Ok @squeakie…I was pretty stoked on you fighting through the kind of insanity of all the blocks you have been facing in this free barbershop/talking stuff, and I really think Carol is right about maybe right now it’d be super helpful just to talk with people who might be able to share some more insight on how to go about doing this. So I just found a couple things online and wanted to bring two people to your attention, in case you haven’t heard of them. I wonder if they’d get back to you if you emailed them–what the heck! Why not?
Professor Quincy T. Mills, Vassar College in New York
He wrote a book within the last year called Cutting Along the Color Line (you can order it from Amazon here) which is basically a history of black barbering in the United States.
Here are a few interviews he’s done since publishing (easy to listen to in about 45 minutes or split it up for whenever):
This one on NPR Marketplace is short and surface
This one from NewsOne is about seven minutes and digs a little deeper
This one from the Leonard Lopate show is the longest (15 minutes) and is very well-rounded
- This transcript of a radio interview Mills did on the Kojo Nnamdi Show is helpful if you want to read it
Professor Melissa Harris-Perry, Wake Forest University in North Carolina
She wrote a book called Barbershops, Bibles, and B.E.T: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought (you can order it here from Amazon). I saw a table of contents for the book online and it seems like one chapter in there is extremely relevant, and it’s the one she and Mills wrote together.
- An article from Collectors Weekly, called “Straight Razors and Social Justice,” is fairly lengthy but gives a good history of barbering in the US (which you seem to know about anyway) but also gives some summary of Prof. Harris-Perry’s book.
I don’t think either of these authors are writing about things that are new to you, but it seems like there just wasn’t anything published about the topic until they started really digging in. Plus, I also found a lot of talk about barbershops and the threats to them from emerging technology (staring at iPads instead of talking, making appointments instead of waiting in the shop), the finances it takes to start and continue operating a shop, and shops as places of community health outreach (diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, prostate, condoms).
But I didn’t see anything about tapping into the healing and restorative and honest power of good talk that can “help legalize young kids lives” as you said today.
This is good news for you, I think, because it seems to mean that you’re one of the first people really thinking about barber shops like this, in this light and in this way. That’s why I think you’d really find a huge amount of support pretty much as soon as you talk with people about this.