An Ode To The Realest And "Wokest" White Dude Ever: The White Barber At The Black Barbershop


Finding a truly and thoroughly "woke" White guy is like finding an albino alligator. Or a Kappa with dignity and tact. They're so rare and so elusive that the search for them often ends up propping up pretenders and a few contenders who are trying waaaaaaaay too hard and end up actually being "overwoke" like they're freebasing espresso. (Hi Matt McGorry!)


This week, of course, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield are in the news after declaring an allegiance to #BlackLivesMatter — a brave and genuinely woke move that also offers a bit of reconciliation to lactose intolerant Black people (like me) who've devoured their delicious treats and were left in a cloud of painfully flatulent shame. Today, however, I'd also like to bring attention to a particular brand of consistently woke White guy who rarely gets press and, depending on the neighborhood, sometimes even rarely gets people in his chair. The White barber at the all-Black barbershop.

What makes the White barber at the Black barbershop so consistently woke? Well, it has to do with the screening and vetting process they go through. Think about all of the conditions that must be met:

1. They need to be comfortable working for a Black person (the shop owner)

2. They need to be comfortable in a working environment with all-Black coworkers

3. They need to be comfortable going to work in a predominately Black neighborhood

4. They need to have spent enough time around Black people to not only develop a skill specific to us, but be good at it

These qualifications alone eliminate like 92% of White people. (And, sadly, like 72% of Black people.) But this alone isn't enough.

Barbershops are often places where unfiltered and racially-tinged conversations about sports and politics and relationships and pop culture and booty occur. And, if you are a barber at the shop, taking part in these conversations is part of your job description. Which means that a White barber knows enough about these topics to chime in with nuance and consideration. And, most importantly, knows enough to know when not to chime in. When to just cut hair, watch Netflix, and let the brothas hash it out. You will not find the same "Well, actually…" types of White guys at the Black barbershop you do on the Internet. Because they know better than to "Well, actually…" a roomful of niggas with sharp objects.

Anyway, if you're on the hunt for a genuinely woke White dude, go to a few Black barbershops until you find one with a White barber. And then sit in his chair and talk to him, because he might not have many customers.

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB, a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times, and the author of What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker (Ecco/HarperCollins)


Brandon Allen

Can someone let me know where these barber shops with the interesting banter are?

Everytime I go to a Barber I hear:
1. Incorrect sports facts uninformed opinions
2. Hotepian nonsense
3. Failed schemes pertaining to whatever you tell the Barber your profession is.
4. Ordering food mid haircut
5. Wistful " I reformed my life" stories.