I Got My Hair Cut at the Black Barber Shop

I couldn’t be much whiter. For example, I get my hair cut at Great Clips. For another, I do my best to pretend that I’m not the least bit racist.

My wife, Miss Sally, and I were surprised one Saturday morning when we pulled up to the local Great Clips and it was shut down. I really needed a haircut and remembered a barber shop around the corner in the strip mall, so we drove over there. I knew it had to be a barber shop because it said, “Donnie's Barber Salon” on the sign and there was a barber pole spinning thing on the outside. You can’t go wrong with the spinning blue, red and white pole.

We walked in and immediately noticed the lack of whiteness. The barber was black. The customer in the chair was black. The guy hanging out and reading a magazine in the other barber chair was black. We were getting paler by the second.

The magazine guy in the chair took one look at us and stood up. He apologized, “I don’t cut hair,” and sat in one of the waiting chairs. The barber said hello. I asked if I could get a haircut and he said yes. We sat down.

I made the decision not to leave. My instincts told me to leave, but I told my instincts to stuff it. I wasn’t going to let my ignorance get the better of me. I shouldn’t be worried about a hair cut from a black man. The guy was a barber and barbers cut hair. Hair is hair, right?

The Vibe magazine I picked up was at least six months old. I pretended to be interested in an article about P.Diddy. Miss Sally excused herself and went around the corner to the Rite-Aid.

Holy shit if cutting black guy’s hair doesn’t take forever. The barber was detailing the customer’s head with a determined precision. I think at one point he used a protractor to get top just so. This barber was good.

I had a Caucasian sigh of relief when another white guy walked in. He was a big dude with a definite brother charm. The guys in the barber shop warmly welcomed him. The not-barber stood up and gave the white guy a hand grasp which was then used as a man shield to fill the void between them when they did a quick hug. The white dude asked if he could get cleaned up. The man who wasn’t a barber suddenly remembered that he was actually a barber and had the guy sit in the second chair. I was just about to be offended when the amnesia struck, now a barber, black guy pulled out the clippers and took white guy’s hair down a sandpaper thickness with a few quick passes over his scalp. It was a shearing, not a haircut.

White guy left and I waited.

The barber finally finished up with his customer and called me over. I sat down in the chair and the barber asked me how I wanted to get my hair cut. I told him the standard, “#4 on the sides and scissor cut on top. I like to part my hair.” What happened next was a hair cut that can only be compared to the awkwardness of a one fingered teenage boy trying to open a bra for the first time. The barber got out his scissors and started cutting my hair on top first. This was new to me. The chicks at Great Clips use the trimmer first on the sides and then move to the scissors. There was a lot of clipping and pausing and more clipping. Of course, I wasn’t going to say anything. This guy was a barber. A professional.

At one point the barber moved around to the front and I noticed his hands. His hands were covered with hairs. Other men’s hairs. What looked to be the hair from 1,000 men. Little tiny bits of straight and curly black hairs. I think my white guy hair was repelled from his skin because there were none to be found.

Miss Sally returned to the barbershop with her purchases and sat down. I think she was amazed that I was still there. She had been gone about forty five minutes. She, too, feigned interest in P.Diddy.

The clippers came out, but only for a minute and then back to the scissoring. He started to get exasperated, combing my hair over and cutting. Stopping. Staring. Tentative cutting again. I finally stopped him and said, “That’s good. That’s fine.” The barber literally shrugged his shoulders and mumbled what sounded like an apology. I waited for him to remove the hair cloak from my neck when there was a clink of a bottle and two man hands rubbing my hair. I hadn’t asked for gel, but just wanted to get out of there and… wait… what’s that smell? Coconut? I reached up and felt my hair… it was oily and coconutty. Barber put coconut oily something in my hair. I’m not sure what the product is supposed to do, but if the bottle said “Pisses Off White Boys” then shit, it was working.

I stood up and looked in the mirror. I looked like a wet dog with a bad haircut. I paid him. He gave back my change and I held out $5 for a tip. He said, “No. You don’t have to.” I gritted a smile and said, “No, take it.” He did. We left.

I steamed silently the entire ride back home. Oily something dripped down my neck. I showered as soon as I stomped in the house. Small black hairs flecked the shower floor. We drove to the Great Clips across town. The lady asked if I had tried to cut my own hair.

Perhaps I should have better communicated with the barber about my concerns or directed him on how I wanted my hair cut. Or maybe he should have told me that he didn't cut white people hair. Neither one of us wanted to offend the other. Both of us ended up feeling foolish. Though I was the only one who looked foolish.

116 comments:

Anonymous said...

you asked for a haircut, he gave you a haircut. have you seen many white barbers than can cut a black man's hair?

Doug said...

I wouldn't call it a hair cut. He cut my hair.

And no, think you have to be trained or have a lot of experience cutting black guys hair. I just thought that if you can cut a black guy's hair, white guys hair should not be a problem... I was wrong.

Anonymous said...

Hahahahahahaha!

This completely mirrors my experiece, me being black and the barber being white.

I had just moved to Canada to a average size University town. I had no idea where to find a barber, I like my hair short, to give me a hair cut, so I went to the mall.....

If one changes white to black and vice versa in your story, one will get my story.

Anonymous said...

Go to the drug store and look at the "ethnic" hair care section. Think to yourself: are these problems I have with my hair?
Black peoples hair is just a way different ball game. You were wrong- the one barber was smart enough to refuse to try to cut your hair, not because hes a racist, just because yours doesnt curl.

Anonymous said...

White people usually don't know this, but black hair and white hair are different. The barber probably wasn't used to cutting white hair.

Anonymous said...

You have just learned the difference between a barber and a hairstylist.

I too learned this lesson the hard way. The barber shop was close by and I only wanted to get my bangs trimmed. So what does the barber do (for context to the main post; my barber was white), he combs my bangs down and cuts them straight across above my browline. Before I realized what just happened, I had a permanently attached helmet.

From that day on I found a hairstylist I liked and stuck with her, even when she changed shops (and stayed semi-local).

