Whatever your beliefs about the cohesion (or lack thereof) of “Black” America* , one thing that binds us together is our hair. That’s right, our hair. I’ve talked with lots of Black men and women about this topic and no matter where folks are from, how old they are, how much money they earn, whether they have a weave, a natural hairstyle, a relaxed do, bald head or fade, we are all in search of the perfect hair salon or barbershop. If we’re blessed enough to find a place we like (love), we are worried that the stylist is going to leave and then we’ll be back on that search again.
I had to recently go on the hunt for a good stylist. I have locs that are to the middle of my back and people who know me often say, “Girl, you have a LOT of hair”. I do. I can do it myself but it takes about 5-7 hours. Therefore, I NEED a good stylist. The search was prompted because my family and I recently moved to the suburbs of Boston, MA from New York. In New York, a wonderful loctitian came to my house to do my hair. She was a talented loctitian who nurtured my hair and crafted it into beautiful, woven updos. I miss her!
When we moved to the Boston area, I was concerned with normal moving issues, like would our children adjust to their new schools, would my husband and I excel at our new jobs, would we like our house and neighbors, you know, the typical stuff. In addition to these concerns, I scanned my neighborhood and thought, “Where in the world am I going to get my hair done?” I mean, a visit to the local drug store revealed that the shelves had NO ethnic hair care products. No gel, no sheen, no oil, no grease, no shampoo that wouldn’t completely dry out my hair, nothing. I guess this is because our area is basically a lily-white town. According to Wikipedia, based on a 2007 Census Bureau estimate there are 85% Whites, 10% Asian, and the remaining 5% is comprised of Blacks (2.2%), while Hispanics or Latinos of any race were 3.4% of the population.
When I moved here, I had no idea of the journey that was ahead of me. The real journey began when I got that first relaxer as a little girl.
*I just finished reading Eugene Robinson's book, "Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America". It is a great read and should start some wonderful conversations.