Hair salons have been a safe space for Black women for decades, even through COVID : NPR

Robert Hundley

Hair salons have extensive been a harmless area for Black females. And that would not appear to be to have altered inspite of all the havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic.


We’re likely to spend a few minutes speaking about some particular sites for quite a few of us, areas the place even if you happen to be new to a city, you promptly experience at dwelling – risk-free even. For NPR’s Taylor Jennings-Brown, that’s the hair salon.

TAYLOR JENNINGS-BROWN, BYLINE: I grew up going to hair salons like clockwork, no matter whether that was someone’s makeshift kitchen salon or my mom’s friend’s store throughout city. For decades, hair salons have been a protected house for Black women of all ages. You happen to be surrounded by females who glance like you and realize you. For many gals of colour, it is really the one particular spot we can just chill and be ourselves – no judgment. So you can picture, when I moved from North Carolina to Maryland, I was pressed to uncover as a lot of of these types of safe and sound areas as doable. And the minute I stepped into Salon 2Five8…


Unidentified Man or woman #1: Hi there. How are you?

Unknown Human being #2: Hello.

JENNINGS-BROWN: …I obtained just that.

DEVETA WILLIAMS: My title is DeVeta, and I am from Greenbelt, Md.

JENNINGS-BROWN: DeVeta Williams is a hairstylist and the co-operator of Salon 2Five8 with her company companion, Tierra Nash.

TIERRA NASH: My title is Tierra Nash. I’m from Oxon Hill, Md.

JENNINGS-BROWN: While a lot of enterprises had to shut their doorways since of COVID, they really just opened up in August, which Nash admits…

NASH: It was a possibility, but it was also – this was the time that it labored out. So I do not know if it is mainly because it was a pandemic heading on and the area was empty, but it labored out for us.

JENNINGS-BROWN: And just to be very clear – absolutely everyone below is masked up and socially distanced.


JENNINGS-BROWN: Nash and Williams both recall comparable ordeals of becoming in hair salons through not only their childhood but their entire lives.

WILLIAMS: I grew up in a hair salon. I am a store little one.

JENNINGS-BROWN: I’d never ever listened to of a store toddler right before, but now that I believe about it, I know a handful of shop infants again home.

WILLIAMS: All of my everyday living, I had hardly ever had no position. I have generally been in the hair salon when I was in – like, I have hardly ever labored anywhere but the hair salon. When I was 11, I was a shampoo assistant for my aunt. So I have been in the salon, like, all of my daily life.

JENNINGS-BROWN: Her mom also worked in a salon, so she truly is a shop little one. And Nash agrees. She shares a person of her earliest memories with her cousin in her very own aunt’s hair salon.

NASH: Maybe when I was about 7, she used to do the job at the retailers downtown. She employed to get us to function with her, and we acquired dropped in the shops, and we acquired tore up (laughter) when she located us. So that is most likely the earliest memory.

JENNINGS-BROWN: One particular of Williams’ customers, Courtney Porter, is in the store acquiring her regular lower and curl.


JENNINGS-BROWN: Although she’s beneath the hair dryer, she talks about what staying at the salon indicates to her.

COURTNEY PORTER: You have your unique days. So you go to the salon each single, let’s say, Wednesday, so you know your Wednesday crew. So the local community of staying in a hair salon is, like, possibly just one of the improved matters that us, as Black ladies, can really be a section of.

JENNINGS-BROWN: The enthusiasm Nash and Williams have for their salon reminds me a great deal of my hairstylist growing up. They all consider so a great deal pride in their get the job done. The salon is like a second dwelling. And Williams’ clippers are like an extension of her human body, her individual type of therapy.


WILLIAMS: I am right here a lot more than I am at property. It is my muse. I enjoy almost everything about it. When I am obtaining a negative working day, I might rather be in right here chopping. So it is not perform to me. It is really a thing – it really is a passion I have. It’s anything I like to do.

JENNINGS-BROWN: Hair salons are a crucial section of the Black group. And even while a whole lot of matters seem to be like they’ve improved permanently given that COVID, I have a potent sensation that this tradition is secure. You appear to get your hair finished, but you depart with so a great deal much more – a sense of belonging and getting recognized. And that is the legitimate magic of a day at the salon.

Taylor Jennings-Brown, NPR Information.


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