So, find a good local shop with a hairstylelist you like, stick with her, and tip her well. The Super-Cuts or Quick-Clip chains usually don't cut it. They tend to hire less-experienced stylists for cheap.

Anonymous said...

On one hand it's nice that you had a new experience, the fact that you wrote about this in length tells me that you don't deal with black people and others likely very often. However it's sad that you were enraged for venturing "off base". I think it goes without saying that if you're going to a black barber and it's specifically a predominantly black barber, then they won't know what to do with your hair. They don't do these comb over styles, etc... Black hair is very different. Maybe the barber was embarassed to tell you he didn't really know what to do, and on the other hand you should've sort of known this if you had any experiences with people of other ethnicities in your life.

The oils are used for moisturizing afro hair, I don't know why "coconut" is enraging to you? That makes it sound like you went there with somewhat closed mindset. You went to a black barber expecting your usual "white barber experience", and were upset at them not being able to provide it.

Anonymous said...

I stay away from any barbershop - white or black - because every barber has fucked up my hair.

Hair stylists seem to be the only ones who understand my hair (it's extra thick with a touch of poofiness)

Sleepy Scott said...

Wow! Lots of anonymous comments. That is never a good sign.

I probably would have bailed on the barbershop, so according to anonymous #6, I must really be a racist.

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are a racist if you had a bad experience at a black barber shop, it's just different that's all, different environment different hair, I think it's awesome you tried something new and now you have a very funny story to tell (minus the enraged part perhaps) I got a kick out of it!

Arunan said...

Funny! My preference is the reverse of yours.

I am from India, I have thinner, straight black hair and I part it. I cannot stand the hair cut at 'Great Clips'. I've always sought out a real barber and found that they do the job best.
(Though, my current barber is white.)

Anonymous said...

My wife cuts my hair.

John said...

i cut my hair

Anonymous said...

I hve gotten my hair cut at a black barber for 15 years and I am a whitey. I didn't start with scissor cuts. I got skin tight fades. As the years went on I started going to a multi race barbershop. Spanish and white guys would cut black hair and vise versa. I found out they could all use scissors. so now it's all good. I get a nice cut and the work with the clippers is quality. I've tried some of those strip mall cheap cuts buy the girls can't use clippers to save their life. I would walk out of the place with a big line on my head between where the clippers stopped and the scissors began.

Shaun said...

I enjoyed this piece. I like personal narratives, plus I can relate to the process of having to find a new barber/stylist. You're a good writer -- keep it up!

Kaa said...

I also had a similar situation. I'm extremely white. So white I practically glow in the dark. And my regular barber (not Great Clips, but Master Barber, which is almost as white) was closed, and I went into one around the corner and lo! it was a "black barber shop."

Only...there were four barbers. And about 20 black men waiting for cuts. I muttered something about not wanting to wait that long and high-tailed it out.

I figure everyone in there thought I was a racist. But the truth was, I was just in a really huge hurry. I'm glad, though, having read your account, that I didn't stay in some goofy "white-guy" attempt to prove my non-racist street-cred. I don't have a lot of hair, but what I have, I like cut right. :)

Kaa said...

Oh, and I should add: my current barber is a Korean dude named Daniel that I have never had to tell how to cut my hair. He just knew. From the get-go. It was weird. I sat down, he started cutting, and I thought, "What the hell?" If worst comes to worst, I can shave my head and start over. But it was the best haircut I've ever had. So I go back to him every time. :)

Anonymous said...

Black barbers are most adept at using clippers, which are great for fades and detailed styling. If you wanted a #1 on the sides faded into a #2 on top you would have been golden. If you wanted a haircut like the other white guy you saw they could have done it. But you asked for a scissor cut styling and that is not what they do.
And that coconut product is meant for black hair. Black hair dries out easily and it needs a lot of moisture and care.
There's nothing racist about any of this. You just go to the right place for what you want. If you wanted to get your hair textured and colored you would go to a salon. Just stick to Great Clips, home slice.

Anonymous said...

Thats funny. I had nearly the same experience. I walked in to this barber shop and had no idea it was pretty much an all brotha shop. There was no way I was gonna turn around and walk out after I realized my lack consideration (being as white as the new fallen snow myself) I sat down, waited my turn. Told the barber I wanted a short fade on the sides, longer on top, no part. Unlike you, my cut turned out awesome.

Smail said...

Should've asked for "The Eric"... there's no screwing that one up.

Gilly Tha Kid said...

I once got ringworm whilst patronizing such a barber shop.

Hosting Guy said...

I'm white and I almost always go to black barbers. If you had asked for a fade, you probably would have gotten the best haircut of your life. I have a feeling that this particular barber just wasn't familiar or experienced with the particular look that you were hoping for.

Travis said...

I'm a white barber. (Hairstylists are just barbers who want to be paid more and maybe learned some impressive techniques that don't do a better job. Some who graduated from barber school with me called themselves hairstylists, some didn't.) I cut the hair of whites and blacks. Yeah, the jobs are different, and being skilled at one doesn't mean you can handle the other without learning; I basically had to learn two different and wide-ranging skill sets.
(For the record, I quit styling hair and moved to a better-paying career and unintentionally let my license expire. So it goes.)
Anyway, Doug (if I'm following this right), if I were you, next time I needed a haircut, I'd go back to the same guy just to see if I could pull off making it an OK experience for both of us. Give it a try.

Steph said...

My friend took me to an 'ethnic salon' (as she referred to it - she's black, I'm white) to get my hair conditioned while she got hers straightened. Damned if we weren't there for 4 freaking hours. They did a good job, but the place was a dump, I was the only white person there and felt VERY unwanted, and they kept cans of olive oil everywhere to spray on people's hair. I always preferred it in cooking - not on my head.

Anonymous said...

I will cut your hair..hee hee.
Renee
( just so I wont be another anonymous in the crowd)
No really I cut hair..My ex still begs me and sometimes I give in after seeing how he is butchered in some shops...and I dont want to be embarassed by my ex and his bad cuts ya know.

The Snob said...

i keep wanting to go to a braiding salon and get my hair done, but then i have flashbacks to juliette lewis at the 92 oscars. but hey, she did date brad pitt, so what do i know?

