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5 Year Dreadiversary! by Londen Wheeler

First of all, round of applause for my mom who took the time to take these photos for me!  She's not a photographer but I tell ya, she gets the job done when you ask her for help!

On February 11, 2012, I started my journey with my dreads and I could not be happier!  After years of hearing "you'll never get a job with that hair, why are you growing dreads, cut that off," I have learned that having dreads has been embraced by many.  My dreads have been great conversation starters for people of all races and sparks long conversations with people who already have dreads.  We'll talk about tips and tricks for when a dread gets too thin, braiding ideas, to what kind of scarf we use when we sleep at night. 

When I started my dreads five years ago (at Mom and Pop Jones' house), they were literally as small as my last knuckle on my pinky.  And I have super small fingers so you know those dreads were small.  Everybody in high school made fun of my little "worms" for a while but I embraced it and prayed that the "ugly phase" would end soon.  Besides, having those little dreads wasn't as bad as when I wore a back brace my entire freshman year, right?  I started my freshman year of college at EMU and my dreads grew a few inches but it still took forever to grow.  By my junior year, my hair had grown so much that I could finally get it into a ponytail.  Now, there has never been a better feeling than finally being able to get the dread that's in the front to finally be long enough to reach the band that holds the ponytail together.  By my senior year, I was able to use some of the dreads in the back to tie a ponytail.  That's when I knew these jokers were getting long!

I want to share with you a poem that I found on the internet a while ago.  It accurately describes why I chose to grow dreads and why they are important to me.  So definitely take a second to read it if you'd like!

Somehow I feel connected to each lock
They remind me of a time before me when black was not just hip hop
They remind me of a movement towards freedom
When we were gaining the momentumm to no longer be oppressed
To me they represent bold, natural blackness

Symbols of non-conformity and to some
a sign of spiritual royalty
From ancient egyptians
to the movement of the rastafari
The lion of Judah remains represented entirely upon the heads of those
who rebel against enslavement
In modern times and during the times of
John the Baptist, King Tut, Solomon and Samson

Connected deeply to the Rastafarian and the struggle of the block
Guerilla warriors swore not to cut the locks
until the release of their authority
Jah-Rastafari or Haile Selassie I
Big ups to the dreads with conscious minds

The intertwined knots remind me of naturally grown crops of herbs
Each lock a spliff of some FIYA YA
to help calm my nerves
Burning the corruption and the lies told about the words written
While filtering out the bullcrap I found truth in transmission
Giving it to you is my soul mission

Locks. Beautiful like the afro
Symbolizing freedom from strong holds
Still black and proud though
I love locks
They remind me of pure blackness”

-Humble B

Also, I want to give a huge shoutout to the beautiful hands who have washed, retwisted, and put some sparkle on my dreads over the years!  Y'all are awesome!