One question I get asked a lot by randoms is “how long have you been growing your hair (dreads, locs, etc)?”
Today I noticed that down near the end of one of my locs there is a rubber band, stuck there, twisted and gnarled. I’ve cut my hair several times since I started growing the locs, I’ve lost count how many times. I’d have knee length hair by now, I think, so I suppose I have failed at the Nazarite Vow. But that rubber band must have been there for at least three years, likely longer, stuck, acting now as only a ring inside a tree, long ago having its purpose usurped by the natural process of dreading.
Just a few minutes ago, and older dude stopped me in the bathroom and asked how did I sleep with my hair, which opened the floor for comments I suppose, as another professor whom I’ve seen regularly got the bozacks to ask a question or two. The first man shook my hand and told me I am an “Afrocentric brother.” Sigh.
Even at an HBCU my hair makes me stand out a bit, and the Chiaroscuro created by the locs and a jacket and tie probably strike many as odd, off putting or even dangerously counter culture. It’s really none of these, my hair. The statement is, I like locs, I like my hair long, and I don’t fancy a perm. Besides, anyone who watches TV knows, all the cool Black guys have shaven heads.
*Real Rastafarians believe locs to be part of the Nazarite Vow (see also Samson, John the Baptist)
The relevant part of the vow:
Second, the Nazarite could not cut his hair during the time of separation. If his vow was for a long time, his hair would grow long. But in the Bible, long hair on a man indicates shame (1 Corinthians 11:14). Someone who willingly takes upon himself that which causes shame has conquered his pride. The disciple must be willing to take upon himself that which causes the world to scorn and laugh at him.
These days, long hair on men doesn’t invite scorn or shame as much as funny looks or assumptions and admonitions from career counselors. Locs tend to invite a little more scorn, and are seen as a sign of “rebellion.”
It’s said that John the Baptist’s Nazarite Vow was in protest of the decadence of society. I feel that, sure. So maybe I’ll keep my locs for some time to come.