Barbershop Talk: Men address what’s happening in their community
Why is the culture surrounding Black barbershops so important?
It’s a place where Black men can speak freely and get feedback about who we are, who we want to be and what we believe about the world around us.
Many barbershops were also hubs of civil rights activity.
At eTags Barbershop on Greensboro Avenue in Tuscaloosa, WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt asked Black men their thoughts on a number of issues surrounding the Black community.
They spoke from the heart on their concerns and victories, their lives and their futures.
On the death of Tyre Nichols:
“When it happens with your own people, its real shocking,” said David Murphy.
The news caught him off-guard, Murphy said, because he learned of the tragedy during work hours.
“When I heard about it, I was like, naw, this has got to be like, you know, this ain’t true.”
For Quinton German, though, he wasn’t surprised at what happened, but he was surprised at how fast the police officers involved were punished.
“What’s the difference between when a white officer does it?” German said. “Why does it take so long to be fired and it’s plastered all over the news and then when (Black police officers) do it, they are immediately terminated?”
That reaction must be how it is going forward, said Quin Kelly Jr.
“It’s up to us now to take the model that was shown with (officers involved in Tyre Nichols’ death) being immediately fired,” Kelly said. “That’s what we’ve been asking for all these years. When I think about this from a policy lens, I was just waiting for the conservative people who try to blame the person as if they deserve this, so I can measure it out against their response to the officers who killed George Floyd or others who have died. I think its an example for us to take and say ‘when Tyre Nichols was killed this was the action that was taken so it can be done.’ ”
On Black men being afraid when they’re pulled over by police:
“Do some (police officers) take their authority too far? Of course they do,” said Eddie T. Murphy. “We’ve seen it over and over, but at the same time I believe we need to prepare our children a little bit more on how to not make the situation more aggressive and de-escalate the situation.”
Teaching young people to keep calm when interacting with police is imperative, Murphy said.
Meanwhile, Tyler Davidson said his first interaction with police was when he was a 16-year-old driver who make a mistake.
“It was an illegal U-turn,” Davidson said. “I think in that instance I was more scared to tell my Mama I got a ticket than the police officer. I’ve grown and there are different things I do now that I didn’t think of when I was 16 years old.”
Police officers also find themselves under fire, in some cases literally. That’s why many officers wind up quitting and others aren’t interested in making it a career.
On crime in Tuscaloosa:
Currently, there are two 13-year-olds in Juvenile Detention who are charged with taking someone else’s life.
For these men, that’s an even bigger tragedy.
“(Teenagers) live to fit in and want to be like each other,” said Khalin Binion.
One big source of potential inspiration? Music.
“The music we listen to plays a huge part in how we act,” Binion said. “At one point, (teens) weren’t killing. They were robbing. They were breaking in cars. At that time, that’s when Kodak Black was at his most hype. His lyrics were talking about hitting licks, breaking in cars, so whatever the music has going on, that’s what we doing.”
On the civil rights movement versus today’s protests:
Johnny Redding said there’s one thing the civil rights movement had that current-day protests lack: Leadership.
“Back in the day there was a purpose,” Redding said. “There was a written down purpose and there was someone in leadership who was able to direct and get that purpose accomplished. Today we have no leadership.”
On Black churches and their community involvement:
Kelly said it’s complicated, but in general churches can and should do more.
“I don’t blame the communities,” German said. “I blame the churches in general.”
Kevin Shobe said he agrees that churches haven’t done enough, but Murphy said there’s only so much they can offer without being met halfway.
“You’ve not even shared yourself kindly or friendly to the next block over or the next house over,” Murphy said. “If you’re not involved, then the church is not involved.”
In Part 2 of Barbershop Talk: Do you know the history of how Black barbershops became what they are now? WVUA 23’s Jabaree Prewitt is digging deep in search of an answer.
Special thanks to all the men who were part of the Barbershop Talk at E-Tags Barbershop Tuesday, Feb. 7.