Carpanza said...

We need pictures....

Anonymous said...

Doug, you sound bitter.

Anonymous said...

Anytime you have to ask "Do you cut white people's hair?", then you should NOT get your hair cut.

I was in Zimbabwe in 2001, and asked this question to a baber. BIG MISTAKE. He tried, but it was the worst hair cut you could get, and it was not his fault. He tried. I was just a dumb, white tourist.

PS: I can NOT believe you don't have a picture.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe this. This is an outrage. I simply cannot understand what I am reading. Doug you are untterly and completely out of line on this one.

I mean a $5 tip?! That is unreal.

Lorrie said...

Another really funny post! I have to say that I'm annoyed with some of your commenters, though. People get so F-ing uptight about race issues these days, when it's plain as day to me that you were humorous about the topic. Some people are so hung up on black/white that they can't take a minute, pull their wadded-up panties out of their asses and just...LAUGH.

Anonymous said...

Common sense should have told you that if you wanted some lame mullet type scissor cut then you better not go to a "barber" which are known for short clipper cuts, fades, and blowouts.

Great Clips sucks and the employees there are usually rookies fresh out of school or someone not good enough to get into a high end hair studio, you make it sound like Great Clips is some great salon, hilarious.

cville434 said...

At the barber shop i go to they cut Black dudes, white dudes, hispanics, whatever.. So I guess if you live in a community where there is a big mix of people the barbers are more versatile.

Anonymous said...

i have been a Master Barber for more than 15 years and i can only tell you that if you think you can get a bettr haircut at a Great Clips then you should go back there. There are two kinds of people. People who go to Great Clips and the like. Then there are the rest of us normal people who can relate to the barber/stylist what you desire in a haircut.By the way if came into my shop and told me you wanted #4 on the sides and scissors on top i would ask you not to limit the tools that i am trained to use and my ability to give you a great haircut.no really i would ask you if you told that to the girl at Great clips cause everybody can tell when you pay for a homecut..

Doug said...

I see they don't teach grammar at the hair cutting school.

Listen, I like #4 on the sides and scissor cut on top. If you can't deal with that, then kick me out of your shop. I'll take my $13 elsewhere.

And by the way, besides scissors and clippers, what other tools are you using? Nun chucks? Barb wire? I want a hair cut, not a three ring circus act.

Anonymous said...

This was a pretty funny story. Pictures would of set this viral. I also had the opposite experience. Black man and I take my butt to the local Great Clips that opened in my neighborhood. I should of ran when the lady washed my hair and then cut it with some scissors.

Like you I was to freaked out to say anything and was trying to be polite. The worse thing is that she either pretended or really thought she was doing a good job.

The funny thing is as soon as I walked in the house, my girlfriend said, what happened to your hair? I thought you were going to get a haircut. LMAO! That was an expensive experience, this was back in the day and my Great Clips cost me 20 or 25 bucks and then I had to turn around (after my hair dried) drive my butt to the hood, like I should of done in the first place and paid my regular barber - his $8 bucks and ended up giving him a $5 dollar tip because I was so grateful to see I was back to normal.

Good story on your part.

I agree that you should go back and try it again. Just tell them you want a #4 on top and #2 on sides with a line. Probably look nice. Clipper cuts look way better than scissors IMO.

Funny!
Mack

John Schneider said...

Wow, this is really good! I'm going to link to it from my blog, gaminghands.blogspot.com

Xteeve said...

Interesting! I had to laugh at some parts. I am black and can relate a little bit from the other side of this equation. I think you shouldn't worry about what people think so much. it's your hair, it's your money. if you were wary about that barber, you should have simply left! don't forsake your right to choose out of some misguided political-correctness :) thanx for the read

Anonymous said...

I (white female) once got my hair cut at the black barber shop. I went in and asked, "Can you cut my hair?" And the (young, black man) barber said "Uh... Only if you want your head shaved."

Which was lucky, because that's what I wanted.

Allie Wellington said...

This story was hilarious. I am a black female and I was wondering how much a male hair cut was since I am going to cut my hair off. I googled and found this. I especially loved this line "I think at one point he used a protractor to get top just so."

Anonymous said...

LOL Bravo! As a Black guy, I have to vouch for this story's authenticity. Initially I thought this would be a racist rant but this is pretty accurate for a Black Barbershop. I've had my hair cut at a White barbershop only twice...I left feeling exactly as you did. The only exception was that they were done in about 20 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Why did coconut oil make you so angry? Does its smell remind you of black people?

Doug said...

No, it reminds me of coconuts. I hate Hawaiians.

CEJ said...

In small towns barber shops can be hard to find. I went into a barber shop that catered to African American men and asked if they could cut my wavy So. Italian hair. The barber thought about it for a minute and said he could give it a try.
He did fine, but I did ask for a fairly short haircut. I remember a white barber complaining about black people's hair (I'm assuming men), but one white customer asked him, If all you ever do is give a short buzz cut with those clippers, what difference does it make?

Anonymous said...

this is really funny, i looked this up on google because after 7 years of going to the same black barber he finally mentioned that he got another white client. my barber and the other guys in the shop let me in on a secret, that i was the only white guy that they had ever cut. i go in every thursday to get lined up and get a straight razor temple fade to a 2 top. they were talking about how they were uncomfortable when the guy walked in because they thought he would ask for a "scissor" cut and they did not have any practice in it.

Anonymous said...

This is all very funny and intersting everyones experience with barber's of another race. I live in Chicago (Black man) who has had bad and good cuts by several Black barbers. However,in college I went to a Supercuts downtown that was frequented by people of all races. Unfortunatley I let a Hispanic woman cut my hair and it was f***** up beyond belief. At the time my hair was normay faded with waves on the top. I am by no means racist but black hair is different than most other races. Unless the person has experience cutting ethnic hair don't waste your time. It is hard enough to find a good barber period . I hate when a great barber moves away too far or leaves the shop without telling clients. Another time I went to a prodomintley Arabic shop and the guy did ok but I would never go back again. Just to reiterate stay with someone who is knowlegable of your hair type and you'll do just fine.

Anonymous said...

