Is Black Still Beautiful?

In the late 70s, my Dad found a new barber. This meant I had a new barber. I was fine with that except for one little thing: my Dad would get me up at 5:30 as in AM. On a Saturday. At the tender age of eight, I learned I was not a morning person.

We would make our way to the barbershop off of what was then Detroit Street in Flint and waited until the barber opened around 7:00 am. Other men were sometimes waiting ahead of us. When the doors opened up, it was time to either hop on the barber chair or wait until it was our turn. As Dad and I waited our turn, I would look around the shop. Since this was an African American barbershop, I might pick up the latest copy of Ebony, Jet or Black Enterprise magazines and read the stories of African American businessmen, stars and sports figures. There was also at the back of the Jet magazine a picture of that month’s woman in a swimsuit. That probably interested a lot of other young boys, but even though I didn’t know I was gay yet, that never really fascinated me.

If you were seated in the barber chair getting your trim, there was a simple black sign on the opposite wall. I can’t remember how long that poster stayed up, but at least throughout the late 1970s it stared at me. It was one sentence in pink letters that said, “Black is Beautiful.”


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