COLUMN: Actions key change, not appearance

A few weeks ago I nearly cut my hair. When I told people this I didn't realize how much my hair defined who I was to some people. I found out I was the "Dread Man," in addition to being the "angry black guy," or the "how you doing, Queen"-type cat, among other things.

First off, I'm not Rastafarian and locks don't make you one. I don't think I have any more special attachment to my hair than most any other person who has put time, effort and money into it out does. My hair doesn't have so much special energy that I am a completely different person without it. In the end for me, it amounts to my hair being mostly just that: hair, albeit hair that doesn't style as such so naturally for everyone, nor has the same historical significance (see ancient Africa or the Mau Maus for examples).

I've come to the conclusion that while, for some people, hair may have some higher spiritual meaning, for me that's not true. Most people today don't feel that way about natural hair or chemically altered hairstyles. That's all well and good; it's their hair, let them do as they please.

"Now question, is every (brotha) with dreads for the cause? Is every (brotha) with golds for the fall? Naw. So don't get caught in appearance."

So says a "ghetto laureate," Andr+à-+ 3000, n+à-+e Andr+à-+ Benjamin. If you think about it, the phrase makes sense. Regardless of whether or not you're of the mind that a revolution is coming, you probably have an idea of how it'd look. This is especially true if you feel as if college students wielding Franz Fanon and the Tao te Ching with visions of Paulo Friere's commentary running though their heads are or should be at the forefront of this revolution.

rev*o*lu*tion (rv-lshn) n.

2 a : a sudden, radical, or complete change b : a fundamental change in political organization; especially : the overthrow or renunciation of one government or ruler and the substitution of another by the governed c : activity or movement designed to effect fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation d : a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm synonym Rebellion - Merriam Webster

I also checked a few other sources, including former Panthers. No revolutionary dress code of note. The Movement wasn't berets and black leather. And it won't be showcased with line formations and empty rhetoric. The Movement wasn't afros, beads and medallions. The revolution won't be (dread)locks and head wraps. Everyone isn't going to look the so-called part of the revolutionary warrior. That's not how it works. That's never been how it works.

Tattoos, piercing, perms and pork: The debate will rage on. But we can't let minor things like this fell us like the SuperTexan and pretzels (read: We've got to see the big picture. Also, fear the snack food; unless, that is, Bush was only mimicking another Dolphins playoff performance). Anyone can look and/or talk the part. Preachers preach. Revolutionaries do. (Not that you can't be both.)

That said, how do we as college students fit in? How does it apply to us? A professor challenged me to look in the mirror and to be more than just potential. To be more than the person everyone says has had the chance to do something positive, maybe even great. She alluded to the fact that even in the absence of some great national battle (no, terrorism doesn't count) it's up to the current crop of students - next generation's leaders - to find a focus, or more correctly to direct the focus to the proper concerns. And isn't that why we're all here, to become those future leaders, whether educational, business, political or revolutionary? To turn our potential kinetic?

It's a personal choice, a lifestyle decision, one for each of us to decide regardless of what you look like while making that decision or afterward.

So I didn't cut my hair this time, but I came close. No revolution or movement was advanced because of locks. But, they sure are nice to look at and play with, right?

Write to Aric at ariclewis@hotmail.com


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