Dear white people with dreadlocks: Some things to consider

Story highlights

  • Two students' confrontation over dreadlocks sparked conversation
  • One SF State student says the other was appropriating black culture with his hair
  • The other student contends that dreadlocks don't belong to just one culture

(CNN)Black hair is a touchy subject tied to beauty, identity and politics. Whether it's Afros and black power or cornrows and hip-hop, hairstyles associated with African-American culture can make a statement before their wearers say a word.

So when whites choose a traditionally black hairstyle such as dreadlocks, it adds another layer of complexity to the issue.
Take the latest case in point: a viral video showing a black woman calling out a white male student at San Francisco State University for his dreadlocks. The video touched off debate over whether dreadlocks on white people constitute cultural appropriation or appreciation, a fashion faux pas or some combination thereof.