How the word “Afro” is used in the USA versus in Africa & Latin America
During the 60s and 70s in the United States of America, the African-American community was diving deep into the Civil Rights Movement. In this time frame of life, many African-Americans embraced their afro to redefine personal style and appreciation of their beauty. This cultural movement marked a return to more natural, untreated hairstyles. The afro became a powerful political symbol that reflected Black pride and a rejection of notions from Euro-Americans working in the professional world who didn’t see this hairstyle fit in the business professional world.
In the mid-1960s, the afro hairstyle began in a fairly tightly coiffed form, such as the hairstyle that became popular among the Black Panther Party members. The late 1960s/early 1970s saw an expansion in afros overall size. Some of the entertainers and sociopolitical figures of the time known for wearing larger afros include political activist Angela Davis, actress Pam Grier, rock musician Jimi Hendrix, singer Miriam Makeba, and the musical groups’ members The Jackson 5 and The Supremes.
In contrast, the afro’s popularity among African Americans had already started to wane by the early 1970s; the afro’s introduction to the mainstream and its adoption by people of non-African descent caused the afro to lose its radical, political edge. The 1970s saw an increase in braided hairstyles such as cornrows among both sexes of African Americans.
Since the 60s & 70s, the word afro in the United States depicts a natural-kinky-coily volumized hairstyle worn by African-Americans. In today’s time, mostly women and some men are going back to their natural hairstyles. The Big Chop movement within the African-American community represented women cutting off their relaxed/straight hair and beginning a new chapter of their natural hair.
I’m writing about this because the word “afro” spelled this way should be changed by dropping the “a”. If we drop the “a”, the word turns to “fro” which still means volumized, kinky, coily, natural hair. The new word form, “fro” can still make sense to the natural puffy hairstyle. Majority of African-Americans when they see the natural volumized puffy hairstyle still to this day call it an “afro”. Hopefully, we can transition to recognize the hairstyle in the word term “fro.
Because of our mama Africa, Afro-Brazilians, Afro-Latinos, Afro-Carribeans, and Afro-Cubans have always embraced who they are as Africans living in another land. They’ve blended cultures with the Portuguese and Spaniards to create new music, dance, art, and food. The Afro momentum within the African diaspora from people working in the music industry, fashion, entertainment, culinary, writers, and social media influencers are spreading the love and beauty of African culture.
The subject of the word in the United States has been transitioning in small pockets. Some Afro-Americans are utilizing the abbreviated concept of “Afro” on their username accounts, clothing brands, music festivals, events, and news content on digital sites. You may have heard a festival called AfroPunk on the East Coast that’s been defining a culture space for creatives, artists, and musicians. A space dedicated to letting people let lose in how they see fit. This festival refers to the participation of African-Americans in punk and alternative subcultures.
Let’s examine how in Africa and other African descent populations in Europe, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean use the word “Afro.”
Specifically in these parts of the world. The word “Afro” is not used to represent hairstyle; it represents people of African descent. In Africa, they use the word “Afro” to associate with the new African music style that’s making waves in the USA called Afrobeat or Afrohouse music. This music genre is coming from Africans within the African diaspora. Another way, the “Afro” prefix is used when recognizing your African heritage/race, especially when you live outside of Africa.
For instance, many Africans live in Mexico, Central America, and South America. These Africans use the prefix word “Afro” to represent their African ancestry. Afro-Mexicans, Afro-Hondurans, Afro-Belizians, Afro-Panamanians, Afro-Columbians, Afro-Peruvians, and so on. However, many of these Africans still associate with the word “black” because of media & entertainment in the USA. Even though they associate their race group with the prefix, “Afro.” This group of Afro-Latinos celebrates its African heritage, culture, fashion, and food. Some groups of Afro-Latinos still speak their African dialectic while they know their secondary language, Spanish.
Being able to witness these groups of Afro-Latinos, who cherish their African heritage while not living in Africa, is a powerful statement of their cultural recognition. This is something that Black Americans recognize but not really because Black Americans are focused on their color and not their cultural ancestry from Africa.
The hope and action moving forward in time educate Black Americans on their African heritage, ancestry, and culture. The hope is to identify ourselves, write about ourselves, and love ourselves as Africans living in the USA.
What do ya’ll think about changing the word term “Afro” to “Afri”?
Comment below so we can discuss this.
To coordinate with the African Diaspora, using the prefix word “Afri” means a Person of African descent, People of African, born, and genetically African descent.
AfriEspiritu / AfriEsprit / AfriSpirit / AfriEspirito
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