You took a chance and it didn't pay off. As a black barber I have cut both white and black hair. Since I seldom cut straight hair I only know 3 styles and they are for the younger crowd of straight hair.I have a goal to deliver the best hair cut I can. With that said I also look to improve on what I cut most black hair. Black or white if you have a problem with the barber you will never like your cut.

Anonymous said...

hahaah! Funny stuff.

A great way to tell if you're in the right place is to see if the clientelle matches people like yourself. Me: white girl, made mistake of walking into a local shop and the customers were old ladies with their heads underneath those old-timey hair dryer things. I was too embarrassed to walk out. Ended up with "old lady hairdo": puffy on top, blowdried into a poufball set with lots of hairspray. Wish I had taken pics, but I was too vain at the time to show the world. Ugh...

Anonymous said...

I can just say stick with who you know or heard of who does a good job. I have had a reeeeaaallly bad hair cut and yes hair coloring - they left me sit for like an hour and my head burned. This is when I went somewhere new and as I was walking out people were literally staring and pointing and someone actually laughed. I was the only one walking besides the other people doing the laughing. I cried it was embarrassing. I too had to go somewhere else. I don't think they liked me either and these ppl were white.

Carrie said...

I agree with KAA, Lorrie, & anyone else who 1) thought your story was hilarious, 2) people should lighten up, and 3) find an Asian barber (KAA said Korean, I have no idea what area of Asia my guy was from) but I was out of state & about to do a photo shoot of my show dog when I realized I needed a haircut & decided I might want to be in the pictures with him, since he was the #1 Chow Chow in the US at the time. In the same strip mall as the photographer was a barber shop/styling salon, whatever, it was close and I had a few minutes, walked in, met a tiny little Asian fellow (is that the politically correct term? I dunno...I think Oriental is not supposed to be used, right?) anyway, he gave me the best haircut I've ever had, and the pictures came out better than any I've ever had taken- so much so that I laid out about $500 to have the best photo put on the back of our breed magazine in full color. I wish I could have him cut my hair every time, but he is near Atlanta, GA, and I live in TN....

Chantilly Patino said...

My husband also gets his haircut at a black-owned barber shop. He gets a great cut every time and his line is always perfect! =) It has been our experience also, that nobody...especially not salons...can give him a good cut!

Anonymous said...

You're a fucking idiot.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful, self-effacing story. I was absolutely howling. I have forwarded the link to this to others, to help make their days too. Thanks for the laughs. (Hopefully, your hair has grown out by now.)

Ellie said...

Funny story.

My first week of teaching, I looked out at a sea of faces and tried to memorize names. As usual, this turned into a catalogue of "Chaniqua has the yellow corn rows, Tayon has the little twisties, Alcea has straight black hair with purple highlights, and Ronnisha has huge curly hair like Beyonce..." Two weeks later, Gustav hit, and when I got back, it had all changed! Chaniqua had a cookie bush, Tayon had a buzz cut with lining, Alcea had a pink weave like Rihanna, and Ronnisha had a short pony tail with perfectly oiled curls at her temples! Clearly, my strategy for identification would have to change.

Please also note that hair can make or break a case in court... If a girl rips out another girl's hair, it makes a big difference whether it was a sew-in or a weave. Weaves or tracks are glued to the scalp and easier to pull out. Sew-ins require FORCE.

I was lucky enough to have a couple ladies pull me aside and explain the world of black hair, but before that, my white-Yankee self had no idea.

(Names have been changed.)

Darcia said...

Came by this blog while researching how to create a blog. I have had a similar experience very recently at the local hair school down the street from my house. I go there mostly for color but decided to be brave enough to get a haircut by one of the students. Turns out the student I got (a young white male) would be doing both. He admitted never cutting a black person's hair (which surprised me since it is a hair school). He colored it perfectly. But when it came time for the cut, he started cutting my hair with the scissors, in an uncontrolled frenzy. He was downright maniacal. I watched him from my mirror's view and was too afraid to say anything for fear that any criticism would be construed as being racist, even though my fear was that he was too novice for my comfort level. Thank God the stylist (a 20 something black female student) in watching from the next chair intervened. She was explaining to him how our hair is different and has to be styled in a different way. She told him to blow dry my hair until it was completely dry (having still been wet from the color, and then wash) so he could see its true length before he resumed cutting it. She demonstrated with clippers, rather than scissors. She insisted that he do it but it was clear he had lost confidence (because he clearly had it before she intervened). She actually did finish cutting it, though it was mostly correcting what he started. After watching intently for about ten minutes as she talked him through how it should be handled, he excused himself to leave early for a job interview (he was to be graduating in a couple of weeks). Needless to say I thanked and tipped them both. I have gone there one other time for color since then, but think I will look for a more experienced hair stylist for hair cuts.

Rie said...

I. I am a black female.
2. I found this story to be funny.
3. You know what they say about assuming things...it makes a ass out of u and me (assume). Black hair has all kinds of textures, from super straight to extremely curly.
4. I'm sorry to hear you HATE Hawaiians!
and last of all...next time plan ahead. Most people that I know make appointments to get their hair done or even cut by the barber. This might work for you. I don't think of you as a racist. I think of you as someone who needs to experience more out of life. This will help change your prospective on people and get rid of that unjustifiable hate.

Costarikker said...

A barber is supposed to be able to cut EVERY type of hair. Notice that the PROS charge so much money. As for the "racial quality" of the haircut, we can all thank over a century of segregation. Funny enough, quite a few black people cut white man's hair back then, but not the other around. My, how times change...for the better...???

HolyJuan said...

@Costarikker - If you read the comments above, you will see that different hair requires different techniques, almost like chefs with different foods.

Anyone can be trained to cut any kind of hair, but I assume most barbers are usually trained for the home team.

Of course I also assume it is hard see what kind of haircut you have under that white hood you are wearing.

Diana The Art of Image said...

Just joined and trying to figure out how to set all this up - never the less blog...any hoo, this was HILARIOUS!!

I'm a mexican hairstylist that just relocated from Phoenix, AZ to Oklahoma and have noticed the endless amount of blond hair!! Needless to say I can handle anything but relating to your story was great.


