On Monday, a Seattle business owner issued a public apology for her dreadlocks after she was vilified on social media.
Rachel Marshall, founder of Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Seattle, responded on Instagram to critics who viewed her dreadlocks as cultural appropriation.
One critic wrote:
Seattle, we gotta talk. @rachelrgb owns @rgbsoda here in Seattle with multiple locations. She is a white woman with dreadlocks and allegedly gives her product to cops (the people brutalizing her customer base) for free. It has always confused me that we have seen this woman speak at @cherrybombe and cozy up regularly with @lindaderschang(owner of multiple restaurants here in Seattle) and no one has confronted her about how her choice to willfully appropriate Black hairstyling is highly problematic.
We aren’t in a post-racial utopia. And there is no federal law to protect Black people from being penalized for their natural or protective hairstyling. Hell, we are still trying to convince everyone Black Lives Matter. So, until racial equity is achieved in wealth, politics, education and work, white people should not be wearing dreads out of love, solidarity and respect for Black people. At least, this is my current understanding.
Another wrote: “I was trying to find this post for so long after first seeing it! I’m glad I found it again – sounds like a boycott is appropriate.”
Marshall, founder of Rachel’s Ginger Beer in Seattle, wrote:
hello everyone, its rachel: i have come to understand — far too belatedly — that my hairstyle is harmful. It is clear that I have been stubbornly resistant, and I sincerely apologize to those I hurt. I am deeply sorry for the pain I caused to members of the african-american community, who have been and still are discriminated against & mistreated for having dreadlocks, and I’m so sorry that it took so long to admit and address my mistake. I have an appointment to remove my dreadlocks, and more broadly, am committed to earnestly listening to and learn from the voices and lived-experiences different from my own. I never want to cause any harm.
Going forward, I will work in consultation with diversity and equity representatives to ensure my companies’ policies, practices and actions align with our intention to maintain a fair, equitable and enjoyable workplace for everyone. I commit to doing better, as an individual and with my companies, and to being more responsive to feedback in the future. I thank the people who have taken the time to express their concerns and help me learn.
The argument over dreadlocks goes back years, as many people in the black community regard it as an important part of their cultural heritage while other people point out that many ancient cultures, including the Celts and Vikings, wore their hair in dreadlocks.
“Dating as far back as 2500 B.C., The Vedas, Hinduism’s oldest scriptures, depict the Hindu God Shiva wearing locs or ‘jaTaa’ in the Sanskrit language, according to Dr. Bert Ashe’s book, Twisted: My Dreadlocks Chronicles,” Ebony.com noted, adding, “‘Dreadlocks can be traced to just about every civilization in history,’ says Chimere Faulk, an Atlanta-based natural hair stylist and owner of Dr. Locs. ‘No matter the race, you will find a connection to having dreadlocks for spiritual reasons.’”