In Hair Salons, Racial Segregation Never Really Ended

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When I became the studio coordinator at a top salon, I didn’t initially feel out of place among a largely White staff. Growing up in a big city and attending a predominantly White all-girls school, I was accustomed to situations in which I was surrounded by those who shared skin tones and ideologies different from me. Being the only Black person in a room was an everyday occurrence. I grew comfortable in these situations, able to navigate the nuances of what seems affixed to the DNA of America. I quickly realized that my tolerance ends when I’m exposed to moments of racism, whether overt or veiled. Which is why I soon became uncomfortable in my own skin at the salon, where I learned that racial segregation never really ended.

Racial inequality has become a forefront of conversation in today’s political climate. And although people will get defensive, clutch their pearls, and deny it when you call them out on racism or white privilege, now, more than ever, we need to have these uncomfortable conversations. Just because something is commonplace does not make it okay. Especially when an unjust practice—hair discrimination—is brought to your attention and you still choose not to change.

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