Lack of black hair salons inspires young stylists
November 19, 2019
Curls, braids and fades.
Hair is very significant in the black community. With the lack of barber and hair salons in Campustown that cater to black hair, black students have created their resources.
“I learned how to cut hair just by doing,” said Christian McKinney, junior in AHS. “I cut hair for free in my bathroom freshman year, and I messed some people up, got better. I’m not cutting hair for free anymore.”
When McKinney isn’t in class, he cuts hair. After experiencing a bad haircut at a local barbershop on campus, he decided to learn how to cut his hair. Now, McKinney says he believes he contributes to the hair community on campus.
“I hope this doesn’t come off arrogant, but I think they come to me because I’m one of the best barbers in the area, not just cutting hair-wise, but just the comfort that they have sitting in the chair of another person of color and the environment that allows them to have to de-stress after a long week or a long day,” he said. “Whatever they’re going through, they can talk to me about it by getting cleaned up and feeling like a new person when they leave the chair.”
But McKinney isn’t the only self-taught hairstylist on campus. Anita Gomez, a 2016 University alumna, has been doing hair since 2015, and she specializes in natural hair and braids while creating a comfortable hair environment on campus.
“I feel like it’s important for them to have a place to get their hair done,” Gomez said. “We get sent off from Chicago — we’re so used to getting our hair done in Chicago — we’re so used to having access to those things in Chicago, and then, we get sent two hours away from home, and we’re on our own, and it’s like, ‘Okay, what do I do now?’ I think that having that space brings a sense of familiarity.”
Other students who don’t have the convenience of having a hairstylist on campus have a different hair routine.
“I had a friend who went to one of the salons on campus and they said they could do black girls hair but they ended up messing her hair up, so that really pushed me back from any salon campus,” said Ro Phillips Clark, “I’d rather just go home if I really wanna get my hair done by a salon.”