THERE ARE TIME WHEN ALL WE NEED IS A GLAMBULENCE!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a black guy and I found the article verrryyy interesting. It points out the thin line we all tryn not to cross just to be polite... Instead of just being honest ... Not racist but honest... Where a man chooses to get his hair cut is his choice... Aslong as the next man .. No matter his race or religion, can do the same in that same exact seat ....I mean I wouldn't go to Kenny Rogers for "soul food" lol ..it is what it is....supply and demand...you go with what best suits ya plan Follow me @ricogritt. Exuse any grammatical or spelling errors plzzz... :)

Anonymous said...

totally worth the read.

i'm a paramedic (and white guy) just moved to a new neighborhood, in desperate need of a haircut. neighborhood is one of the fewer multi-racial working-class neighborhoods in new york city but in walking distance i'm surrounded by black barber shops. in fact there's one across the street.

for the hell of it i thought 'someone must have run through a similar experience and blogged it..' and this was a thoroughly entertaining read. awesome. thanks doug.

racist? please. the guy went to a black barber shop looking for a cut, something liberal hipster art students jacking up the rents around here wouldn't do. his decision to go to his spot makes perfect sense just as going to the mechanic you know makes perfect sense irrespective of skin color.

on a side note of my two roommates- one is senegalese and one indian- while the former is in seventh heaven with so many hair options, the latter and i who both have straight hair are debating the costs and convenience of sucking it up and looking like vanilla ice the first few times around.

although if i had a girlfriend maybe i'd get her name on my head :-P

Anonymous said...

I'm a white guy and I prefer black barbershops (or Dominican ones like I found in my old neighborhood in Brooklyn). Yeah they take forever, cause there's an artistry to it (or should be), and because most black barbershops are community spots where men (and here I'm thinking you made a mistake bringing your wife with you) gather to shoot the breeze and hang out. In my barbershop in Brooklyn they always offer me a beer. I never go if I'm in a hurry. I'm surprised that your experience was so bad. That's not par-for-the-course in black barbershops, at least in my experience.

Anonymous said...

im white and used to get my hair cut at great clips because thats where my parents would take me. i like my hair buzzed short and ive been going to a black barber shop lately. they know how to cut hair if you want it cut short plus its cheaper.

Anonymous said...

Wow.. You act like you have never interacted with a black person before. "a hand grasp which was then used as a man shield to fill the void between them when they did a quick hug" LOL are you serious?

Listen, I'm white and I actually had a similar first time experience with an all black barber shop. I asked for a straight fade and I got the best haircut ever for less than I have ever payed. They pay attention to detail and make you look fresh. I dont know what you were thinking but get with the program.

Anonymous said...

I am white and have had my hair DAMAGED repeatedly by both Hispanic and Black hairdressers because hair is so different among different ethnicities - or is it sick revenge by "women of color" against whites? They used scalding hot flat irons (my hair is pencil straight and fine) and heavy brushes which permanently damages fine hair and takes at least one year to grow out. I will not go to non-white hair stylists - I don't care if they think I'm racist - why should my hair get damaged again due to their ignorance?

Anonymous said...

Can't stop laughing at your story, but not in the bad way. I guess stick with what you know. I'm Hispanic and get my hair cut by anyone who can do a decent job.If want a fade or a clean up when I sport my hair short, I will always go to a black-barber though.

Anonymous said...

Im a white guy and in high school i stopped in a shop close by to my moms in downtown Charleston,WV and the barber was black. Ol' Joe the barber (R I P ) .. I never stopped going there to get my haircut. He was the best barber I've ever seen. All my friends white and black went there after that too.

Your experience had nothing to do with the color but with the barber.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting. I am a black barber, 18 years, and soon to be barber-teacher. I cut and style all hair textures and unfortunately, there are many, many barbers who will only cut certain hair textures, and it irritates the hell outta me.

As a teacher, my goal is to bridge the gap so that any student that obtains his/her license will know how to be versatile not only through cutting ability, but people/communication skills also. There's only a handful of barbers, regardless of race/ethnicity who are diverse in this profession.

Anonymous said...

I'm a red-headed White woman and I just got the worst haircut of my life, which was more like an assault, by a Black woman at a Hair Masters. She chopped at it, all the while talking about the Lakers and being loud with the other Black gal in the shop. She kept hurting my ears with the comb. I paid her a $4 tip out of fear of verbal assault. I had to have it redone, too. MY INSTINCTS HAD TOLD ME TO WALK OUT, TOO, BUT I DIDN'T LISTEN.

Anonymous said...

Im white too and I started going to Great Clips cause thats where my mom would take me as a youngster, Then I found this Korean shop that wasn't too bad and went there for many years. Then one day my friend(Black guy) ask for a ride to a barbershop and I took him we get there and its an all black barber he asked me you going to get your haircut too? I kinda felt a little uncomfortable bein I was the only white person there but im not racist an mostly have black friends anyways so i decided to give it a try and turns out I got the best haircut I ever had perfect precision line ups. and have been going there for the past 11 years and Ive gotten my haircuts by all of them there some were great and some were good but none of them messed my hair up but after about 6 months I found the barber in there I liked best and now i just walk in and the barber knows what haircut im coming to get and that I want him to cut my hair. Hes turned out to be the owner of the shop but I like him the best and will wait if hes backed up hes been cutting my hair for the bast 11 years and i dont mind waiting cuz its pretty chill in there couches tons of TVs music everyones very friendly its just a great enviroment and I never asked him if he knows how to cut white people's hair hell I didnt even have to tell him what hair cut i wanted he just always knew what to do when I sat down.

So i had an opposite experince off you and even if this shop does close for some crazy reason ill probably find another black barber shop. I get my haircut short with a shape-up and in my oponion most black males get a short haircut and shape-up to. So i assume they have more experience in cutting close cuts with clippers.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
I am Latina, but my son looks like a white boy from head to toe. He had blond shinny soft hair until he was about 1 ½-2. Then I took him to a barbershop, they cut his hair with clippers and now he has dirty blond sandy hair and the texture has changed a lot. His hair sticks up when it grows and he looks shabby when it gets a few inches long, it has also gotten dull. Can anyone please provide advice on how to fix this? I am thinking that I might have his hair cut with scissors from now on, but are there any hair products that I could use? Thank you.

