A white woman with dreadlocks says in a viral video that “Black women with weaves” have criticized her hair. In response, the woman evokes Black stereotypes while defending her hairstyle.
In a TikTok posted on Wednesday, Rel Gumson (@rocknrelisback) says that Black women who have weaves have criticized her “beautiful, freeform, curly dreadlocks.”
“It’s like nah,” Gumson says in her TikTok. “Bye, Shequandra!”
In the video’s caption, she included the hashtag #rastalife. The tag references Rastafari, a political and religious movement that began in Jamaica and focuses on pan-African consciousness and the religious redeeming of Black people.
On Thursday, Gumson’s video had almost 100,000 views.
In her other videos, Gumson says that people of color don’t want to be called “colored people” anymore and that “TikTok is oriented around the Black Lives Matter movement.” She also dances to Blacktivity’s “I’m Black Y’all.”
“Curly haired people are oppressed!” Gumson wrote in the overlay text of a video about how she is self-employed because her hair is an obstacle to getting a job.
Discussions around whether it’s appropriate for white people to wear hairstyles originated by Black people, like box braids, have proliferated in the past decade.
The general consensus is that so often, white people wear these hairstyles without understanding the historical and cultural context—or acknowledging that Black people with the same hairstyles face prejudice that their white peers don’t face.
“The privilege of being able to wear locs sans scrutiny, while simultaneously not needing to know anything about their history is what pisses Black folks off,” Josie Pickens wrote for Ebony in 2016.
Pickens added that Black women wearing weaves and relaxers are not likewise appropriative because “we are socialized to believe that long, flowing, European hair is beautiful and alluring.”
Many commenters on Gumson’s viral video stated that her dreadlocks are cultural appropriation and that overall, her behavior comes off as attention-seeking.
“Ma’am, how about getting yourself a talent, if you need attention this badly,” @tomisha_c commented. “Why are you WEIRD??!!”
“I bet she would of never came up with this hairstyle herself,” @rebeccafreeb wrote. “If she didn’t see someone Black do it first.”
“EXCUSE ME?????” @mybloodyvalentinesday wrote.
With regard to Shequandra, the name she mentioned in her viral video, Gumson wrote in a comment that she is an “old neighbor/ex girlfriend.” Commenters responded by saying “bye” to stereotypically white women’s names.
“Bye Chelsey,” @pwiercin commented.
“Bye Rebecca,” @dashikiiair wrote.
“Bye Sharon!!” @kaetq added.