White People with Dreads (Is it Culture Appropriation?)

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white people with dreads

Back in April 2021 Justin Bieber appeared with a statement  ‘white dreads’ look a second time and the controversy on white people with dreads continued to cause a lot of debate.

Pardon the rabbit hole I went down on as I was researching Starter Locs and Microlocs, but this is a very important topic to talk about given what’s going on in the world lately.  

Are dreads cultural appropriation?

Many people acknowledge that the Rastafarians started the ‘dreadlocks movement’ back in 1930 as an African identity. At the same time, it’s important to appreciate that dreadlocks were around as early as 1500 BC.

In fact the origin of dreadlocks is somewhat controversial as there is no documentation of the first ever dreads.

Over the years, dreadlocks have been worn by several people of different ethnicities around the world and this has spurred a lot of deep conversations and controversy. The recent cause of the controversy is arising from white people wearing dreads.

For example, here are some pictures of white people with dreads.

White people with dreads
white people with dreads

While this is greatly appreciated by some people, others feel it is culture appropriation because they argue that dreadlocks are deeply rooted in the black history.

This is a very complicated narrative, and one that should be taken with all seriousness and looked into objectively.

Can white people have dreads?

Dreads have made such a fashionable statement that some white celebrities like Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, Christina Aguilera and Miley Cyrus have been seen rocking them.

Immediately these celebrities were seen wearing the dreadlocks people went crazy will all sort of comments.

While some resorted to taking the looks down, others like Justin Bieber argued that it was just a style and stood by their choice of having them regardless of the contradictory opinions.

Back in 2016, this post attracted both negative comments accusing him of culture appropriation while there was also massive support for him to wear the dreadlocks as a sign of culture appreciation.

In April 2021, he wore the dreadlocks again and this continued to cause some more backlash.

There is also a video that went viral of a white student from San Francisco state university who was confronted by a black woman for having dreadlocks.

The woman argued that it was black culture and it was inappropriate for them to copy the style. The black woman was so infuriated that she almost got physical trying to defend what she believed in.

The white student retaliated by saying that it was his choice and he wore the dreadlocks because he respected the culture and loved it hence his decision.

Here is the video of the white student responding to the confrontation

Double standards?

A lot of people argue that this topic goes both ways since black people also straighten their hair. The question is whether by blacks straightening their hair they are also culture appropriating white people or it is just a matter of assimilation.

In that same argument, does a white person rocking dreadlocks always mean that it is culture appropriation or is that a stereotype?

These are the questions that have raised eye brows over the years for so many people.

What about stereotyping black people with dreadlocks?

Black people having dreadlocks especially celebrities have also attracted very racists comments. Zendaya was a victim of harsh comments after wearing dreadlocks on a red carpet.

She strongly spoke about this and said that it was outright disrespectful to stereotype black people and she said she wanted people to have a positive outlook on dreadlocks.


While everyone has an opinion on this, there is a very thin line between culture appropriation and culture appreciation and it can be very hard to tell the difference.

Most people do not take their time to understand what dreadlocks stand for or the origin, and the history on slavery. This is why you would understand the fury from some black people.

On the other hand, it is also important to note that not every white person who rocks dreadlocks does it because of culture appropriation, some just do it because they love and appreciate the culture

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