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Why We Shouldn’t Be Surprised That Anthony Mackie Blames Dreadlocks for Racial Profiling

Avatar • Feb 17, 2015

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Several weeks ago, while doing some promo for a new film, Anthony Mackie shared some views on locs that had the internet in uproar for a few days. Here’s a recap of the drama, with the quote that caused a ruckus below:

I think the problem with racial profiling is the actions that come along with it. Like my nephew wanted to grow dreadlocks. I’m like fine, I’ll sit you down and I’ll watch “The First 48 with you and everybody you see on that show, that’s doing something wrong, they’re black dudes with dreadlocks.”

Anthony Mackie later backtracked and said his words were taken out of context, claiming that his point was not that dreadlocks as a style were bad or criminal, but that the perceptions police hold of dreadlocks lead to incidents of profiling.

Confused? As am I.

Here’s why Mackie’s assumption that locs are a source of racial profiling shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Americans in general are so individualistic that we are quick to blame incidents of racial profiling on people’s behaviors and choices, rather than on the system. Part of this is the media’s fault, as they go above and beyond to justify profiling, stop and frisk laws or police brutality with “evidence” of the individual’s criminal past, their overbearing demeanor, or their match to the suspect’s description.

However, the community is also at fault. Too many of us believe that how we look justifies people’s perceptions of us, so we discourage one another for wearing locs or even our natural hair. While we’re ok with athletes and musicians growing locs, within the black community, locs are still not accepted as a professional hairstyle. Black organizations continue to tell young men, with masters degrees, that the hairstyle is unprofessional and unsightly. At some HBCUS, dreadlocks are not even permitted in masters of business administration programs. Men and women are discharged from the military for wearing locs, even if they have served for over a decade. Little black boys are sent home from school for their locs, even when they are a significant part of their religion. These are just the instances that make the news.

Mackie, like many of us, failed to redirect the blame of racial profiling and discrimination to the system, rather than on the individual. But until the black community can be accepting of natural hairstyles in all contexts, especially locs, we can’t expect those outside of the black community to be respecting of the same hairstyles that we shun.

 

What are your thoughts? Do you agree with Anthony Mackie’s approach?

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About Klassy Kinks

KlassyKinks.com founder and editor, Ijeoma Eboh, is on a mission to change perceptions of kinky textured hair around the world. You can find her on social media @klassykinks.

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Cheri Ann
Cheri Ann
5 years ago

Wow, wow, wow. I’m starting to believe that more Black men cling to respectability politics than many of us realize or are willing to admit. Just my observations. It’s super whack and disappointing.

Efuru
Efuru
5 years ago

Between this and his comments on gender roles, it’s like he is trying to make himself dead to me (Help! My name is Efuru and my fav is problematic). I am so disappointed that he is helping perpetuate ‘The Good Black’ stereotype.

Hair Anomaly
Hair Anomaly
5 years ago

Truth: Appearance is not indicative of a person’s character. Fact: Appearance is used as a judge of a person’s character. Sad…Yes. True…Yes. He is making a statement about the pathetic state of our world today. Should we be working toward changing this…absolutely. But, why get mad at him for stating what many of us know to be true from experience? Get angry at the offense itself, not at the person who points it out. The person who decides to let these facts and experiences dictate the way they live has their own issues to work out, but it’s a personal… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel
5 years ago

I agree with him. These rappers wear dread locks and act like gangsters like lil Wayne we see that on tv and black people embrace it And say it’s cool they carry guns in videos then say I’m so hood. Our men imitate and end up shot dead while rappers go home to their mansions in Orange county. Black people are the only culture that embraces a gangster look then screams don’t judge me cuz I look like the rapper I like on bet. All we talk about is hood life than get mad when we get stereotyped. We need… Read more »

Chevanne
5 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Incredibly ignorant and short sighted comment. There are gangsters all over the world that young kids are emulating and if they had as much media as the US, they’d have the same issues we do. Problem is that systematic oppression came before rappers. Human beings deserve respect no matter what. That’s part of what it is to be in a community.

