The barbershop has always played a very distinct role in the black male community. It has never merely existed as a place to get a haircut; it’s often a counselor’s office, a safe space and summit ground for generations of men to inform and uplift each other. A barbershop is one of the few places where black men can feel unequivocally in charge and can exercise the utmost agency over how they present themselves to the world.
To emphasize the cultural impact of the black barbershop, ecommerce shaving service Bevel released a powerful 7-part video series called “Bevel Classics,” which takes a look at the different aspect of black grooming, style and why they matter beyond fashion. The current, sophomore season is a follow-up to their first series of videos from 2015, which primarily focused on the significance of different style elements. The second season provides in-depth insight into the function of the barbershop within the black community and just why they are considered institutions.
Each video features a prominent male figure in black culture, like hip-hop legend Black Thought, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Big Daddy Kane, Professor Quincy Mills and Bevel founder/CEO Tristan Walker, as they get professionally groomed by celebrity barber Marcus Harvey.
Jakes’ short is a perfect summation of what a seat in a barber’s chair means to black men: “You sit in a throne for a minute, and you get to have it your way … because when you get out of the chair, you may not get to have it your way. Every man has power in that moment.”
As they earnestly share their personal stories and the history of barbershop culture, it’s hard to miss how each of these giant figures is equally leveled with the everyday man. Even down to the black-and-white filter, no discernible element ranks one man above another in class, education or religious belief. That’s another power of the chair: within the walls of that shop, it is the ultimate equalizer.
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