Barber Shop 101

by LaVerne N. Curtis

I've always considered myself a pretty intelligent sister. I've attended college, have lots of life experience, and make it a point to stay abreast of current events. With that being said, none of these things matter, or even take precedence, over the education I receive at the local Barber Shop.

In between the fades, temple tapers, and trash talking, there are opinions being shared, and truths being told. This is where the black man can be himself, and not put on any fronts. He's with his 'boys' and life is good. It is more going on here, much more. It is much more than cars, 20-inch rims, and "bling blinging." These men have concerns, and issues that they bring to the place of public opinion each week. Brothers descend on shops all across the country on a regular basis to bond, talk about the latest happenings in sports, and yes, compare notes on women. Men are very candid in this environment, and there are no holds barred.

I'm a single mom, so it is by default, that I take my son to get his haircut. Honestly, there was a time that I dreaded taking him. Between the profanity, and the way the brothers would look at me, as if I was the last biscuit on the plate, I felt uncomfortable. Once I got past that, I not only realized, but also honored, the fact that I was in the midst of our husbands, lovers, fathers, brothers, and uncles. I reconciled the direct ancestral link with the Barber Shop, and the way the brothers gathered there. It is the "meeting place." Our community is sitting in that shop. Their conversations range from politics to the state of the black family.

There is much talk about how insensitive the black man is, and how he isn't able to relate on a level in which he shows compassion. Well, maybe the world isn't capable of understanding his language. Or, could it be the world doesn't care to understand it? Whatever the case may be, during my visits, I am privy to more information than any textbook could ever offer. I have the inside track, and there is a comfort level that these brothers have with me in their presence.

One could argue that our future lies within the four walls of the Barber Shop. That is where dreams are spoken into fruition, advice is given, and guidance is offered. There is no age requirement, and the dress code is casual. It is the one place that the young man has the opportunity to converse with the elders.

With all the trips I've taken, the books I've read, and the experiences I've had, nothing quite compares to the lessons learned in Barber Shop 101.

Barber Shop 101 by LaVerne N. Curtis

© Copyright 2004. All rights reserved. No portion of this work may be duplicated or copied without the expressed written consent of the author.

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