Jaden Smith Held His Dreads In His Hands At The Met Gala And Here's Why That Matters
Jaden Smith is making yet another fashion statement at this year's Met Gala.
The young star has graced the red carpet holding the disembodied dreadlocks he cut off.
Smith was only recently spotted with his tame, new haircut.
People are having mixed reactions.
But all jokes aside, Smith holding his locks as a young, black man is an empowering moment.
Intentional or not (I'm betting on intentional), the young man is sending the message that although he cut his dreadlocks and assumed a tamer look (read: more "mainstream"), his hair is still a part of him that he remains unashamed of.
Although black hair is as political today as it was in, say, the '70s when "baby hair and afros" were considered symbols of militancy—there have been quite a few "hair moments" in recent years that show how often people of color still have to defend hair that grows out of their heads and the styles that are part of their cultures.
Think of the "nappy hair" insult that Moroccan rapper, French Montana, slung towards a black woman on Twitter who wore long, box braids. She joins a long list of black women who have been berated for their hair not meeting society's standards of beauty.
Racist hair policing is also a common struggle students face in schools.
Last week, a black elementary student was threatened with suspension for wearing a pretty normal haircut. A few years ago, a black second grader's braids were cut by a teacher who was tired of her playing with them.
And we can't forget how culture appropriation fits into this convo.
Many have taken issue with how white celebrities and designers have been revered as the innovators of hairstyles that have been in the black community for centuries.
There was the "mini buns" debacle that black people call Bantu knots and have been doing forever.
The Kardashian clan has also been credited with making cornrows cool, when nearly every black girl can dig up a picture of her wearing the braided hair style as snaggle-toothed adolescent.
This is why actress, Amandla Stenberg, found it necessary to call out Kylie Jenner for wearing the style that black people created without demonstrating any true concern for actual black people.
The problem is not white people wearing the style, but them taking the parts of blackness that they consider "cool", yet forgetting about the more sinister part of the black experience: Racism and discrimination.
The erasure of blackness and our hair history is just another way to undermine the creativity and innovation of a people who have historically been oppressed and made to feel like they have little value to add to society.
We live in a world where a black man can be profiled as a thug for simply wearing his hair in dreadlocks—but Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid can strut down a Marc Jacobs runway displaying them as a desirable "high fashion" style.
Jaden Smith choosing his severed locks as his date is a symbol of pride in the face of all that struggle.
That's what makes that young man cool AF.
He cut his hair when he wanted to. And he carried it as his date because his hair is his to hold and his to love no matter what anyone has to say about it.