Chapter 3: Invisible Dread: From Twisted: The Dreadlock Chronicles

This excerpt traces the issues and process surrounding the dreadlocking of an African-American professor’s hair. The personal history leading up to the decision to grow locks is briefly addressed, as is the experience of getting twisted for the first time and some reactions to the new hairstyle. Twisted discusses issues of cultural authenticity and academic nonconformity. It examines dreadlocks as a pathway to explore black identity, but in opposing ways: the act of locking one's hair does display unconventional blackness—but it also participates in a preexisting black style. To what extent, the excerpt asks, can the adoption of a hairstyle allow the wearer to nonverbally “speak,” particularly when the hairstyle “says” something completely opposite the wearer’s demeanor? Finally, through various reactions to the altered hairstyle, Ashe explores the boundaries between personal style and preexisting conceptions of style possessed by the world at large.