Mrs. Wanda Williams said...

hey doug im a barber,if u hadnt said the race we wouldnt even considered it.white or black barber could have given u a bad cut.however i cut a diverse clientele and the hair is different from one client to the next.advice:just tell him to get it off your ears and neck.if there is a nexttime.

Christy said...

Wow, there are some obtuse folks in here who cannot read sarcasm.

Vanny said...

Of all of the psycho-analyzing going on here, I LOL'd the hardest over the commentor reliving the poufy-old-lady-hair-salon experience!!

Do what I've done. I once detected there may be issues when dropping by a salon, but with no other options in the moment, I tactfully asked the stylist 'no offense, but are you experienced with short african american do's before I sit in your chair?'. She arrogantly replied yes, and promptly commenced to JACKING ME UP.

I asked for her manager to intervene, explaining that I'd given her a chance to excuse herself from serving me if she was uncertain she could do a good job. The manager took over to show her what to do differently, and commenced to MAKING IT WORSE.

I politely asked both of them to step aside, and used their hair tools to complete my own styling with the rest of the clientele watching in amazement.

This, btw, was a black-on-black experience. I just knew from the look of their own do's that there might be a problem, and boy was I right! I was as an out-of-towner on business, but could not afford to be jacked up during my visit. At the risk of being called boujie, I looked out for self. I did try to lessen the sting by admitting to being 'too particular'. They probably do okay by the rest of their clientele who goes for their 'look'. Therein lies the lesson to be learned.

Leon the barber said...

Ok first off im a barber. Secondly i just happen to stumble upon this post while searching for how much black barbers make in other cities. Thirdly i was trained to cut white and black hair as a barber student im a 21 year professional in my trade. Its an unfourtunate experience you had at "Donnies". If its the "Donnies" that i know of in the city where i live, i once worked there. And the original owner "Donnie", a very skilled professional barber classmate of mine no longer owns it or works there and hasnt since maybe 2004-05. And he would have given you a superb haircut as would i, minus the coconut oil product aat the end. Let this not be a slap to every black barber but reallize that not every " barber" or stylist for that matter will give you the hair cut you want. Keep going to greatclips you will see. My ex- wife has worked for greatclips and ive seen some of greatclips 6 dollar haircuts.

Anonymous said...

lmao.. that was funny!! thx for the laugh..

ps- i hate great clips-- in always less than five minutes they are done.. and it always looks bad.

now I found a Chinese stylist who cuts my hair with precision-- costs twice as much but worth it!!

Anonymous said...

Thats an all around amazing blog..

Austin said...

3 times i have gone to a black barbershop and 3 times they have totally messed my hair up. I'm white. It's one thing to not be used to cutting a white man's hair , it's another to cut his hair as if he were black . Every time, they gave me a freshline (i look like martin lawrence now), trimmed my goatee to pencil width like some rapper and completely ignored my direction on how i wanted my hair cut. I gave them several chances, never again will i go to a black barber. EVER.

Anonymous said...

This is a very funny yet sad story! It's peppered with some racial stereotypes but funny in any case. When going to any barber you have to ask and ask again can they cut the cut you want. Most barber shops have a few great barbers and then those that just need a way to make some money. You probably got stuck with the later. It's painfully obvious you and your wife have no interaction with people of color. That's the saddest part of this story!
It's a big diverse world you should get into more of it!

Zac said...

There seems to be a template. Everyone says their race and gender then preceedes to tell if they had the same or opposite experience. Some even comment on the hilariousness of your blog. I suppose I'll do that too, with hopes that my comment wont be lost in the pool of very similar comments.

I'm a dude mixed with White, Asian and Black. I have hair straight as a pin, but with black texture... thick, course and dry. I can actually spike and/or fro my hair with ease, depending how I'm feeling. Anytime I go to a new stylist or Barber I get the exact same deer in the headlights look... almost as if they want to say "What's up with your hair."

I've been to countless numbers of shops seeking a "good" stylist. The point is, being very mixed with almost every hair type I have had more difficulty than most finding a good stylist, and I can relate to the frustrations of Doug finding a new barber. But it's really barber to barber based. Either they have the skills to cut your hair or not. We can't knock Great Clips or Super Cuts because of a bad experience (or 5 bad experiences in my case and 8just okay experiences) I'm sure there is at least one barber that works at Great Clips that gives really awesome haircuts, and who knows, perhaps that barber is Doug's barber.

I currently see a white woman with a thick Scottish accent. I didnt expect much going in but boy does she give the best haircuts. The first time she cut my hair I happened to walk in and accidentally saw her because someone canceled their appointment right as I walked in... But usually I have to make appointments weeks in advanced for her. I dont think I've ever told her what I want done, she just knows.

Anonymous said...

I'm white with white people hair spanish people cut best for everyone but thei not gna use scissors its with the razor

Anonymous said...

hahaha im totally diff im a bit like that big white guy i just have it short and a shape up so i actually look for black barbers or turkish ones,, next time go to a HAIR SALON LOOL,, and if you left it would not of been racist its just that black dont no how to cut white and white dont no how to cut black its simple

Anonymous said...

ha ha your a good writer and good sport. googled and here i am...had the inverse story today and can absolutely relate.

barberslife33 said...

I am a barber been cutting for 18 years it's sad that ppl put thr selfs in this position I am white an I work in a so called black shop but my clients are 50/50 as a barber u should learn how to cut all types of cuts styles ect. U never stop learning an if a barber don't know how to do these things he is lazy an don't care about his craft it's funny I see this all the time ppl say Wre all equal let's make it that way as a barber don't just cater to a spesific race a barber shop should know thr shit if not you should call urself a have ass barbershop an if u think the Place is dirty don't go it was both of your faults ppl need to educate thrselfs I hate the whole black an white thing it's 2012 now how much longer we gotta put up with this shit well that's just one barbers opinion

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading about your experience. It made me chuckle... My son is bi-racial (Mixed with black and spanish) and I've had the same experience walking into Supercuts where they mainly cut caucasian hair...I wonder do they know how to cut ethnic hair? All the questions that u asked yourself pop in my head. Anyways, interesting article...enjoyed reading it.