rachel
rachel
5 years ago
Reply to  Chevanne

YOur right ever human does deserve respect but we have to help ourselves first. When we stop looking like bafoons on tv to make some quick cash and having the white man make the real money then we can start to blame “the white man” Have a higher standard. so sick of this BET lifestyle everyone wants and then not expect people to look atyou that way. I cried at Selma because thats what black people should be about not bootys, the club, lil wayne, hip hop wives and all that foolishness. Thats why we look stupid to the world… Read more »

Ms. Vee
Ms. Vee
5 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

You are an example of why idiots should not be allowed to have opinions.

SMH
SMH
5 years ago

People like Mackie would love to believe that all they need to do is have the right hairstyle and they will be protected from racist cops.

It’s hard for them to accept that there are those out there who will hate us and actively seek to do us harm no matter what.

Lucie
5 years ago

Mackie has been suspect to me for years. Years ago he gave an interview in Essence talking about the most important thing about a woman was whether she cared for her feet/ kept her toenails painted. Seriously? Okay, Anthony, okay.

Chevanne
5 years ago

If it mattered what clothes we wore or hairstyles we had, then MLK wouldn’t have been shot. Being black drives suspicion.

Rachel
Rachel
5 years ago
Reply to  Chevanne

MLK jr was not shot because of a stereotype. He broke the mold of a stereotype. He was shot because he was a great leader and going to bring alot of change not because he supposedly looked like a stereotypical black criminal.

Brittany.L
Brittany.L
5 years ago

When I heard this story I couldn’t believe because I have met wonderful men with locs for one, and two with or without locs black men will always be racially profiled it’s not the hair Mr. Mackie a It’s he skin tone, and the stereotypes that gets a racially profiled and may one day we see change.

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Dee
Dee
5 years ago

Black men in America are seen as criminals, no matter how they wear their hair. My significant other who is Black and never committed any crimes has been harassed by the cops frequently. By the way, he wears his hair cut short.

good2bfree
good2bfree
5 years ago

Mackie is another example of what happens when Black celebrities ‘cross over’ into the mainstream. They have a tendency to pop off at the chops to the white media about what is ‘wrong’ with Black folks and the Black community, and then try and backtrack by claiming they’re words were taken out of context. Negro please!

Ms. Vee
Ms. Vee
5 years ago

Why we shouldn’t be surprised with Anothony Mackie’s statement:

Because he’s an idiot and a coon. Simple and plain. The black folk that have been killed by police lately were targeted simply because of their locs.

I can’t…

Victor Steele
Victor Steele
5 years ago

Anthony Mackie has consistently made these remarks that are a bit off racially.He has a right to his opine, but damn if I’ll run back to the Plantation with him

DCW
DCW
5 years ago

SMH!!!…and this is the same mentality as “why was the rape victim wearing a thigh high skirt and out after 6pm???”…what Mackie fails to understand is that black men of all ages, all across this country (USA) could make a pact today, or tomorrow and decide that they would all keep low cut hair and wear suits and ties everyday…these things (racial profiling, stop&frisk, murder of unarmed black boys and men, etc and the list goes on) would STILL happen!!!!! He’s not looking at the bigger picture here…c’mon (Mackie) you may have had good intentions but please try again!

Anthro Pop
Anthro Pop
5 years ago

This fool has been saying dumb ish for a while now. He’s an idiot… even if he does fight alongside Capt. America.

