I miss my college barber. You took a two minute stroll to his dorm room. You sat in the chair. You told him in one or two sentences what you wanted. He gave you a perfect hair cut.
Let me rephrase that. I miss my (black) barber.
At Prairie View A&M University, a historically black college just north of Houston, TX, everybody that cut hair could cut hair. And when I say cut hair, I mean a black man’s hair. Cutting a black man’s hair is like an art form.
In the 17 plus years that I have been out of college, I’ve had trouble finding a black barber.
Oh, they are out there. But mostly, in the black neighborhoods. Not in the neighborhoods I’ve lived in where the options are mostly SuperCuts or ProCuts. Its hit or (mostly) miss at these places.
If you are a black guy and want someone to shave all your hair off, they can do that. But anything else? A taper-fade? A tight edge up? You leavin‘ your hair to chance.
But I like the availability of these establishments. You’re in. You’re out. And you get on with the rest of your day. If I need to, I can handle clippers well enough to “patch up” at home any mistakes one of the Procuts people might make. (I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. I could have had my hair cut at one of these places illustrated in WallStreetFighter.com a few months back.)
Still, the last ProCuts person that cut my hair really did some damage, so I haven’t had a hair cut in about a month.
And it’s not like I want some crazy haircut with all kinds of parts and arrows. I just want a regular hair cut. Clean. Respectable. Every 10 days or so. And I could get one. But driving to the black neighborhood is so far out of the way. And when you get there, it’s always a long line, an hour-long wait sometimes. You gotta make an appointment or be the first guy at the door in the mornings. Standing in line for NBA playoff tickets isn’t that much harder.
At ProCuts or TGF Haircutters, they ask you what kind of guard to use (“A 2 or a 2 1/2 for the top?”). Look. Don’t ask me how to cut my hair. That’s why I’m paying you $13.95.
And the guards they use are almost always plastic. They press down real hard on your head for what they hope is an even cut. I always leave with a headache. At a black barbershop, they have these cool metal guards which cut your hair very fine. They don’t press down on your head. They go freehand. You can sometimes close your eyes and JUST KNOW that you are getting a good haircut by how the barber holds the clippers and the sound the clippers make.
(I’m not saying that these other places can’t cut hair. What I am saying: For a barber, it is probably easiest to cut hair like your own. I’d imagine the degree of difficulty for a black guy to cut a white or hispanic guy’s hair is also pretty high.)
My mixed-race 8-month old son, whose mother is hispanic, has, “good hair.” He won’t have these kind of barber problems when he gets older.
I wish the black barbershops were were on as many street corners as Starbucks.
I wish the ProCuts people employed more black barbers.
I wish I could cut my own hair.
I’m driving to the black neighborhood Saturday.