Anonymous said...

I'm a barber. I'm black. I cut hair; not Black, White, or Latino hair... Just hair. Its actually much easier to cut straight hair; I.E. White, than it is to cut curly hair. That guy wasn't a real barber. I have thugs, cops, doctors, lawyers, students and kids of every ethnic background that come to my shop. Some show hesitation till they see me cut... I can put a Great Clips and Hair Cuttery out of business. I get at least 10 requests a year to FIX Great Clips cuts.

AshleyGrace said...

Lmbo your great!!!

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear you that you had a bad experience at a ethnic barber shop.I myself am a professional black barber that has tooken the time to learn all types and grades of hair.wasent so much mad at your comment but slightly offended that you expressed your feelings in a manner that all black barbers are uneducated in cutting cacasion hair.

MaryB said...

I am a multicultural hair professional and I have been in the business for a number of years. I have seen shops that employ technicians who were unable to handle all types of hair. This is very regrettable. However, I do believe that there is some good news on the way. Recently, I visited and spoke with some beauty/barber schools and was told that today, the schools are now training their graduates to do ALL types of hair. I hope this has cleared the air... stay tuned

Anonymous said...

Happened with me too, but with more of a twist I'd say, but simular experience.
I'm Black and I went to a black salon, now I'm not like most black people I absolutely HATE how most blacks style their hair so I gave the women a picture of a typical more White male hairstyle...boy did I make a mistake. My hair was about down to maybe middle of my neck...on the left side she cut the hair to my jaw line...and the right side was literally mid ear length. Yes, Imagine that. I tried doing that "Justin Beiber" almost hair style but a little different. It did not work out. I'd do anything to have a white person's typical hair genetics.

Anonymous said...

PICS , or it didn't happen ! (:

Anonymous said...

LoL at the blog post. I enjoyed the honesty.
I believe you may have just had a "hair style" that was not common for the barber...and as you felt your initial instincts of fear of being a "racist" for walking out.....think what was going on in the mind of the barber. Was he to say, sorry we don't serve your kind here lol, or maybe he was scared that he would sound racist. His concern was more so then of the half honest barber who jumped out of the seat.

I think its funny that you were probably both having the same non-racist fears and both trying your best to be PC. Which is not a bad thing, just humorous, considering your opinion of the cut and his initial refusal to accept a tip.

However, black barber shops are a throw back to the old days, when men went there to hangout, socialize, and a main street small business, mostly instinct in suburbia, sadly. They are similar to the old time Italian Barbershops that you mostly find only in Italian neighborhoods or areas where there are a high population of Italians.

As I am Italian, and my hair is a little different than my Caucasian brethern, and I suppose a characteristic of people of Mediterranean decent , I have mostly gone to black owned barbershops. And let me tell you, as a fellow New Yorker posted above, they are truly ARTISTS, and of a total different breed (not literally lol) than a boiler plate mall cut.

Lol @ the exactomate comment!!! Go to an Italian barbershop and you will find the same things...these are the (strait edge) razors your grandparents used before the Gillette era. But, actually, I have heard that chain "salons" are not allowed to use due liability issues.

But remember, there also bad and good barbershops and salons, no matter ethnicity .... so you may have just picked one that was not a good one, or lacked experience. But I guess now, you wont have to vote Obama, you can proudly say that you have gone to a black barbershop in stead, and it should carry the same weight.

But respect to your willingness to give them a try and then to blog about it, a lot of people would probably been less willing to have gone through with it. (Like with a question, you accept credit card, right? Oh no? Thanks anyway! )

Sabrina Bickett said...

The story was quite entertaining, but the comments are even better. I am a black female married to one of the whitest men on earth. I will not let him go to a white barber due to the simple fact that every time he goes to one ( girl or guy makes no difference) he quietly comes home, goes into the bathroom and shaves his head, then goes to a blck barber at the end of the week. As for myself.... I grew up going to a black male stylist, but I've been to many different cultures. I read this story to my husband and after thinking it over he laughed ( it is funny) then proceeded to say this......." the guy wanted a white boy cut that's all. I do not. So I stick with what I like and he should too." We have mixed children who have gone to both black and white stylists. I just tell them exactly what I want. If it doesn't work out then I don't go back. Just depends on what the stylist was taught and who they learned it from. I do think you should give it another shot tho. Just ask the barber to give you a cut this time and see what happens. Your a guy . Worse comes to worse you can do what my husband does. No biggy!!

Anonymous said...

wow

Raymond R said...

IM a barber who is in a shop with both white and black hair and we talk about this all the time it has nothing to do with color it has to do with the barber if the barber doesnt or wasnt shown how to cut white hair he doesn't know like if a black guy goes to white barber he may not know how to they are two different types of hair

Anonymous said...

My barber always told me that caucasian hair is a complete different game...even apart from the latinos. You had a bad first experience and so did I at an all black barbershop...she cut my hair ok but my hair was softer then she expected..lol

Anonymous said...

I found this so funny, I'm a black female and I live n new england and I have honestly have to say That what type of hair you can do depends on where you went to school, and what you primarily work on. Most Cosmo n barber school up my way only teach you how to do white hair. I've been in school n asked a teacher to cut mine and she said she faint cut ethnic hair, same thing for barbers, n what Is learned in school is often forgotten if its not used. Now if you want a scissor cut you go to a salon or a barber that primarily services people with straight hair or a Hispanic shop, if you want a short cut or some designs or a mural you would go to a black or a Hispanic shop. Well ones that primarily serve those types of clients... shops provide services that the Majority of the clients want. I'm sorry for The bad You had but hey everyone has then I can't get my hair done at salons that primarily service white people, my hair would look worse than it did when I can in been dry and lopsided, Just because the stylist doesn't know how to put coconut oil in my hair, and I honestly don't know why u would hate hawains, I personaly not like coconut but it s good for your hair

Anonymous said...

