Hey, I’m thinking about writing/drawing a fanfiction Batman comic, mainly centered around an OC villain of mine, because as everybody knows the best part about Batman is the villains. Her name is Ann Archy, (get it? Get it?) and as her name suggests she is obsessed with the idea that order and rules are stopping society from progressing, and that only by taking down Gotham’s infrastructure can she “save” Gotham. In my mind, she’s got dreadlocks, because dreadlocks kind of symbolize the chaos that she so loves. She guides the hair, but it goes where it pleases, and creates something beautiful. Unfortunately, as I did my research I realized that this might come across as “Dreadlocks are dangerous, chaotic, the people who wear them don’t have respect for authority, etc.” Kind of feeding into the “Dreadlocks are dirty, untamed, stereotypes.” I truly don’t mean to come off this way, I don’t see dreadlocks as something dirty and chaotic, but I do feel as if this character would choose to wear her hair like this because she would see it as another way to let chaos and fate rule her life. Is this problematic, and if so how can I change it as to not portray negative stereotypes?
Give your Black character dreadlocs or box braids or cornrows that are long in the back, for aesthetic purposes because it’s a comic and dreadlocs in action look bad-ass (see Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, and her braid whipping around). But beyond that, if you intend to give your character dreadlocs, it should be because of a reason that resonates with research that you actually did like “My character is literally a rastafarian who wears dreadlocks due to the writings in the book of Leviticus” and not because it’s meant to represent chaos.
I agree. Please do not apply chaotic symbolism to dreadlocks. It doesn’t help the stereotype that those with them (not talking about appropriators who are praised, but actual Black people with dreadlocks who get policed & demonized) are indeed chaotic, dangerous people.
And i’m not seeing where dirty plays in…are her dreads not cleaned and properly taken care of? I’d show that they are given lots of upkeep and care in your work. Also, despite her believing chaos is the way to go, if she’s guiding the hair, it’s a very controlled, deliberate act even for one who is causing chaos. Despite wanting to create chaos, her actions themselves have thought and control. That to me seems to shave off a bit of the “random/chaotic” off of her hair.
And as usual, please have more Black non-villainous characters, especially if she’s in no way leaning near sympathetic and/or anti-hero. You might even feature more non-criminal Black characters with dreads too.