Stacey
Stacey
5 years ago

Here is what a lot of people do not know. I learned this when I moved to Houston after hurricane Katrina. A lot of young black men in New Orleans have dreadlocks. Anthony is from the or lives there. So based on his experience of being there, this is what he probably witnessed on a day to day basis. I am from Philadelphia and sometimes black men with full beards are racially profiled. Maybe Mr. Mackie should have explaimed that so that once again we are not in an uproar without all the facts. So unfortunately, that is why he… Read more »

Sarah Briggs
Sarah Briggs
5 years ago

it is sad that people think if they just dress or look the part that they will be okay.…Brown, Gardner, and Martin did not wear locs.….we have to educate and accept ourselves and our culture first and foremost

Likewaterforchoc
Likewaterforchoc
5 years ago

Doesn’t Anthony Mackie’s wife had locs?

Chevanne
5 years ago

Here’s the thing: white people are already doing that shit and no one comes down on them as a group! I have every right to shake my ass, wear a green wig or get drunk. I am an adult. In white America, criticism gets levied against the individual but when Lil Wayne puts out an album it reflects on me? That’s part of racism is generalizing a whole group of people. It’s nice to get the right to stand as an individual and we should be fighting to allow entertainment to stand without judgement of a group. There is a… Read more »

Rachel
Rachel
5 years ago
Reply to  Chevanne

i totally agree with what your saying. No sarcasm. Blacks should be able to do the same ignorant stuff whites do with out having it be a negative. I look at it as negative from both sides. Why not have a higher standard though. If whites get drunk and naked why not have a higher standard and say im not going to do that not because I will look like a black fool but because I know my worth and its not CHrist like. Im a christian so it all goes back to the bible for me but your right… Read more »

clever_moniker
5 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Well, this is where we need to examine the nature of our choices and what they mean. I know a Christian who hosts dildo parties on the weekend. She is apparently a good mother, friend and employee so what does it matter? Some people want to let loose. I think if they stay safe and don’t hurt others, then they can deal with the punishing hangover as their consequence. Moderation is key. Excess is damaging. We have to find life balance and while I don’t choose to conduct myself in a certain way, I won’t deny someone else that option.… Read more »

Chevanne
5 years ago

In conversations about race, someone inevitably brings up MLK as a cue to cull outrage by citing a quote about peace or to illustrate how upstanding a man he was and that his pants reached his waist. Just because MLK was acceptable to white eyes, doesn’t mean his blackness wasn’t a threat. After all, he was fighting for disenfranchised citizens who had a right to this country but were seen as less. It’s naive to think his race played no role. When did what a black man looked like immunize him from suspicion or hatred? “Stereotypical black criminal” — where… Read more »

Bigantic
Bigantic
5 years ago

People will always prejudge a person mainly by their perceived race. The locks hardly make a difference.

The locks, gender, bagginess of clothing, youthfulness, high intensity of skin tone, simply add or subtract points to the negativity in a person’s (ie police officer, teacher, employer) mind.

For example, a young dark brown man (black) with locks, an Asian woman with locks, and a mixed race elderly (black and Caucasian) man with locks will all be judged differently.

alt-K
alt-K
5 years ago

Ugh..

disqus_l5AKLiKBqN
disqus_l5AKLiKBqN
5 years ago

Americans in general are so individualistic that we are quick to blame
incidents of racial profiling on people’s behaviors and choices, rather
than on the system.”

You’re wildly generalizing about the culture and thought processes of an entire group. I know Americans and American culture are the favorite whipping boy for wide-sweeping generalizations by ‘writers’ about everything from race to Mayan prophecies, but OWN your own thoughts and perceptions instead of taking the easy route and ascribing your opinions to literally hundreds of millions of people.

Trice
Trice
5 years ago

This is the same guy that said a woman’s job is “to make daddy a sandwich” Get this clown out of here.

elleroc
elleroc
5 years ago

Anthony Mackie, please insert foot inside mouth! Thank you!

kia
kia
5 years ago

Negropeans make my damn head hurt

LeNette
LeNette
5 years ago

And to think, Mackie may be playing a Black Captain America in the future. With comments like that, are we as a people supposed to hold our heads up high with pride for Mackie?

Funny thing is his girlfriend is Black with natural hair. What is he talking about? Does he even know?

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