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No. 40: Existential dreads

Existential dreads

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Strip by: Ian Boreham

{A Jamaican man with dreadlocks gazes past a box of a product called "Reggaine". The packaging looks suspiciously like that of Rogaine or Regaine.}

caption: Regrow Dreads in 4 Months!

package text: Mon's Reggaine. Clinically proven to help regrow dreads. Revitalises musical tastes. Tropical Solution. Irie.

The author writes:

As a teenager, I inherited a lot of my musical tastes from my brother. Among the albums I listened to were "Killer on the Rampage" and "Going for Broke" by Eddy Grant. I was only vaguely aware at first that they were reggae, and didn't really know what that meant. I discovered that hardly any of my friends had even heard of Eddy Grant, and those that had just knew "Electric Avenue". It was only recently that I realised that The Police were heavily influenced by reggae. Shows how much I know.

Anyway, when I set out to draw this strip, I did my usual search for reference images and visual inspiration. I don't like just copying an existing image, unless that's necessary for parody purposes; instead I like to collect a range of images that combined contain the features I need to supplement what I can do directly out of my head. I was shocked when I google-imaged "dreadlocks" and saw pages and pages of pale white faces with dreadlocks, and just the occasional Bob Marley and ring-ins like Jason Momoa.

Now, on an individual level, I have no problem with people choosing to do whatever they want with their hair, but sometimes fashion turns these individual choices into a fairly aggressive sort of cultural appropriation. I actually had to change my search to "dreadlocks jamaica" to really start seeing images of black people's faces in the results. I suppose some people might see a benefit to the fads among whites for cornrows, dreadlocks, tribal tattoos and so on: wider appreciation and understanding, at least superficially, of some aspects of non-white cultures. But it doesn't surprise me in the least when non-white people get upset when middle-class whites parade around the superficial trappings of other people's cultures as a fashion statement. On the bright side, though, fads tend not to last very long.

Drawn in Krita and Inkscape.