fact that I don’t think I could pull them off much less have the patience for them. Maybe one day I’ll get the courage. To each their own, and it’s not like that particular hairstyle is physically harming people so, the dude needs to get over it.

      • Chad Santana Boss

        I agree with u monty. I am not white but i have dreadlocks and there are white people who have dreadlocks that look better than alot of white people.. This article proves how small minded you are. And btw there are more black people with straight hair than white people with dreadlocks but if a white person writes an article saying it looks stupid .. people would go madd

      • oddentit?

        i agree with Monty. I hate it when people use the race card, infact did you know that in certain airports they are now deliberately increasing the percentage of white people in ‘random’ checks to prevent being caused racist? And what do you think white people would be called if they had whites only churces or organisations? the only on i know of is the kkk, yet Monty has listed a couple of her head. odd, isn’t it.

    • sally

      dreadlocks are dreadlocks,deal with it.anyone can wear it to become long as u take a bath everyday and dont let ur mouth smells like a toilet theres nothing wrong about it wether ur black or white,brown or pale.

    • JBMccoy

      Same as Monty, not a comment towards you, its for the original post. So in a nutshell what this “black hairstylest is saying, is that white people should leave dreads for the blacks? Does that mean blacks with nappy hair shouldn’t straighten it because that’s white peoples original hairstyle? Get off your high horse you Nignorant bitch. Maybe you should stick to being a jobless, loud, 6 kids by 5 dads, fat roll hanging out and killing your own people being whore. Afterall, those are all the characteristic’s of “your people” Do the world a favor and kill yourself. Prejudice bitch. Two can play this game.

    • Beverly's Journey

      It amazes me that we live in a world that we want what someone else has. If we have straight hair we desire curly hair. If we have curly hair we desire straight hair. If we have African hair we want flowing white people hair. There is more money spent in the hair industry to find something DIFFERENT from what We were born with.
      However, coming from the Caribbean, I respect the Rastafarians for their use of natural products and the wearing of dreads to be identified in their religious and cultural beliefs. Wearing dreads strictly for fashion as opposed to its’ true origin is creating an really bad stigma for these cultural people. So…wearing dreads does not make you a Rastafarian…as wearing a weave not make you white. As white people are curious to find a hair fashion that is not always blowing in the people are looking for the opposite…hair the flows freely and styles as beautifully.
      We will forever be a nation of curiosity of other peoples and other cultures for the duration of our time on this planet….

    • Aleksa

      @the original poster: Are you aware how much of a hypocrite you’re making yourself out to be? So, caucasians “aren’t supposed” to have dreadlocks because they’re all “stinky” and “stringy pieces of dog shit”? Clearly the dreadlocks you have seen are fucking disgusting. I’ve had dreadlocks for two years and I’ve never touched wax or any sort of grease. Funny thing is, I also shower regularly and wash my dreadlocks once a week and deep clean them twice a month. I’m not sure where you’re getting any of your information from but you’re clearly misinformed and biased. If you have undreaded hair for most of your life and try to dread it, it takes some sort of effort no matter what your ethnicity is, so where you’re saying your hair dreads “naturally” is an overstatement. Have fun being a racist!

    • Lois

      Before you spout off your racism, and yes, it is racist even though you try to cloak it as something else. Let me enlighten you.

      Druids, who were the shamans and mystics of the Celts, had dreadlocks which held divine significance in their roles as holy people. Some Celtic warriors sported dreadlocks as an intimidation tactic. Additionally, Viking warriors wore their hair in locks. Even Shakespeare referenced elf or fairy locks in his work. In fact, Irish folk lore believed that at night, little elves or fairies tied knots in people’s hair and it was very bad luck to comb the knots out.
      So…..Perhaps you are the envious one?

      An old Irish proverb says… “May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far”

    • tit

      This isnt about black people vs. white people. any black or white person can do whatever they want. talking about “let us have this and we’ll let you have that” makes you sound like a bigot. I thought we were done with separate but equal and had moved on to all being people. You don’t speak for all black people, and you cant make rules about what races are allowed to do what.

    • Julia

      Amen. Amen. Amen.

    • Mela

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • mimi

      this isn’t a reply it’s just what i have to say about this article, tis is complete bull. african americans DO NOT own the dreadlocked hairstyle. It goes back to every ethnicity in the book! do you think god invinted the comb when he made the first human?! NO! get over yourself ok. it’s everyones culture!

