The return of the Afro

In cities across North America, young blacks are turning on to a hairstyle last seen in the days of The Jackson Five, reported CanWest News Service from Montreal June 3. They’re wearing Afros — big, bold, often with giant plastic combs as ornamentation. Katherine McKittrick, a PhD candidate in York’s Women’s Studies, Faculty of Arts, provided historical perspective; her master’s thesis was titled “Becoming beautiful, becoming real: examining the complexities of black women and hair/style politics.” The Afro was initially a symbol of black pride, she noted. For years leading up to the 1960s, many blacks in the US frowned upon naturally curly black hair, and used hot irons and lye to straighten it. Many did it from economic necessity, said McKittrick, explaining that straight hair was considered “less black” and therefore more acceptable to white employers. But in the 1960s, the “Black is Beautiful” movement encouraged blacks to celebrate their natural looks, and radicals such as Angela Davis wore huge Afros. After a few years, though, many blacks saw the symbol of black pride become a symbol for an emerging fashion industry. “It became attached to capitalism, a way to make money,” said McKittrick. She and others said that much of the early symbolism of Afros has disappeared now, though the ideas behind “Black is Beautiful” have not disappeared altogether.

York prof shares $10,000 award for investment paper

Despite their generous tax credits, hefty management fees on labour-sponsored venture capital funds makes them lousy investments, according to a paper co-authored by Yisong Tian, finance professor at York’s Schulich School of Business, and Scott Anderson, professor at Ryerson. For their research, Tian and Anderson are sharing a $10,000 award from Barclays Global Investments Canada Ltd., reported the Financial Post June 3. The professors wrote a winning paper which buttresses the Barclays business model – based on low-cost, passively managed, exchange traded funds, noted the Post. The paper, “Incentive Fees, Valuation and Performance of Labour Sponsored Investment Funds,” skewers the notion that the inferior performance of LSIFs is compensated by tax credits of 30 per cent in many provinces. Not only have LSIFs underperformed other investment funds, but they’ve also been beaten by the market indexes, states the article.

On Air

  • Professor and physician Joel Lexchin, School of Health Policy & Management, Atkinson Faculty of Liberal and Professional Studies, says drug studies funded by drug companies are more likely to have positive results. Lexchin was interviewed by “Global News” (CIII-TV) May 30 about a study he co-authored and whose results are published in the current British Medical Journal. He said the systematic bias in drug testing is a serious problem as an increasing number of clinical trials at all stages in a product’s life cycle are funded by the pharmaceutical industry.