Monday, January 26, 2015

white mama at the black barbershop...

Put a white mama in a black barbershop and there's bound to be a good story to tell.

This time, for sure!

We decided to try a new barbershop that had been recommended to me.  Marc and Caroline came along for the experience.  We pulled up to the address, but couldn't find the barbershop in the store fronts.  There were no signs for the place.   We knew it had to be here somewhere.

We saw a door that looked like a possibility, and Marc encouraged me to go check to see if it was inside.

"I wanna go!" Caroline immediately jumped out of the car and grabbed my hand.

We walked through the door, and down a hallway.  I heard boisterous laughing and talking coming from one of the rooms on the left, but there was still not a single sign in sight.  This place is simply word of mouth? I thought.

I cracked open the door, and together Caroline and I peeked inside.  It was most definitely the barbershop!

Their guffawing suddenly stopped when they saw us.

"Hi, are you _____ Barbershop?" I asked them.

"Yes we are," they answered.

"Would y'all be able to cut my two year old's hair?"

Now.  Normally that question wouldn't be anything but typical, right?

However, when you're a WHITE WOMAN showing up at a BLACK BARBERSHOP with only a BALD GIRL right next to you..... you can understand why a few of them started chuckling under their breaths.  (Is this a joke? maybe they thought.  Does this girl even know where she IS? Hahahahahaha!  I was so nervous in the moment that I didn't realize how humorous everything looked until later!)

I didn't have the one thing with me that would've made our entire encounter make sense: my SON!

"Go tell Daddy to bring Jameson in," I whispered to Caroline.  She took off running outside to where he was waiting in the car.

Upon seeing Jameson, immediately the comfort level between all parties began to rise.  He was like our ticket in.  Okay, whew.  That was quite an awkward beginning!  

Getting ready for his cut
One of the guys ushered us through the barbershop into the waiting room in the back.  They turned on a movie for the kids.  As we waited our turn, Marc and I couldn't help but overhear the black talk radio they had blaring from the boombox.

On the program, they were discussing stand-your-ground laws.  "I bet he was a conservative..." I heard the talk show host declare, and from the emphasis on the word "conservative," it was evident that wasn't a good thing.   I didn't catch much of the conversation with all the noise around me, but at one point I did hear a caller recounting an interaction with a WHITE man.  (again, the emphasis on the word "white" also made it clear that wasn't a good thing.)

Ummm.... I began feeling uncomfortable.  Do they see I'M white?  :)  Was I not supposed to be here?  I'm honestly not familiar with black talk radio, but I quickly figured out I was definitely the outsider!  I've never felt so... well, "white" before.

Would a paci and Mommy's hand keep him from crying?
And then it hit me.

Do you think this is how they, as minorities, must feel in white culture every single day?    

You see, before Jameson came into our life, I didn't have to venture out into places like the black barbershop.  I could stay in my insulated, predominantly white world where I'm not the one standing out.  I could go places where I would never have to think about my race as a factor.  I could walk into job interviews, or gas stations, or get stopped by the cops and never think about my race affecting the outcomes of those situations.

But here I was the minority.  Suddenly I felt what it is to be aware of my race, my culture, and my differences.  It was a great cultural experience, even if it was a little uncomfortable.

No it wouldn't.  Or Daddy's arms.
As we expected, the guys there were GREAT.  SO great and communal.  Once Jameson started his cut, they all so beautifully shared in the experience with us, laughing with us and talking to him.  They were warm, personable, and welcoming.  (I noticed they turned off the talk radio when it was our turn to come in the room- ha!)  They tried offering us things to help Jameson stop screaming as he thought he was being murdered the entire time...  uggghhhhh, so hard and awkward, especially because I'm the white mama and I don't know what everybody's thinking as they watch me deal with my son.

But we got the haircut, and even though it's a little shorter than I wanted to go, Jameson's still my little cutie.

All done, though not so happy
What a fun, crazy, challenging & rewarding journey it is to be a transracial family.

I wouldn't trade it for anything.

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