From appearing on magazine covers to being the subject of some side-eye-worthy commentary, dreadlocks have been getting quite some time in the spotlight, lately. All of the attention has been raising questions about the hairstyle (and about black hair in general), and University of Richmond professor Bert Ashe is offering up some answers with Twisted: My Dreadlock Chronicles.
Now, we’ve all made some pretty major hair changes, but few require the investment and commitment that dreadlocks do. Twisted follows Ashe’s journey as he comes to this realization, serving as one of the only books to delve into the intricacies of black hair from a male perspective. The process of growing dreads, as he learns, isn’t as simple as just letting his hair grow freely without washing it — it’s a process that requires patience, determination, and, yes, shampoo.
At the same time, though, Twisted is much more than a chronicle of Ashe’s dreads, but rather of dreadlocks themselves, as the author documents his journey in tandem with a history of the hairstyle. He discusses the social and cultural consequences of adopting the style — facing judgment from the “Black Hair Police Department” during the early stages of his twisting process, whether his hair will be suited for the workplace, the appropriation of Rasta culture — and the unique qualities of black hair and its upkeep (um, sitting for four-plus hours to get Poetic Justice braids? The struggle is real).
Twisted is equal parts amusing as it is enlightening for readers, regardless of their hair textures, and a necessary read that finally gives dreadlocks the praise they deserve.