In an article titled The Afro as a Natural Expression of Self, writer Ruth La Ferla exemplifies, through a series of interviews, that even though an afro might be viewed as political, the reasons for someone to sport one aren’t always.
The writer spoke to women and men of all ages and stages of their “hair journeys”. From the son of New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, Dante de Blasio:
To an unassuming 16 year old highschool senior from Brooklyn, Noah Negron:
“I’m an environmentalist,” he said. “That’s where the locks come in. It’s like all natural.”
To Oprah’s 3.5lb hairstyle for a cover of her “O” magazine and the man who styled it, Andre Walker
“In the ’60s the Afro was looked upon as ‘Wow, you’re stepping out there, you’re really going against the grain,’ ” said Andre Walker, the man who fluffed Ms. Winfrey’s wig into its umbrella-size proportions. In contrast, “When I talk to a lot of the kids from this generation,” he said, “the whole civil rights movement, it’s very vague to them.
To photographer and artist Michael July, who photographed a series of Afros for his book, Afros: A Celebration of Natural Hair:
Buy it now, here.
“Many of his subjects told Mr. July that going natural was a way of embracing their racial heritage or rekindling their self-esteem.
But others in Mr. July’s book went out of their way to distance themselves from the radical politics of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation. “I don’t wear my hair natural because I’m strictly Afrocentric or don’t believe in the white man’s perm,” Sofia Loren Coffee said. “I wear my hair this way because I truly think I look adorable with natural hair.”
It’s clear our hair stories don’t always overlap, and I’m glad that this particular article really managed to capture that. And, honestly, I’m even happier this article managed to capture that with nary a mention of one particular documentary.