A Cutting Edge Experience: Black Barbershops


The barber’s chair is symbolic of the platform in which clients and customers converse about recent events and current issues. http://www.allthingsmw.com/blackbarbershop/

Black barbershops have been and continue to function as common meeting spaces that allow community members to come to be catered to as well as entertained and informed. Multiple films have been made to represent the true black barbershop experience. Barbershops are great sources for information and conversation.

The above photograph is simply a token of the true barbershop experience. We see the barber doing his task while engaging in conversation with his customer. Not only is precision put into account of the man’s “shape-up”, but also into the valued customer experience. Moments of male bonding occur in these chairs and this ensures customer satisfaction, self-confidence and a returning client. In the background, we are able to see the men waiting for their “spin in the chair” and engaging in conversation.

I started getting my haircuts by a professional barber at the age of 4. My father and I would ride to the best black barbershop in town, also owned by my cousin, on every other Saturday morning. At such a young age, I was able to see the true workings behind the black barbershop experience. Black barbershops, in my opinion, function as refuges for the common worker during lunch breaks, the official haircut stop for prom or wedding preparation, and as unofficial therapy sessions with your barber. While in the chair, it is common to hear about everything from high gas prices to presidential elections and reparations to welfare court cases. Because of the community effort, the barbershop experience is one to be valued highly. Black barbershops, in my opinion, have the exact same affect that beauty parlors have on women.

I believe that is safe to say that conversations and actions play a very prominent role within the black barbershop community. Getting Barack Obama elected twice and getting justice for Trayvon Martin was and still is a reaction and response to some of the early dialogue that took place within this type of community setting.

In The Cotillion or One Good Bull Is Half The Herd by John Oliver Killens, one of the main characters, Matthew, has a prominent scene within the black barbershop. In this scene, we are able to get a highly realistic viewpoint of the shop. In one selection, the book reads…

 “The palace (barbershop) always did a swinging business, as was to be expected. Your six bits not only got you a haircut, but you also got goo-gobs of philosophical conversation in the bargain. Soul talk, baby brother. And no cover charge. The buzzing of electric clippers, the talk that went on and on and on from one subject to another.”


Another interesting and quick read is found in this blog post entitled My Mind on Paper: The Black Barbershop: A Slice of Culture. http://mymindonpaper.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/the-black-barbershop-a-slice-of-culture/


Furthermore, black barbershops are legitimate sources of daily events and issues, regardless of the topic. Many clients and shop owners learn from each other through conversation, personal experiences and adversities. The depictions of shops on television, in novels and on big screens only serve as a microcosm for actually being there, getting the experience and walking out tapered, informed and with intentions of a return.

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“My Mind on Paper.” My Mind on Paper. N.p., 7 Aug. 2009. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://mymindonpaper.wordpress.com/2011/03/28/the-bucket-race-and-racial-identity/&gt;.

Williams, Martin. “The Black Barbershop: Continuing To Thrive.” All Things MW. N.p., 18 June 2012. Web. 19 Mar. 2013. <http://www.allthingsmw.com/blackbarbershop/&gt;.