The findings that Boutte and Hill, put forward in their essay on Barbershops in the southern states of America, are of great interest to me. As a black male that has gone through the education system and has returned to it, I feel that I could possibly of benefited from an aspect of my learning being more culturally relevant and focused on me as black male teenager growing up in the United Kingdom. The problems that teenagers face and the issues that arise as a result of adolescence are well documented, so I need not say any more about them. I can only speak for myself when I say, that maybe as a result of having more culturally relevant teachings at a younger age, it may of helped me to form more solid and coherent thoughts on multiculturalism and also my own identity and place within British society.
Boutte and Hill quote from Wilkinson (2002) when they talk of the barbershop as being a fundamental social institution within the black community where black males are able to build bonds and converse on topics as wide ranging as community life to national politic and current affairs.
The barbershop then takes on a number of different functions:
1) The place you go to get your hair cut. This however is not as basic a point as it may seem, as it also leads on to a question of grooming and presentation. How that particular person presents himself to the world, also how he sees himself, as the two are very different.
2) A place to socialise within the community
3) A place for male bonding and friendship building
For those reading this blog, I would urge you to read the essay by Boutte and Hill, which you can find on the link below.
A major difference with Salon 91 is that they do not solely cater for Afro hair. They will cut the hair of anybody, of any race, that walks through their door. I had thought that this was due to the economic climate and them not wanting to turn business away, as there is a lot of competition for business in that area. There are four other barbers shops within 400 metres of his business, making the area highly concentrated for barbering establishments.
I see a new start in relation to the cosmopolitan working class male socialisation within the Urban environment. The shift is now to one in which all members of the society bring their own cultural influence to the table. It is not based on any one group. However within this environment it does seem to be built on Afrocentric learning and culture. With a secondary tier of cultural influence from within the black community (those from Ghana, Morocco, Jamaica and Barbados, etc). With Eurocentric cultural influences plugging in and contributing as well ( for example england, spain and Portugal, etc). This is the everyday thought behind the phrase I used on the Salon 91 blog, when I say " A new cultural intervention".
It has to be stated that it is not all plain sailing however, for as positive as it is, as a result of the conversation and debate that takes place in the barbershop, other issues can also be voiced. An example of this is the conversation which I had with Reece Madden in the barbershop. He verbalised a sense of dissatisfaction with the opportunities he may get through his life as a result of his race. A number of customers in the barbershop at the time also agreed with his thoughts and feelings. In this case the dissatisfaction felt by this individual was pushing through at a young age. I also have to mention that this institution is still a very male macho environment and there are still barriers and prejudices within that space which have to be broken down.
Note the role of the Barbershop in the video.