Tahj Dosso: Casting Aside Stereotypes

Fr. Tahj Doso thrives on standing out from the crowd. BYRON MASON II

Byron: We’re here with Tahj Dosso. Tell me a little bit about your fit.

Tahj: The ensemble I’m wearing is a little bit of a thrift and a little bit of this and that. The shoes, I bought from Adidas, so they’re not really thrifted. The socks are Nike. Don’t tell nobody. The sweatpants are Adidas. A little bootcut though to show the socks a little bit. The sweatshirt is from a friend. And the jean jacket is from a thrift store in New York.

B: How do you put your outfit together? Do you grab whatever you can from a thrift store or is there a method to your madness?

T: So if I’m in the thrift store, honestly, it’s what catches my eye because there’s a million and one pieces of clothing out there. So whatever catches my eye, that’s what I end up buying. And when I go home or I’m looking what to wear for class the next day, it honestly depends how I’m feeling. And it’s the temperature. And if I’m really feeling to put some work into it, I’ll put the work into it and put a good fit together.  

B: Tell me about the kind of cropped look you have going on with your pants.

T: I’m a tall individual. My legs are type long. So, I feel like short pants kind of complement long legs with long socks. That’s kind of my method for the madness.

The sweatpants aren’t mine. It was a little bit of a thrift trade. So, one day I was going to the gym and I see that the weather is getting type chilly outside. And I didn’t have any sweatpants because I normally cut my sweatpants short because I cut them into basketball shorts. So the first person I see is Meru (Sharma). And Meru says ‘Tahj these sweatpants are too big on me.’ And I take the pants and they reach the middle of my calf. So I was like ‘Beggars can’t be choosers’ and I take the sweatpants and I go to the gym. And then after a few days, I started rocking with the sweatpants and i wanted to keep them so I traded her a jacket I bought from the thrift store.

B: Thinking about your hometown, how do you think that living in New York has kind of impacted your style?

T: When people think of a black man from New York, first they think of Jordans and dotted jeans and Nike sweatsuits. That wasn’t really me. I seen a lot of that going to high school. But I never really dressed like anyone else. I had one pair of Jordans. I wore them so much that the bottoms started coming off. I started noticing that I don’t dressed like anybody else and I like to dress differently. My mom always hated it because I always would cuff my jeans in high school. And I still do it now, but she doesn’t know ‘cause she’s not here. But as time progressed, I started, like, slowly developing my own style.

B: Let’s talk about your hair. How did you begin your hair journey?

T: My mother’s Jamaican. Her father’s Jamaican. Her father is Rastafarian so he has dreads. And my mother never had dreads growing up so she wanted us to have dreads. But I guess we weren’t, me and my sister really didn’t want the dreads. And towards the end of high school, I wanted them. But I never knew how they wanted to look yet. So I decided to do, the day after graduation, get my hair done. And after I got my hair done, it was like June 28, I stuck with it until now.

B: How is it, with your style, being on DePauw’s campus?

T: There’s black men on campus. I feel like we’re in a time and age where black men and hair has become a big fascination. I’d bet any amount of money that twenty years ago, if you’d seen the very few black men that are on campus, they all would’ve had the same short, cut hairstyle. I feel like we’re in a time and age where everybody has different hairstyles. Like, I know two other students who have dreads like me. I don’t really know people with low haircuts.

B: How do you think your hair has affected how people perceive your style or even just perceive you?

T: Perceive my style, not so much. Perceive me, definitely. Before I came here, when we were having pictures for seminar, they seen my photo. I did this on purpose because I wanted to show my classmates that I’m not angry. That’s why I chose a angry photo on purpose. And when I came, my classmates assumed I was angry based off my ID photo. I didn’t know anybody. No one knew each other so we didn’t really talk much. So my classmates assumed I was angry. Well, some of my white classmates assumed I was angry. The students of color in my seminar didn’t assume I was angry.

B: Has this affected how you go through your daily routine?

T: Definitely. So I have a white roommate, and I feel like DePauw does this purposefully; where they put two different students from two different worlds to live together. And sometimes it may work and sometimes it may not because we have two different views of how things should work. Like, he’s a very messy person, and I make up my bed every time I get up. So I feel like it has a lot to do with the way I was brought up, and I feel like black children are brought up different than white children. And I can see that in my roommate and myself. So I move differently in different spaces because I can’t live the same life that some of my white students live.