my name is brett “Fish” anderson and i have dreads.

“Hi, Brett”

or something like that.

it’s been three years now and probably not a lot longer and i am super grateful to my beautiful wife Val [tbV] for setting it up and my good friends, Mike Dreads and Formerly Emo then Dread Kev for putting in the effort and practically working them into my bad-for-dreads-thin-untangly-white-man-hair

but i have loved the experience of having them, probably even more than the actual dreads.

and especially since coming home to South Africa where i am a hero at almost every traffic light where black men are standing, selling things or asking for money…

fist pumps, “Irie man” and requests for, or offers of weed greet me on an almost daily basis and i have loved it – instant community, acceptance and affection – you’re one of us.

i’m not gonna lie, as far as quality of dreads go, i certainly don’t think i’m one of them – not even close – my hair was not designed naturally for dreads and so most other peoples’ look better than mine

but it’s been a vibe


today i went to century city to do some shopping and meet a friend and as i was driving out of the parking lot, as there often is when it’s busy, there was a lady collecting parking tickets and letting people go through

she was a black lady with really stunning braided hair and as i drew up alongside her and gave her a big smile, she looks at me and with a smile asks me, “Can i touch your hair?”

so i reach into the car and whip them over my shoulder to the front so she can get a good feel and say, “Sure!”

she feels them and looks at me and smiles some more, ‘They’re just like ours, mos.”

Day made!


It was just a great day and moment and i loved it. But if i had to look for a bit of a lesson, as i was driving away i was wondering what the vibe would have been if it had been the other way around race-wise. Because i have heard complaints about some of the stereotypes that exist and from a black perspective the question of, “Can i touch your hair?” as a thing or race or offence or whatever.

This clearly wasn’t that. Curious person asking question, quick exchange, answer given. So easy. And i think often we can look more deeply into things and find racism or stereotyping or whatever, where there is none and make things out of things that are not really there.

And it feels like such a completely fine line, because i think sometimes seemingly innocent questions can contain the ignorance or racism or privilege and do need to be challenged. But sometimes we can err on the politically correct side and just be ridiculous. How do we figure out the difference? By being gracious to those around us and not taking ourselves to seriously, i guess. And being extra cautious around others at times, maybe.

But in the meantime, i am really glad that while i still have my dreads, i got to help a friendly hard-working lady answer a question that had been on her mind.

Irie man, indeed.

Irie (I-rie \I ‘ -ree) is the word in Jamaican Patois that means, “alright”. The term can be used to mean 1: powerful and pleasing; 2: excellent, highest; n 3: the state of feeling great. [wikipedia]

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