Thoughts from the beauty industry

A friend of mine posted today @themfway ”it’s the very first time in my life that I have witnessed so much solidarity over black peoples rights and the black lives matter movement and its amazing!’’ This is amazing but why is it the first time? We love and are so entrenched in black culture, why is this the first time we have stood up for our peers in this way? We have a tendency to view the overt and open racism reported in the US as a distinctly US phenomenon with the belief that our societies are free from such oppression. We need to recognize any ingrained racism within ourselves and seek to improve – looking to recognize how our own positions of privilege or racial bias has made life easier for us.

People currently protesting in Trafalgar Square have had to make a conflicting decision, given the current Covid situation about what they stand for – staying home to protect the elderly and vulnerable or standing out and being seen so that race inequality is heard and felt. That is not an easy decision and the result of which (and the fact it is a decision in itself in 2020), has sent shock waves through the heart of our community.

Within my own friendship group – quick to debate on any occasion, we surprised ourselves at not bringing the George Floyd events to the conversation sooner. I personally felt wary of saying the wrong thing and not really knowing what to say, but saying nothing is the worst of all options. ‘’I understand that I will never understand but still I stand’’ has quickly become the slogan of #Blackouttuesday alongside the black screen share that has flooded our news feeds today. This movement really embodies those feelings or concerns and captures a response for those who feel unsure, perhaps making it easier to rally on this occasion. However standing as one on this particular day is not enough, and businesses in particular have a responsibility to do more.

I specialize in European hair, black hair is different and it’s own specialist field, you can’t be good at everything so pick a target market. Challenging myself today is this really true and can I do more as a business to be fair and equal in society? On investigation, yes I do have the existing talent in my team already and can add further services to my menu to appeal to a wider, fairer and more equal consumer market. However, by doing so am I then becoming competition to black owned salons? With black women spending on average 6x as much on hair than a European woman should there be more choice and should this market and industry be doing more to cater for them both in terms of salons and product? Ultimately I want all clients from all backgrounds to feel welcome and catered for and will be looking at how I can do this better going forwards.

Working with black hair is not taught on a standard NVQ level 2 diploma and I feel that this is a really good starting point for change within our industry. Not only for a given hairdresser to be able to provide service for all but also to encourage more black people to enter the industry and ultimately supporting the emergence of more black owned businesses. People may prefer a specialist Afro salon but the option for elsewhere should be there and abundant. This is an issue with many layers, it is not a quick fix and it is not an easy decision for business to navigate; particularly with each decision at risk of white saviorism criticism. Lets keep moving forward. Please sign and share the petition below to introduce Afro hair education into the Hairdressing NVQ, regardless of which ethnicity has implemented and backs this petition I think it is the right thing for our industry at this time;

Links and resources to read and share;

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