Crowned as The Culture
Just like Black Baptist churches and Hip-Hop/Rap culture, black barbershops serve as a safe haven and a political structure that fuels liberators to resist America’s injustices and prejudices. The coolness birthed in these marginalized spaces ignites style, presentation, and innovation. From extraordinary church hats to precise high top fades with a crisp part, Black culture is crowned as THE CULTURE.
In black communities, the barbershop has also been a cultivated space for Black people to celebrate and embrace their sense of blackness all while escaping society’s false depictions of blackness and harsh challenges in their everyday lives.
Without a doubt, there are consequences to America’s corrupt racial construction, which has hindered the social and economic development of Black people. Yet our agency to create and our resilient spirits will forever overcome challenges, and this is one of the benefits of the Black experience.
We must shed light on cultural norms and perceptions that fulfills the vulnerable void in Black culture. The barbershop has taught us to challenge perspectives with confidence, and to not be afraid to resist ideas projected from our very own united Black brothers and sisters. Just as we do not compromise to let anyone and everyone cut our hair, we should not settle to accept what we do not believe in. Otherwise, Black people will not transform into their divine purposes.
The Chosen People Have Spoken
What resonates with you the most about the haircut process?
Destiny: I still remember walking into the barbershop with my head held high telling the barber “cut it all off”. He asked if I was sure and I nodded with so much confidence - it was the best decision I could have ever made for my career.
Kasheem: I went to the shoot looking Covid-Homeless and left out feeling God-like with a fresh cut and some portraits my mama might hang these moments on her wall.
Fredlyne: I savored the look in the mirror that day, I wanted to wrap it up in a bag and keep it forever!
Niara: I initially wanted to grow it out and be “natural” but after I saw myself with that dark caesar complimenting my cheekbones - it was a wrap! I had never felt and looked more beautiful. I started to tap into my womanhood all while honoring myself.
How would you define your relationship with your barber?
Jamaal: I would define my relationship with my barber as supportive brotherhood that mirrors growth and loyalty. We trust one another in addition to our similar outlook on life.
Destiny: I have been going around the corner to the same barbershop for almost 3 years. Depending on who is available, either of 3 different Jamaican men cut my hair. Now it's like a home, I do not go anywhere else.
Niara: My relationship with my barber(s) is similar to a younger sister and older brother relationship. My barbers have their own unique personalities. And I know who to call when I need help.
What is your most memorable moment or conversation you have experienced in a barbershop?
Niara: We were sharing each of our perspectives in the shop. Of course, idle ears in the neighboring chairs were listening. Then it turned into the local Black Caucus of barbers real quick! Jokes aside, my mind broadened that day as I thought of other women who are frequently in the barbershop.
It felt like we were a niche.
Will: One day I was waiting for my haircut and the client in the chair was feeling depressed. My barber uplifted him and spoke to reassure a sense of vulnerability amongst Black men. By the time he was finished getting his new look he felt great.
There is nothing comparable. There is always something that elevates an individual in a collective setting like church. But there is nothing that can compare to being in a setting where ideas can be exchanged amongst like-minded people to walk away mentally and physically renewed.
Writer: Melquan Ganzy
Omar J. Thomas
With special thanks to FXCKYOURBRAND®️, One of One, Ouigi Theodore, and The Brooklyn Circus