Dreadlocks

I’ve been asked several times about dreadlocks. Different question each time, but somehow people think I am a “go to person” on the topic. I’m not. But being that I sport dreadlocks, I probably know a little more than your average ‘baldhead’.

First lesson: those of the Rastafarian faith call everyone else ‘baldhead’. The explanation I got in my youth is that ‘badlhead’ simply means someone who does not subscribe to the Rastafarian way of life and spirituality. Benign, yes? In some quarters, it isn’t benign, it’s an insult. According to Urban Dictionary:

In Rastafarianism, a baldhead refers to anyone who conforms to common Western standards of hair styling. This is because the short, clean-cut look is often representative (in their eyes) of someone who has adopted a colonial, materialistic and spiritually-bankrupt worldview.

In contrast, a person who grows their hair out, such as into an afro or dreadlocks, is representative (in their eyes) of someone who has let go of obsession with external, physical appearances and turned their attention inward, into the spiritual realm.

The first time someone questioned me about dreadlocks was actually back in Jamaica when I first started my own journey. (Side note: it’s not just a hairstyle, it is a journey). In New Kingston, right at the intersection of Dominica Drive and Knutsford Boulevard, there used to be a local goods store out of a trailer. I don’t know if he still sells there or not. I haven’t been back to that spot in more than a decade. Lot of Rastafarian themed stuff, including incense and woven bags and wooden sculptures. One morning, I was walking along minding my own business and I hear:

”Dawta! Why such a pretty gyal ah follow Babylon tings?”

I was confused and asked him what he meant. (Side note: for Rastafarians, “Babylon” represents the oppressive Western state). Basically, he saw my baby dreadlocks and assumed I was just “following fashion”. I wasn’t. At the time, my journey was young. Very young, but it was NOT just a hairstyle for me. It never has been. I explained to him that for a long long time, I had chemically straightened my hair. It was what everybody did. After a while, I started to feel … “odd” about it. I could not put my hand on it precisely, but the discomfort was there and growing. When I was told that my chemically straightened hair was literally rotting off my head, I made the decision to go natural. (How odd is it that when black women cease to process their hair, it is known as “going natural”).

Because I worked in the corporate world, that connection with the so-called “oppressive Western-style state” required me to maintain a certain level of “Western decorum” – which meant my dreadlocks had to attempt to look neat. It felt like a contradiction then, but I had no other choice really. Not if I wanted to maintain my independence. And so, my dreadlocks were “cultivated” and “groomed”. It was a compromise.

For Rastafarians, embracing all that Rastafarianism embodies includes abandoning all aspects of Western ideals. No more Western style dress, no more Western style hair, no more Western style norms. Part of the criticism of Rastafarianism is the misogyny that is wrapped up in the movement – their women don’t work, as a rule, and are limited in the kind of exposure outside the home they are allowed.

So this Rasta and I chatted for a few minutes about how I had ended up where I was. It was a journey in discovering who I was, is what my explanation summed up to be. I was 16 when I began to question everything about the world I was born in. Dreadlocks was a natural and logical stop along that journey. I thought about just going afro. In fact, I did it once. Cut off all my hair but it didn’t feel right. Dreadlocks felt right.

At various other times in my life, I’ve been asked other questions about it. Is it ok for white people to wear dreadlocks. How do I do my own dreadlocks. Where does one go to get their dreadlocks done. And often my answers include the admonition that it is not just a hairstyle and that for anyone – including white people – that decision MUST include some amount of self-education about Rastafarianism, the history of black people, and the stigma attached to black hair.

I don’t personally have a problem with white dreadlocks. To each his own. But I am acutely aware of all the nuance surrounding it and I do my best to educate those who are open to it about how problematic it can be. At least one person I have spoken to about it seemed to have changed their mind about doing it. And if I can make one person think deeper about dreadlocks than “just a hairstyle”, then I feel I have done my duty.

As for my journey … I am still on it. Who I am is buried deep under all kinds of layers of history and nuance and complexity. But I can tell you that because I chose this route, I know more about myself today than I did 15 years ago and what I know now is empowering.

Flat Earthers et al

Stumbled onto this story on Facebook:

Speakers recently flew in from around (or perhaps, across?) the earth for a three-day event held in Birmingham: the UK?s first ever public Flat Earth Convention. It was well attended, and wasn?t just three days of speeches and YouTube clips (though, granted, there was a lot of this). There was also a lot of team-building, networking, debating, workshops ? and scientific experiments. Yes, flat earthers do seem to place a lot of emphasis and priority ?

Not sure who originally shared it, so if I missed giving credit … my apologies.

I started reading it and one thought occurred to me … anti-vaccers, flat-earthers, homeopathic followers, non-GMO crowds, and the “organic” people … are these groups representative of the natural consequence of walling academia up for elites only to access? Isn’t it sort of human nature to eventually buck at the powerful dictates? I know I get frustrated when I ask a question and get a rote response and irritation if pressed. I asked a question about a strategy in a game Scott and I play, “Why do we not send this type of troop on our battles?” The response was basically, “Because I say so”. When I expand my question to explain that I have to know the why of these things, especially when evidence demonstrates it to be a bad policy, I get silence.

