Tofarai looks up to the stars
And wonder if there's life on Mars
Some say he should shave his head
But he's proud to be a dread.
--Des'ree, "Proud to Be a Dread"
So you're walking down the street and you see a man or woman wearing dreadlocks. You...
a) Run immediately to the other side of the street.
b) Yell, "Hey, you related to Bob Marley?"
c) Ask where to score the best weed.
If you considered any or all of those responses, plan to submit yourself to an extravagant re-education this Saturday at the First Annual National Dreadlock Summit.
"The National Dreadlock Summit is an event about reconciliation," says Darlene Hosea, organizer of the shindig. "It's an event about healing and cultural awareness, particularly in the black community."
The thirtysomething Hosea, who sports some trim, petitely knotted dreads herself, came up with the idea a year ago: a folksy, all-day, cross-city affair that will offer a crash course in the dreadlock aesthetic. The summit begins with a three-hour morning reception at The Main Place on Main at Alabama. Highlights include a "Glamour Dread" fashion show and a performance by the Dread Dancers. There will also be a Q&A session with various speakers, including California filmmaker T. Nicole Atkinson, who will screen Lockin' Up, a quirky 28-minute documentary she directed.
Later in the afternoon, live music plays from noon to 8 p.m. at MacGregor Park on Calhoun; there will also be kids' crafts and entertainment.
For Hosea, a community organizer since age 21, social and intellectual nourishment for the African-American community is a lifestyle thing. She's also helping in the effort to preserve Freedmen's Town, the oldest African-American settlement in Houston.
Hosea hopes the festival will attract members of "the majority community," and points out that their dollars will be thoroughly welcomed by the festival's vendors. But she doesn't lose sight of her main purpose: to uplift and educate African-Americans -- to give them pride in themselves "as black people and members of the human race in general."
"Our dreadlocks," she states firmly, "come from the original man."
It makes sense. Can you imagine Jesus wearing a perm?
The National Dreadlock Summit starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, October 17, at The Main Place, 3714 Main. Admission for the reception is $20 (the park admission is free). For info, call 641-2124, or get on-line at www.dreadlocksummit.com.