You do as i do and thats pay for two seperate cuts. Black in the back n white on the top. This blows, but i have been @#%! Out of luck finding one that can do both.

Anonymous said...

Do u live in columbus? Im struggling w finding someone thst csn cut both ways

Anonymous said...

My father is a black man that has owned and operated his shop for 60 years. That's what I said. A true professional can cut the hair of anyone who gets in his chair. Years ago a great number of barbers were black men who cut the hair of white customers. How do I know that? Because that has been my experience around trained professionals who don't make excuses for their less than professional training.

dwr said...

It's certainly not about race - it's about training and experience..

And in this case - honesty.

I remember calling up a salon that was very close to my son's school (super convenient) but looked like it only serviced adults. I asked if the did children, she said "what kind of cut" and I said "bowl cut"... we then had lots of back and forth about what that was until she exclaimed "OH you mean a little white boy!" ... "well yes actually."

She explained the difference in hair texture etc. and worked at great clips for years so could do anything. Gave my son the best damn cut he ever had.

Next hair cut time I called and she had moved way across town her brother answered - I knew he cut kids hair (this place was sooo convenient) I now knew to (awkwardly) ask about white folks hair to which he said Yes he could.

UM NO HE COULD NOT. Same story - my son has fine straight hair. This guy pulled out the clippers - no luck. Pulled out the biggest pair of scissors I ever saw and he "cut" with panic in eyes as my sons hair just slide to the side instead of getting cut. Then more clippers...

It was a train wreck. My son looked like he got run over by a lawn mower. I still paid/tipped him. He was mortified. I was miserable. My son was 3 - he got a lollipop and didn't care.

Anonymous said...

HolyJuan your a fag.

Holy Juan said...

At least I'm a fag that knows how to spell you're correctly.

Anonymous said...

Master Barber if you know about hair you'll know it changes color and texture as you get older nothing to do with the way it's cut I'm Latino too you are tripping

Bj Johnson said...

It doest matter what race a person is cutting hair, lol. I went to black barbers and spanish barbers, some did a ok job some did a excellent job, one spanish barber didnt know how to cut waves, gave me patches and bald spots, till this day i have spots in my hair and my hair texture has changed because my hair had to start over and grow from the root, my point is no matter what race your barber is anyone can give you a bad haircut if you dont know what your doing, i myself have a mixed texture of hair and i found that its best to have two different barbers in my case, for fades, tapers, and combovers go to spanish barbers, for my waves and ceasars i go to black barbers and since ive been doing this i have never experienced a bad haircut again unless you can find a barber that can do it all which in my case is very rare.

Anonymous said...

Truth be told as a hair professional its simply about experience. If u go to barber school in a black community then work in one then youll never learn how to cut on white bwoys! And vice versa. As far as putting oil on a paleface. Well he just didnt pay attention in theory. If he had he would remember that while his ppl hail from warmer/dryer climates and tend to have dry scalps, your poor lil pink head is just the opposite, and produces enough sebum per day to make a small bowl of fries in... no worries! If u would like to be able to go to a black barber who can cut them stringy hairs correctly and efficiently... well, move out of the damn ghetto! Your welcome

Quinn Machado said...

You just got a bad Barber. Nothing to do with race. I'm black/white (portuguese) and white people can't cut my hair, and black people almost can't.
BTW....did you know that African stylist/barbers MUST know how to cut caucasian hair, before passing barber school?
Do you know why?
Because blacks have MANY hair types, from curly to nappy to wavy to bi-racial. All these hair types Blacks MUST know how to cut...even straight hair. White people DON'T have to know the above mentioned hair types to pass barber school. So you tell me racisim does not still exsist.

Anonymous said...

If you have to "do your best to pretend that you aren't the least bit racist" then you probably are very racist.

Amtheyst Davidson said...

Because all black barbers are in the ghetto..

Anonymous said...

Funny, I would have made my excuses though

Anonymous said...

That's weird. I get my hair done in a "Mexican" barber shop (I am white as can be). All the barbers there love each other and go out together... The shop has graffiti in it, an Xbox, skateboards, rap playing, and they cut hair. Well.

I wouldn't judge someone's ability to cut your hair based off their color, I would judge them by how good they can cut your particular style of hair.

Anonymous said...

Similar things happen when people try to cook the food of another culture, or perform music. You must be pretty naive if you don't expect that.

asrc said...

Where in calgary was this. I'm black and new to the city and I'm looking for a barber

Anonymous said...

I've been barbering for 28 years. I've been hairstylist for 4 years.

I've worked at "white" salons, "black" salons and many middle eastern salons.

I can assure you that all hair types and ethnic groups require different techniques.

I am mixed Native Indian/German/Scandinavian. When I've kept my hair long'ish I've had nothing but amazing results from medium to high end barbers of middle eastern background (if you can stand the body odour). When I've kept my hair very short and even skinfaded I've found middle eastern and black (if you can stand the body odour) barbers did incredible work in the medium to high end barber shops.

This is my experience with barber shops. I've found "white" barbers did not know how to deal with very short or skinfaded hair. I've always ended up having to go home and give myself a proper short cut or skinfade. They do a good job with long'ish hair though.

I've worked with many female stylists and NONE OF THEM felt comfortable cutting mens hair but they did it anyways. Naturally they showed their cleavage and they got tipped big even if they botched up a haircut. Male hairstylists will cut men's hair with more confidence but they will feel ill at ease cutting very short hair or doing skinfades.

To the author of this article; if you hair was super short or if you wanted a skinfade the "black" barber would have given you a precision haircut.

mumov3mags said...

When I did my hairdressing training, to pass we had to be competent in all aspects of Caucasian hair, as well as afro hair, and barber techniques was also taught covering both hair types. This included style, techniques and the scientific aspects too,

Gonzo said...

Oh my god. I'm out of town and I looked in the mirror and saw that I really needed a hair cut. Just by chance ten minutes later I was walking past a shop that said "Barbers".

I looked inside and saw four black guys in there. I really felt awkward but eventually figured a) I needed a hair cut and a barbers is a barbers.

Well, to cut a long story short, I now have a black guy hair cut.