[ always tell stories ]

BONUS COVERAGE: "Cutting Across Racial Lines" in The Sunday Paper

(ATLANTA & SANDY SPRINGS, GA. :: 14 April 2010) Atlanta’s own Sunday Paper just published “Cutting Across Racial Lines” - a piece I wrote on two African-American barbers with vastly different perspectives on race.

So here is some bonus coverage of the piece: George Lollar (top picture, seated, right) with
Nadine’s Triple Crown in Virginia Highlands is one of the piece’s subjects, and he says he uses emotional-intelligence skills to connect with clients. “You gotta be sensitive to everyone,” he says. “I always allow my clients to lead and I follow. You’re supporting them by listening.”

Kedar Ras (pictured top, standing, left) experiences flummoxed caucasian men and women entering his Clubhouse Barbers in Sandy Springs, only to turn around and walk out. He says customers often seek and expect a similar peer group in a barber shop; when faced with something different, they will oftentimes turn around and walk out.

“One of our biggest sins is color,” Ras says. “If we cannot get past the color thing, that’s what’s gonna separate us forever. For the majority, the color barrier is still an issue. They say, ‘I can’t get past who you are because of what you look like to me.’

“I practiced getting over the fact that everybody don’t look like me,” he adds. “Even with my kids, I teach them not to see color. When you look at color you put yourself in a box or under a glass ceiling. Look past color. Get to see the person, who they are. Then make your judgment on whether or not you’re going to allow them into your inner circle. Because, to be honest, there are more enemies that look like me than there are that don’t.”

Special thanks to Nadine’s stylist Allison Eaton (pictured here, far right) and receptionist Kira Naillieux, with apologies for getting her name wrong in the article. Also, I’ll share some feedback from a Sunday Paper reader, an African American woman, who enjoyed the article:

“I read your article “Cutting Across Racial Lines” in the Sunday Paper. I am an AA woman and I can say that this is one facet of race/culture rarely talked about in open forums. Many still do not realize that churches and barbershops/salons are two institutions that still remain heavily self-segregated. I have been on the other side in which I have unknowingly walked into a “white salon” and had the stylists look at me with “surprise, paralysis and panic”. Seeing the picture of the Caucasian gentleman in the shop chair was definitely a sign of the changing times. Good story and great article!”

To read the full article, go directly to The Sunday Paper’s Web site. Once again, great thanks to Kirsten Palladino for the opportunity to tell this story.