Black Women Patronizing Non-Black Salons Another Missed Opportunity or Evolution?

I just read an eye-opening article titled “Hair together”, it’s a very clever title, not only is it a clever title it’s also very fitting. The article describes the new epidemic of Black women opting to go to multi-cultural or white owned salons opposed to Black owned ones to get their hair done. As a licensed cosmetologist though it’s not prevalent in my area of North Carolina yet, I can add Dominican based salons to that list.

The article points out many reasons why this is occurring. The recession and the fact that many Black salons are closing is one of the reasons. The fact that Black women are opting for hairstyles that don’t require an expertise in African American hairstyling is another factor.

But the third and most irritating, ridiculous factor that points to our inability to communicate, learn and grow; is the fact that Black women are dissatisfied with the service they have been receiving from Black owned salons. This has been a complaint through the years and now in a seemingly fit of annoyance and frustration they have thrown their hands up.

This bothers me. I sometimes wonder about this race, we have a lot to work on and work out in our communities but refuse to do so time after time. We would prefer to run, then turn around and act united for convenience and for the eyes of the world. We cannot run from our problems we have to find a way to solve them so that we can grow.

I do not think of this race as a race of leaders due to our unwillingness and laziness in taking this approach. Our mentalities keep us stagnant. It seems like we can only blend, and leech not create. We seem born to follow and support true leaders. We do not create and sustain by any means, we grow weary and seek help and a cushion to lay our problems on. This does not build strength.

How can we merge when we are weak, how can we merge with what’s already strong, it drowns out personal strength?

African American salons need to grow and build and then embrace diversity. We must have a strong foundation, we must concentrate and focus. We cannot simply run to those who already dominate and have strength. Support your salon to the point it attracts diversity. Do others not do the same, do others run to Black salons?

In a progressing society where escaping is becoming easier to do so (after all money is money) this is becoming common in this race. We have a habit of “spiting ourselves to spit someone else”, or better yet “spiting our race to spit each other”. We have a way of destroying our growth for a mere sense of acceptance that has nothing to do with us nor does it contribute to our growth as a community.

We are economical contributors NOT creators.

Now granted, as a cosmetologist I am aware of the “gripes” and problems that Black women legitimately face when patronizing unprofessional Black owned salons. This is why as an industry advisor who publishes a bi-monthly newsletter that focuses on salon professionalism, I make a point to emphasize the importance of communication to salon professionals.

In a perfect world this is something that the salon owner and worker should understand thoroughly. However there are many reasons and ways a lapse of communication can occur particularly if you accept subpar service then become frustrated all at once and then you react. This is an injustice to yourself and a segment of the community that should grow and be strengthened. A segment that could be the most economically stable within our communities.

Now granted I am not encouraging Black women to accept inferior service and to patronize salons that have no intention of trying to deliver great service and customer care, but you must understand that communication is the key to learning for all parties.

I had the pleasure and great experience of going to one of the best black owned cosmetology schools in the country “Dudley Cosmetology University”. A cosmetology school that not only teaches the art and chemistry of doing hair, but also teaches its students how to conduct professional business practices.

Unfortunately this is not the case with most cosmetology students. Many do not attend schools that would bother focusing on work ethics, let alone requiring you to develop a “mock business plan” to encourage thinking and understanding of all aspects of the industry.

Is this an excuse? No, but should we miss another opportunity to grow our communities and empower ourselves and children? Should we miss another opportunity to build the economy of our communities and simply continue to be consumers to society at large?

Building the communities economy allows us to regulate and direct our money towards the right places. It also allows political power, with political power we have more power within the government.
But instead we wait for the government to allocate money to the areas of interest most helpful and hope they listen and understand what they are.

Again I ask myself often ‘are we designed mentally to be leaders even amongst our own communities’. It’s hard for me to imagine women of other races coming to Black salons if and when they become unsatisfied with the service at some of the salons in their community. I can see them being vocal about it and looking for another salon in their community, even without thought. It would be a natural reaction I’m sure. This wouldn’t be racism. No it would be a natural, instinctive urge to build their surroundings instead.

Black women attempting to send a message through creating “ghost” salons in their communities is not the answer. Sometimes we must sacrifice for growth. Together with being vocal the outcomes can be much better.

Though it’s the salon professional’s job to remedy the satisfaction of a client, don’t be afraid to be specific about your discontent. I encourage salon owners to develop ways for customers to give feedback even anonymously to address client dissatisfaction. But don’t be hesitant to express your concerns through communication. After all in the growth stage we must teach each other not give up. As more and more salons begin to give professional service others will follow. They will learn through this.

Don’t give up let’s ALL strive to be better.

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