  • Michael Koh

    “…do us all a favor and spend some of that money on a real haircut and stop making yourself look like a total tool.”

    This made my day.

  • Rico


  • Stephanie Georgopulos

    damn. me in 2007. i'm sorry.

    but tessa is right. you know what happened when i got dreads? it took 12 hours, i missed my friend's birthday party and he bitched me out all night, and my skin broke out cuz my hair was greasy as hell. this is the most high maintenance hairstyle for “white people” hair ever. EVER. just don't do it.

    • Jenny Bean

      you have to wash it still.. it is going to get greasy if you don’t…
      After they mature, they are the most simple hair style ever.

  • rawiya kameir


    • Mr Nobody

      ahhhhh… Arealemail has his own little pet. his own little yes man

  • Brian McElmurry


  • Kyle Angeletti

    as much as i agree with you, ” just let us have this one” viewpoints taken from any cultural perspective are inherently boring and presumptuous.

    live and let live, bro.

    • Chantz Erolin

      “viewpoints taken from any cultural perspective.” Fun little ideological erasure there, take a look at your illusion of white objectivity and quit discounting anything that comes from a brown person who acknowledges their markedness.

      • Arealemail

        black people look dumb when they wear glasses

      • Mr Nobody

        you look dumb when you blog

      • PhyllApathy

        If you’re going to comment on something, will you at least contribute something other than “you’re dumb” or something along those lines? You’re making yourself look like a 5 year old.

      • Blank

        Let me guess…??? You must be white…??? lol

      • Kat

        this.  thank you, thank you THANK YOU.  Erasure is not the answer!

    • unkyoka

      Dumb ass comments like this make me remember just how stupid and entitled my fellow melanin deficient posse warriors can be. drown yourself in bong water brahhhhhhh

  • mertzy

    Until they come back from Mexico holding up the line at the taco truck because they insist on ordering in Spanish and AY DIOS MIOing over how the horrrchataaa here is sooo good.

  • Hmm..

    coming from a black dreaded person, yes, its ridiculous what some white people do to get dreads, all of which are unhealthy and counterproductive (wax, not washing, etc) but there are a handful that don't do these things and have relatively healthy dreads. but i totally get you on this because of lot of times they look kinda nasty.

    also, dreadlocks do not belong to one specific culture, http://islamicallylocked.blogs
    it has belonged to many over time.

    and the hairstyle isn't necessarily “invented” it just naturally occurs, i mean, not unless us humans “invented” sex also…

    and i'm not a rastafarian, but i'm offended at whites being rastafari, they're allowed to, technically, but most probably aren't doing it right. rastafari is a very afrocentric religion and not an excuse to smoke weed, wear dreads, party, and then just disregard the problems of people of color because “oh rasta is all about the 'spiritual' journey” that's craziness.

    like, goodness, just wear dreadlocks, smoke weed, be a hippy and party, but don't claim to be a true rasta.

    • for the uneducated people

      to be a rasta is not a religion its a movement, as for saying you find it offensive that a white person might follow this movement.. that is one of the most uneducated things i’ve heard in a while…. are there not black people who might claim to be rastafari when they aren’t truly? as well as other races? are there not black people with dreads that look nasty? cus believe me i’ve seen it, or maybe i should say how offended i am that black people would have the audacity to relax their hair and wear it straight… but of course i wouldn’t because i take people as they come, whether it be their style, colour of their skin or whatever else.


    What is more interesting to me is the position I found myself at age 19: considering dreadlocks for reasons COMPLETELY REMOVED from all the cliches you mention above. I wasn't into Rastafarianism, Bob Marley, or any of that shit. I honestly cannot remember why I so strongly considered them but I'm glad it never happened. Hopefully this article will prevent others from making a similar mistake.

  • Jae

    What about black people who straighten their hair? If you call all white people with dreads wannabe rastas, then are what are all black people who straighten their hair?

    • burgy

      what do you call white people who straighten their hair?