Children should be seen and not heard … I guess.

I am the equivalent of a child because I am brand new and young.

But I decided after a while that I was not going to listen to that command. It made no sense to me and I was losing as a result of following the rule. I made up my own rules. I didn’t like what the leaders were saying and they refused to explain their stance.

I wonder if this isn’t what we are seeing with the resurgence of these skeptic groups – a wholesale rejection of what those in power dictate to the masses.

There is only so long you can tell people what to do without them rebelling against a meaningless (on the surface) directive.

Then again … this is exactly what that article is saying … only in more academic terms. Oh the irony!

I still have it

I spent almost 18 hours trying to figure out how to connect the WordPress iOS app to this new WordPress installation. I couldn’t sleep last night, so I got my laptop and installed WordPress, copied over the last hugo post to it, and set the installation live. If you’ve visited the site in the last 24 hours, you might have noticed the change.

The whole point was so that I could publish posts remotely using remote services and apps. The WordPress iOS app for one. It wouldn’t connect. It kept giving me an obscure error. I tried everything I could find to get it sorted. Nada.

Well, everything except googling the error itself. Eventually, after scouring the internet for ideas, I stumbled on the troubleshooting guide for Jetpack that mentioned a service called “Varnish”. I’d never heard of it. My server isn’t running it. So I googled for the error minus “varnish” (i.e. http://lmgtfy.com/?q=nginx+xml-rpc-32700+-varnish) and discovered this link: https://serverfault.com/questions/824336/wordpress-nginx-php-fpm-xml-rpc-not-working and there it was:

“It seems like the extensions php-xml and php-xmlrpc are not installed.”

Soon as I installed both, everything worked like a charm.
It took me almost a whole 24 hours to figure it out, but I eventually did. I haven’t completely lost my tech skills. They’ve slowed but they haven’t completely disappeared.

pats self on back

And now my remote publishing works now too. As is evidenced by this post which is coming from Ulysses. I have no idea what the post will look like published, so … here goes nothing.

I owe you an explanation

In January, I posted saying I had moved to Hugo and I was happy. That wasn’t a lie. I was happy. But then I wanted to post something to my blog while I was out, away from home and realised that I couldn’t. Hugo requires some kind of *nix OS to run and an ftp application to send the files to the server. That’s neat; it’s fast and small; but it is inconvenient if you’re on the move.

And so here I am … back on WordPress. Because it’s what I know and nothing else is as lean as WordPress. All the other popular blogging software tries to do it all and it shows.

Time will tell if this architecture will support a WordPress installation. I may have to tweak the server a bit, but for now … this is where I am at.

Hopefully it also means I will be posting more frequently. But I’ve promised that before, haven’t I? Yeah. I know. Stay tuned.

Happy New year (edited)

Hey y’all.

It’s 2018. In fact, it’s so much 2018 that it’s almost February 2018. I’ve not blogged for a while now. Well … that’s not quite true. I have blogged. I just haven’t shared it. I find I am in a place where I don’t know anymore whether what I am about to write is offensive and whether it’ll cause me friends or … something else. And here’s the thing … it’s not so much that I am suddenly afraid of losing friends. I’ve never been the kind to hold onto a relationship if it’s obviously trying to dissipate. I mean … I try to hold onto it. I do what I think I can to mend the breach if there is a breach. But I don’t bend over backwards and I don’t prostitute myself. No … I think what’s happening is that I am so very very angry about the sudden predicament that I find myself in that all I can write is vitriol that most people would fine quite off-putting. Even my friends.

So … I keep silent. And I beat myself up daily because … there are other things to talk about, aren’t there? There are. Maybe it’s school (for those who may have forgotten or did not know, I am currently in a masters program at USC, maybe it’s the social isolation I am experiencing … maybe it’s the depression and anxiety … whatever it is, I just don’t feel the urge to write about stuff right now.

So while I study how to diagnoses the Schizotypical (Personality) Disorder and how to evaluate mental health research and see clients … I am quiet. I’ll likely be quiet for a few more months. But I have not been idle. As I said, I am in school, but I’ve also been playing around on the web host in the background quite a bit. You guys wouldn’t notice, but this website is actually now hosted on a completely different configuration than it was last week. I’ve been getting memory usage warnings from DigitalOcean for a few weeks. On investigation, it seemed the php processes were running away. Since I couldn’t pin down exactly what the problem was, and I had long wanted to do it anyway, I moved from Ubuntu to Debian. It’s a leaner install in so many ways. And far more enjoyable to work with.

So … until things change, enjoy what’s here. I know it’s not a lot and that all the historical posts are gone. Sorry about that. A few things necessitated this shift from WordPress to a flat file blogging style. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back to WordPress. For the time being, I am happy with Hugo. I’ve moved back to WordPress. More on that in the coming days. And maybe even a return of some of my historical posts. We’ll see.

All that said … y’all have a wonderful year now, hear? Catch you laters!