kids with dreads, dreadlock discrimination

A Little Child Shall Lead Them: Fighting Dreadlock Discrimination

Photo: Knotty Boy Facebook submission

“There were no black people in my son’s elementary school, and he got dreads.

I told him if the kids teased him, to go to the office and tell the nurse he was sick so he could phone me to come pick him up. Well, the whole day went by, I got no phone call, so when he got home I asked him how his day went. He said everyone made fun of him, called him a girl.

And then he said to me, “It’s ok, though, Mom. I love them. I don’t care how much they (the kids) bug me.” “Did you want me to take them out, DJ?” “Nope.”

Self worth at 7 yrs old is a beautiful thing. He’s kept them ever since. And he’s 22 now.”

From Jennifer in Vancouver, commenting on a Knotty Boy Facebook post about dreadlock discrimination in schools. A little inspiration to keep fighting the good fight, from the strength and self-awareness of a 7 year old. Clearly his mama raised this cutie well!

Got a story about overcoming discrimination against dreadlocks? Tell us! Email your own photos and stories to and we’ll share them with the rest of the Knotty family, to help affirm the decisions we’ve made or are thinking of making. We are knot alone!



  1. Angela Hennessey

    My five year old daughter always had a huge sleeping matt/dread so I figured we would just section off her hair and lock it up as a style. (Like go with the flow!) Being that we live in a predominately conservative neighborhood, I noticed the “looks” she got from parents around school as well as comments from other kids (no discretion whatsoever!) But she insisted that she loved them. I think in other areas of her life, aside from school, she is enjoying the uniqueness it adds to her self. It is part of her that makes her special and stand out. She is totally a dread-baby!

  2. Cameron

    Ive always wanted locks ever since i was young i was in 3rd grade and i was bob marley for halloween my mom made a tam with crochet dreads on it for me and it was awsome But as i got older my patents told me i couldent have dreads I fact they always made me cut my hair short i dident realize why until i was a little bit older but my family is mormon (i am not) thats when it dawned on me im finally an adult and plan to dread soon ive realized how close minded my parents are and it saddens me i never thought they would be like that but after all i am the black sheep

  3. caleb burgler

    When i was 14 yrs old i had had dreads for about a year and it was my first year in high school. Every few days, on my walk home from school, i would be followed by two older, bigger kids. The bigger of the two would constantly spit out remarks about my dreads, from ” oh look its a girl, to “looks like my cat puked all over his head.” i just pretended they werent there and could tell that that bothered him. Eventually they stopped.. I even had a pickup truck full of what i took to be construction workers that’d yell out the window routinly on their eay by. One time they even threw a coffee at me while i was walking. I went on to keep them for about another year n a bit, when i cut them off by my own choice. Now that im older and i know how things work, i know that the reason that guy picked on me was because he was overweight, was picked on himself and was insecure, feeling the need to bring me down to make himself feel better. I dont have any resentment towards him now, tho my 14-15 yr old self was thinking of ways to kill him.. Lol Be proud to be you! Do what you beleive in and let no one tell you it isnt possible… One love!

  4. Arleen

    I’m a thirty-three year old criminal-defense paralegal (as well as freelance model, “Exotika”). My entire life I’ve been a strong advocate for professionals exercising self-expression in the workplace, i.e., tattoos, piercings, etc., having 13 piercings myself, as well as two (2) prominently displayed tattoos on each of my middle fingers. Now, I’ve decided to push the envelope yet again and introduce dreadlocks to the small, “close-minded” community of Shelbyville, Tennessee.

    Sure, I’ve had the occasional dirty looks, but I feel that I’ve educated SOO many people, already, that are just clueless about deadlocks, as a whole. People’s preconceived notions seem to portray dreads as being something “dirty” when, in fact, that’s “D[R]EAD-WRONG”. lol Another thing that truly “urks me”, is the fact that many, apparently, seem to think that dreads are only for a select group of people. This, too, is funny to me. I may be light-skinned, but my family descends from the Canary Islands, which I know, for a fact, has been an area where dreads are a common style… its an EXOTIC, tropical thing, not a skin-color thing. 😉

    I look forward to MANY years of dreadlocks. (As an aside, I also have to mention that I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and always had an issue with playing with my hair as a “nervous tick”. Since dreading my hair, however, I no longer have the impulse to play with my hair, eliminating the problem I have had since I was 7 years old, altogether!! Thank you God AND dreads!!! 🙂

  5. Onalayah

    This is in response to Arleen the paralegal.
    Arleen, you go girl~
    I am a 60 (soon to be 61) white girl who locked up her hair for her 60th birthday.
    Lovin’ every look, every comment ‘cuz finally I’m showing the world who I am!

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