      • Gjoibi

        i dont know what you call them, but i know they're not shaming their ethnicity to look like another's

      • extremeith

        attention niggers: there is no comparison between a white person straightening their hair and a nappy headed ho straightening its hair

      • Leah G

        How is there no comparison? Both are trying to achieve straight hair without naturally having it. Oh and does using “n***ers” make you feel tough? Really easy to grow some balls on the internet.

      • Mr Nobody

        LOL, you're a FAG

      • Panther

        I’m glad my father educated us about stupid “MOTHER FUCKERS” like you…
        The white man went to steal from Africa, because Europe was good for nothing…. Had no goods, and the people were too weak to be any good to themselves… SHAME…!!!
        And why are you guys, just always so fucking clueless…????????? LOL

    • Anonymous


  • Jadofi

    If you're gonna tell people how to live their lives, at least do it with a more interesting writing style.

    • joshua covey

      I would love a link to your well written blog.

  • James

    “I know you see us walking around with afros, dreads, braids, and cornrows and get jealous that your hair can’t do that, but all I ask is for you to just let us have this one.”

    This is absurd, dreadlocks are a hairstyle, and of course any person who doesn't take good care of their hair looks like “pig pen”. That, however, is no reason to attack those who make dreads work for them and take good care of them. It is presumptuous to think that the reason people who are not black get dreads it due to a wannabe-esque fascination with the various sub-cultures associated with the hairstyle.

    Maybe this is a bit aggressive, but I get upset when so many assumptions are made about others' intentions. This is overstepping into inhibition of freedom of expression. I find it moderately offensive, but that being said, very few white people can pull of dreads. Those who can though, by all means!

    • G-rac Ushdugery

      Yeah this article was a little bit ridiculous. I've had dreads in my life at one point but it wasn't because I wanted to be “rasta” (I don't see why I would want to co-opt a homophobic religion ie; any religion) it was because I was lazy and if my hair gets to a certain point if I don't brush it a stupid amount it turns into dreadlocks.

  • Derpina

    I know you see us walking around with blond hair or highlights and get jealous that your hair can’t do that, but all I ask is for you to just let us have this one. GTFO

    • Joshua

      I don't understand, are you implying that the author dyes her hair blond?

  • T6

    I could look past your poorly-disguised RACISM if you actually had the skill to write cleverly or even interestingly about such a pointless subject. You're not near as funny or “nice” as you apparently think you are.

    I wish I could un-read this waste.

  • obsessions

    i'm half white, half hispanic, and my hair forms dreadlocks on its own, so please don't assume i spent tons of money to get it to do that; people that aren't black can have similar hair too, shocker, isn't it?

  • brittany wallace

    my boss is a large white man with dreads

    • Chantz Erolin


    • Naked&Famous

      Do you work at a…? Wait seriously, where the fuck do you work?

  • Mel C,

    LOL this comment section is ridiculous. While, yes, I think the OP should have gone with the actual religious and cultural reason dreads look ridiculous on white people, this is not REVERSE RACISM Ok? Because black people being racist in America does not exist. The word you're looking for a prejudice. Anyway, whatever, it just looks stupid.

    • wisk77

      you're sadly deluded.

    • Naked&Famous

      Yup, I'm with the author. All prejudice aside, dreads just look fucking stupid on white people.

    • Ultracoon

      “Black people being racist in America doesn’t exist”

      That is the stupidest thing I’ve read other than the sheboon’s article up top.  Go educate yourself, you damn dirty ape!

    • Kat


      All racism = racial prejudice.

      Not all racial prejudice = racism.

      Racism by its actual sociological definition is often perpetrated UNCONSCIOUSLY and WITH PERFECTLY GOOD INTENTIONS by a dominant majority living in a system in which oppression is systemic and ingrained.  No, it’s not you who had slaves, and it’s not you who went around enforcing Jim Crow, but as long as you are part of the majority and you lead a “normal” life in the dominant culture, you will inevitably do racist things.   The ability to do it without realizing it and then deny its racist side comes from privilege.  
      If anyone’s actually read this far, it’s also good to google ‘color blind racism’ and ‘symbolic racism’ to better understand what’s actually going on.  No one is saying that you’re going around actively thinking all Black people are inferior, but that’s not what it actually takes to be racist.

