George Graham

What Do Dreadlocks Signify?

Zendaya Coleman, an 18 year-old Disney Channel star, wore dreadlocks to the Oscar Awards (photo above) and drew the following remark on E! News Entertainment from fashion critic Giuliana Rancic (at left):

(She) looked like she smelled of patchouli oil…or maybe weed.

Ms. Coleman was understandably offended.

She called the remark “a large stereotype” and said she chose the style “to remind people of color that our hair is good enough.”

I am sure that Ms. Coleman smelled of expensive perfume. And I am sure she was not only beautiful but also squeaky clean.

And I know, as the young entertainer pointed out, that all kinds of people – even children – wear dreadlocks these days.

But I wonder whether dreadlocks have become a pro-marijuana symbol in the minds of some Americans. And, if so, what’s wrong with that?

Many American states are legalizing the use of marijuana. So is my native country of Jamaica.

I don’t know what “patchouli oil” is but I know a little about marijuana. And, as far as I can tell, it’s rather innocuous. It certainly seems a lot less dangerous than alcohol, which is legal just about everywhere.

And it doesn’t smell that bad – kind of musky, I suppose, not what a young lady would choose for an evening out, but certainly not rank.

What was really┬árank was the fashion critic’s sneering attitude.

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About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for