The Afro

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As a fashion statement, and as a symbol of pride born of the Black is beautiful movement, the Afro was at its peak in the early to mid 1970s.
Like all fashion trends and movement symbols, it faded with the passing of the years and the changing of the times.
However, it still has a presence today, though not a major one, worn by Afro diehards like Questlove (real name: Ahmir Khalib Thompson), leader the band the Roots that was already known but greatly increased their profile when they became the house band on Jimmy Fallon’s popular late night show.
Also by avant garde artists like Erykah Badu, artists recognized for ever-changing looks, such as Jill Scott and Solange Knowles, and some younger artists for whom the Afro is something new.
EVEN THE son of a nationally known politician has an Afro.
Bill de Blasio was recently elected mayor of New York City, no doubt the most cosmopolitan, diverse city in the world.
It was surprise enough to the public that de Blasio is White and married to a Black woman, but one of their two children, son Dante, has a large Afro.
In 2013, the New York Daily News ran a feature story headlined “The Afro’s comeback: Once a trend, natural hair is now a part of culture.”
Among famous Afros from back in the day were those of the Sylvers (male members of the group only), Billy Preston, Roberta Flack, Pam Grier, the Brothers Johnson, Sly Stone, the Jacksons, Don Cornelius and an array of “Soul Train” dancers.
Don King is another story altogether. His hair is more “standing all over his head” than an actual Afro.
BUT SHIFTING back to today, Prince, a man of many looks over the years, surprised just about everyone when he recently started wearing an Afro. Of course, this being Prince, he is not likely to have it for very long.
By the way, Prince had an Afro on the cover of his first album, “For You,” in 1978.
Solange Knowles, younger sister of megastar Beyoncé who has cultivated a following of her own, is another one with an inclination for constantly changing looks, and the Afro has been one of them.
THE NEW YORK Daily News story, written by Rheana Murray, said, “It’s big, bold and back in styleThe Afro is making its case for the current decadeA new book is entirely dedicated to the ’do. The timing makes sense.”
“‘People are trying to eat better, cut back on chemicals. It’s not a phase, it’s becoming the culture,’ said Glen Ettienne, owner of the De Lux Gallery hair salon in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.”
Erykah Badu seems determined to “out ’fro” everyone else, even though they are always wigs. How does she travel with them? Tall plastic kitchen bags seem like they would work!
KIM COLES has been wearing a short “Afro-esque” hairstyle lately and it works. In fact, it seems to make her “glow” that much more than she already does naturally.
Macy Gray, whose strange voice would be perfect if Donald Duck ever decided to make a duet recording, seems to be very often inadvertently carrying on the tradition of Don King (and to a lesser extent, Ben Wallace).
And we can’t leave out rap star Ludacris (real name: Christopher Bridges). He doesn’t wear an Afro now, but early in his career, that commenced in 1998, he did.
NOW WE’RE going to “retro” again, back to the years of the original Afro.
Remember Afro Sheen spray conditioner and Afro Sheen hair grease?
Afro picks and Afro combs? Afro blowout kits?
That if you had an Afro in the ’70s, it was wise to avoid the rain? (Otherwise, it was likely to shrink!)
And the fact that Afros became so popular that male recording stars who were known for their processed hair, such as Jackie Wilson and James Brown, eventually took the natural route?
We suspect, though, that they initially missed their shiny, straightened hair. It was part of their identity, and Brown’s Pompadour was a sight to behold.
in one form or another, survives

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