Salon of Babel

Do you do ethnic hair?

Arabs fighting Kurds. Israelis battling Palestinians. Americans vs. Iraqis. And so on. Can't we all just get along? Or, barring that, can someone tell a black woman where she can get a decent, inexpensive haircut in this town?

Stay with us; this will make sense shortly.

A haircut is what local public relations exec Bridgette Cushwanted when she stopped in at the Supercuts last week near Coit Road and George W. Bush Freeway. She had a couponfor $2 off an $11 haircut. (Personal note to Mrs. Buzz: See, it's possible to get a woman's haircut for less than the cost of a car payment.)

When she walked in, "there were white peopleeverywhere," Cush says. "All I wanted was just a trim. Snip, snip," she says. "So I asked the lady, 'Do you do ethnic hair?'"

The stylist, who was Asian, didn't understand her, so Cush pointed to her head. "Can you do me?" she asked. Cush was told they wouldn't do her hair, and the stylist referred her to Toni & Guy.

"I felt like a leper; I had to leave," she says.

OK, so on the scale of social injustice, this is pretty minor stuff, unless you happen to be a black woman. According to people we talked with, maintaining stylish hair for black women is such a labor-intensive process that we should all be grateful that the city isn't filled with women with shaved heads, though Cush, who is one-eighth American Indian, has fairly manageable hair.

"I think it's funny. And poor her--she's the one who told me that and now has to deal with the wrath of an angry black woman," she says.

Janis Chamoun, corporate communications director for Regis Corp., the owner of Supercuts, was appalled when we told her Cush's story. Supercuts stylists are trained in cutting "ethnic" hair, but Chamoun says it's possible that the stylist on duty that day was young and had doubts about her skills. Regis--based in the solidly liberal Minnesota--takes special care to be inclusive. They're a regular U.N. of hair shops.

"We never turn anyone away," Chamoun says. She promised Cush a gift card to make everything square.

We asked Chamoun what Cush's dilemma says about the prospects for world peace, when we're still divided over hairstyles. "Yeah, if we can't communicate over hair, what are our chances?" she agreed.

 
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