How can we stop white dudes from thinking they're cool and/or like Rasta just 'cause they're stoners?
— Seriously Over It
Dear friend who is fed up with mediocre white men,
It's been attempted by many a person, but time has shown that there's not much that can be done. They need to come to the realization on their own (perhaps once they graduate their progressive, expensive, small liberal arts college and enter the "real world"?) and make the change themselves. In the meantime, feel free to post this helpful video to their Facebook wall as often as you'd like.
But for real, I think there's actually merit in talking about the conflation between cannabis culture and Rastafarianism, and how cultural appropriation ties into it all. I understand the appeal that Rastafarianism and Rasta culture has for many folks—especially young white dudes. It's a culture and religion that promotes an irie, mellow way of life, free from the constrictions of Babylon (i.e. "the man"), and one that also involves a whole lot of smoking weed. The perfect mixture, especially for a college aged guy trying to find himself.
What young white dude wouldn't want to live a chill, anti-establishment life while high all the time? And yes, I know, red, yellow, and green are great color choices and look fabulous on everyone. However, the thing to remember is that at it's root, Rasta culture is a religion, and that's where things get tricky. I'd like to think that someone who wasn't Jewish wouldn't just decide to wear a Star of David, or start wearing peyas (aka the curly locks on the side of the head) just because they're huge fans of matzah ball soup.
Taking on bits and pieces of a religion and culture—particularly one that is steeped in Black history, especially if you're white—is appropriation. It's like wearing a costume that doesn't belong to you. It's disrespectful at best and racist at worst.
I get the appeal—a religion that not only allows, but celebrates cannabis: Awesome! But, one can enjoy marijuana without appropriating aspects of a religion, I promise (and yes, you can still listen to Reggae music, but please, PLEASE, stay away from getting dreadlocks, young white man). So, if you happen to have a friend who resembles this letter, why not do him a solid and have a frank talk with him? Let him know he can still partake in marijuana without acting the fool and appropriating a culture that isn't his. And if all else fails, remember: RAS TRENT.