When the epidemic started to hit, joked began swirling that sistas were going to be acting a fool and having to show their true selves when our hair and nail salons eventually shut down.
On social media, so many fellas swore up and down that this here ‘Rona was gonna “expose” our real uncontoured noses, natural hair and unwaxed upper lips and hoohahs and bring them into the light for everyone (quarantined with you) to see. Look, maybe there is a little truth to that, especially for those who keep a standing appointment for blowouts, Brazilians or bantu knots; or fill-ins, facials or false lashes. You definitely may be feeling a little naked out there in these self-distancing streets.
But what I also know is that these same dudes who were trying to be funny didn’t fathom that the Black barbershop—their very own beloved safe-haven, the sanctity of all smooth line-ups and the only place their frail egos can go to get their face steamed and not feel “girly”— would end up on the chopping block too.
But it did, because come last Friday in states such as New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Illinois and Ohio, that shutdown happened and sadly, unlike grocery stores, bodegas or depending on which state you live in, marijuana dispensaries, they weren’t looked at as being an essential business.
Brothas were definitely in their feelings about it all.
But, all jokes aside, we understand just how important barbershops are in our community. They aren’t just about a fresh fade and a place to talk s**t with another brotha’. Many barbershops are “pivotal spaces for Black culture,” Newsone’s Royce Dunmore recently wrote. They can also be places to get much-needed health information from HIV to high blood pressure. Most importantly, they are a place where traditional Black entrepreneurship thrives. But for now, with barbers worried that not cutting hair means “we don’t eat” and the president’s shaky-at-best stimulus plan that looks to help the rich rather than small businesses, the future isn’t clear.
While folks hope we can return to a place where social-distancing and the fear of close human contact will be a thing of a past, given that Governor Andrew Cuomo recently told New Yorkers this pandemic could be a reality until early 2021, that may not happen anytime soon.
So, until then, trust and believe, our Kings and their hairlines are quite shaken: