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In Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles, professor Bert Ashe delivers a witty, fascinating, and unprecedented account of black male identity as seen through our culture's perceptions of hair. It is a deeply personal story that weaves together the cultural and political history of dreadlocks with Ashe's own mid-life journey to lock his hair.
After leading a far-too-conventional life for forty years, Ashe began a long, arduous, uncertain process of locking his own hair in an attempt to step out of American convention. Black hair, after all, matters. Few Americans are subject to snap judgements like those in the African-American community, and fewer communities face such loaded criticism about their appearances, in particular their hair. Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles makes the argument that the story of dreadlocks in America can't be told except in front of the backdrop of black hair in America.
Ask most Americans about dreadlocks and they immediately conjure a picture of Bob Marley: on stage, mid-song, dreads splayed. When most Americans see dreadlocks, a range of assumptions quickly follow: he's Jamaican, he's Rasta, he plays reggae; he stinks, he smokes, he deals; he's bohemian, he's creative, he's counter-cultural. Few styles in America have more symbolism and generate more conflicting views than dreadlocks. To "read" dreadlocks is to take the cultural pulse of America. To read Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles is to understand a larger story about the truths and biases present in how we perceive ourselves and others. Ashe's riveting and intimate work, a genuine first of its kind, will be a seminal work for years to come.
dreadlocks, hair styles, hairdressing, black male identity, symbolism, race identity
School of Arts and Sciences
African American Studies | English Language and Literature | Race, Ethnicity and Post-Colonial Studies
Ashe, Bert. Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles. Chicago: Agate, 2015.