      • the 555hit

        So if I read you right Kat you’re saying that a caucasian growing locks is the updated version of the 0l’ kumbaya hummin’ creepin’ jesus crowd sitting around African campfires aping some preconceived idea of the culture they want to get into bed with— succeeding in their condescension only in patronising the fk out of them and insulting everyones’ intelligence? And that judgemental behaviours awarded bottom-up to dominant culture from subjugated culture can not in fact be defined as racism?

  • xmkdz

    who is this “us” you include yourself in, mrs SCHOENROCK?

    • jen f

      ms. schoenrock to you!

      • Ih8ngrluvrs

        black people with Northern European surnames, it looks stupid and fake. Even worse than dreads.

  • Wwbeach


  • Christina

    “Furthermore, the reason you don’t usually see black folks running around with dirty, greasy, smelly dreads sticking up every which way is because we understand that even the most low-maintenance of hairstyles requires minimum upkeep.”

    Black Peoples hair smells ALL THE TIME!! So how about you dont diss on white people and you tell your fellow blacks that they need to put some shampoo to their UNDREADED hair!! White people can put dreads in their hair if they want to!!!!! And also, I'm SO GLAD that I don't have nappy hair because that would honestly make me hate my life if I didnt have beautiful long hair that I can run my fingers through and can blow in the wind!!!!

    ALSO, “I know you see us walking around with afros, dreads, braids, and cornrows and get jealous that your hair can’t do that, but all I ask is for you to just let us have this one.”– There is NOT ONE WHITE PERSON ON THIS PLANET that is jealous of your nasty ass nappy disgusting hair!!! You are the ones who go around getting your hair damn relaxed, straightening and all that jazz to try to have “normal” white people hair! And I know plenty of black girls who get weaves that are textured like white people hair because they know that they are JEALOUS of white people hair! Who the fuck would want to walk around with their hair braided all the time when you are a grown woman or man!!?? NO WHITE PERSON!! AND NO ONE WANTS A FUCKING AFRO!!!

    K, Thanks!

    • eric


    • Wwbeach

      Hai when is the next KKK meeting?

    • Imnotbeingironic

      i know right? typical nigger writing on the internet. you would think she would've felt the hypocrisy and self-shame of all the straighteners in her “community” left this topic off-bounds for her. Chris Rock dedicated a whole movie to the self-shame niggers have for their nasty, nappy hair

      • Whyyyyyyyy

        you're dumb.

      • Mr Nobody

        hey mr. imnot…., why don't you say that to the face of these so called “n!ggers”… i love how racist bigots hide behind, letters, radios, and the rest of the media… then when sum1 retaliates, oh no! THEY feel threatened!

    • Junk


    • lulu

      I think you're just a dumb bitch who doesn't know what she's talking about. I'm black and 1) my hair never smells and 2) ALL of my white friends touch my hair and tell me how they with they had the same hair as me.

      Unlike you, my hair doesn't make it's own grease so it doesn't smell, stick to my face or look like shit everyday! I feel sorry for you bitch.

      And another thing, black people don't get their hair relaxed to “look white” it's because straight hair looks better on some of us than curly does. Luckily for me, my hair can work with any style I choose, I bet you're stuck with one style for the rest of your life.

      Don't be jealous

  • lol

    someone should write An Open Letter To Black People With Opinions

    • Whyyyyyyyy

      you're dumb.

  • Meg

    From what I've seen, I think dreads ALWAYS look good on African Americans, and SOMETIMES look good on Caucasians.

    That being said, this article was really racially and ethnically insensitive to a number of cultures and creeds–but a large amount of the comments are much, much worse.

  • Awhiteperson

    White people love shouting “reverse racism” at anything. Stop pretending you're offended, it's just a fucking article on Thought Catalog. Plus, the author is right, dreads look stupid as hell on people without the right hair texture.

    • Dominus

      Yea, niggers play the race card more than anyone. 

  • alex

    This is actually really stupid. I'm sick of everybody complaining that dreadlocks are reserved for religion. Rastafarianism. That's total bull shit. Tattoos started out that way too, tribal. Does anybody give a fuck when the average person gets a tattoo? No. Because they're just tattoos. Just like dreadlocks are just dreadlocks. And no, white people don't have to not wash their hair for weeks and become a dirty mess just to have dreadlocks. Back-coming and no conditioner does exactly the same thing. And even african-textured hair should wax and maintain dreads. Duh. Idiots.

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