Faith Amour Hair Care

FroHawk

Posted on: October 17, 2011


Written in the Washington Post by Teresa Wiltz

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The fro-hawk has been in, and out, and in again, but right now, in the waning days of summer, it’s enjoying a certain renaissance.
See it doing a low-rise fade on Redman as he bounces onstage with the Wu-Tang Clan recently at the “Rock the Bells” rap tour. Or check it out, in all its glamour-girl glory, on Jack Davey, from the Los Angeles electronica duo J*Davey.

And stalk the gallery at Afropunk.com, the online community that sprang up in the wake of filmmaker James Spooner’s 2003 documentary of the same name, and you’ll encounter a bevy of fro-hawked folk who go by such monikers as AfrocousticPunk and Aunaturale22.

To be black and Mohawked — or fro-hawked — is to rage against both the machine and one’s own community, a double dose of in-your-face outsiderism.
“I wanted to be the ultimate rebel,” says New York artist/musician/indie label owner M.J. Zilla, who cut her waist-length dreads a couple of years back in favor of a flat-top/fro-hawk hybrid. “What better way to do it than to do the Mohawk? Socially, I’m making that statement: I’m definitely not going to conform any more …

“It’s a symbol, a visual reference. They can say, ‘Oh yeah, we knew she’s trouble.’ ”

Consider the Mohawk, circa 1979, straight tresses shellacked into submission and directed upward, standing out against an expanse of shaved scalp. It provided instant identification with outrage and rebel status, with punk music and the culture that sprang up around it.

Then consider today’s fro-hawk, kinked out or dreadlocked tresses directed upward, marching across the shorn pates of those of African descent. Think about Fishbone, rocking it out in the late ’80s, blending punk, funk, ska, rap and metal. (But please, don’t think about Mr. T.)

It’s just hair, some folks like to say. No, it’s not — it’s never just hair, certainly when you are African and American. The personal tends to dance with the political.
Why now? Part of it is the inevitable swing back to ’80s-inspired duds — the preoccupation with skinny jeans and leather jackets, stiletto booties and neon brights. Perhaps it’s a response to hard economic times, to widespread layoffs and the fear that accompanies them, a giant nose-thumb to the idea that to work in corporate America, you’ve got to look a certain way.

“It’s like, ‘You don’t have a job, do you?’ ” says Melvin Collins, a 34-year-old stylist, laughing.

Collins says he was never a follower. He was a brother who wore skinny Levi’s 501s in a sea of baggies that slid south.

Just don’t call it a fro-hawk.

“It’s not a fro-hawk, it’s a Mohawk,” Collins says. “We just put a twist to it.”
Says his buddy Tim Slayton, 26, a visual artist who rocks a locked Mohawk, “Just because I’m a black guy with a Mohawk doesn’t mean that it should be called ‘fro-hawk.’ ”

“It’s a little racist,” Collins says.
There are others who embrace the word. Fro-hawk, they say, is specific to a hair texture, a people, an attitude.

“I think it’s descriptive,” says Zilla, for whom the hairstyle is at once an homage to her Afro/Sioux/Blackfoot roots and a sign of affiliation with the 21st Century Maroon Colony, a black arts collective.

“It is what it is. There is a difference to me between a person of color who wears a fro-hawk and white person who wears a Mohawk.”

And then there are those — like Damon Locks (yes, that’s his real name), a 39-year-old veteran of the punk scene — who draw a distinction between the fro-hawk and the Mohawk’s ’80s-era punk roots. And not in a good way.

“I’m not a fan of the fro-hawk,” says Locks, who first Mohawked his hair in ’83 as a teenager. The Mohawk, he says, always had an agitating element. On the other hand, the fro-hawk, he says, “is not only soft and fluffy, it’s kind of trendy and not agitating, really — it’s more like a popular haircut.” Even toddlers and tweens can be spotted sporting it.

“It’s strange, [nearly] 30 years later, to see it as a fashion statement,” says Locks, who appears in “Afropunk.” “I see it taken on by black kids that want to express themselves and show that they’re different. …

“It has almost nothing to do with punk today,” continues Locks, who now alternates between a big curly ‘fro and hacked off. “It’s clearly a stylistic choice and devoid of any potency, and that’s kind of upsetting. Now it’s lost its vigor. Its objective from the get-go was to make a point.”

Don’t even get him started on the faux-hawk: Ricky Martin. “American Idol’s” Sanjaya Malakar. Patti Labelle. Celebs who sport full heads of hair gelled and manhandled until it reaches skyward, toe-dipping in the waters of rebellion. A good strong shampoo, and it’s gone. A true Mohawk, its fans say, requires commitment. A willingness to expose scalp.

“If you’re gonna do it, just do it right,” says Spooner of “Afropunk,” who abandoned the Mohawk/fro-hawk years ago. “When you see somebody who has two inches of hair and they’ve only shaved two inches off the side, it looks so lame. …

“If you’re going to do it, do it. Otherwise, you just look like a poser.”

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