David Barber stepped down as a deputy director at the Shelby County Corrections Center in Tennessee on Tuesday amid backlash from a post he shared to his Facebook timeline from a right-wing page. But since he resigned before being fired, he won’t be sent home empty handed.
Since the turn of the 19th century, African American beauty salons
and barber shops have served as special place the black community. They
have been places not only to get hair care services, but locations where
black people could be vulnerable and talk about issues of importance in
the community. In the barber shop one could historically find a couple
of men playing games such as chess, cards, or dominoes — while talking
about what is going on in the black community. In beauty salons one
could hear conversations about the town gossip, politics and local
Over the years, beauty salons and barber
shops have come to provide a unique social function. Scholars often cite
these sites as “sanctuaries” for black people. Many film adaptations of
African American themes use these businesses to show black culture in
the United States. Coming to America, 1988, Malcolm X, 1992, and Barber
Shop, 2002 are examples of films used to showcase African Americans’
unique relationship with barber and beauty shops.
The Barber Shop (1931). Edward Hopper (American, 1882-1967). Oil on canvas. Neuberger Museum of Art.
This is the largest work Hopper ever created. As was his wont, Hopper paints a moment frozen in time – the interior of a barber shop in which a brilliant shaft of light illuminates a manicurist reading a magazine and a barber as he tends to his customer. A complex and dramatic composition, Hopper conveys the isolation and disconnection between the figures, and captures the experience of human isolation in the modern city.