If you have natural hair, you know how difficult it is to find a salon with stylists who actually know what they’re doing. Bianca Dawkins of Minneapolis had been growing her hair out for just over a year when she made an appointment at the Danny Kemp Salon & Spa but unfortunately, things didn’t go as smoothly as she hoped they would.
According to City Pages, Dawkins informed the salon that she was natural before her appointment but on the day of, Stylist Justin Waltenberg touched her hair and called it “an animal that can’t be tamed.”
After other stylists refused to do Dawkins’ hair, she asked, “So, what? Black girls can’t come in here and get their hair done?”
Dawkins said the stylist then replied, “Well, it isn’t the 1950s or ’60s, where we can just put up a sign in the window.”
Dawson took her story to Facebook and it soon went viral and caught the attention of the salon. The salon posted an “apology” that, of course, wasn’t taken at face value by the public.
One commenter revised the salon’s statement to reflect what they felt a true apology should have consisted of:
This post should have read:
“Today one of our racist, formerly employed stylists made racist comments to a client who we so desperately hope does not justifiably sue our salon on the basis of racial discrimination. We cannot apologize enough that this occurred. We further apologize that other stylists and employees witnessed this vile attack yet remained silent, thereby tacitly endorsing this repugnant behavior on behalf of our salon. We are committed to vehimently [sic] demonstrating support to clients of all persuasions. Rest assured, this isolated and ugly incident has been dealt with swiftly and decisively. This former stylist is free to pursue his Thurmond/Wallace agenda at another place of employment. We have zero tolerance for this behavior.”
Based on my understanding of the situation, this would have been much more appropriate than victim-shaming, which is what I perceive the salon’s statement to be.
Salon Owner Danny Kemp defended the Stylist saying “Justin is highly talented in many, many aspects,” Kemp said. “If he can’t do something, he’s not happy about it … he’s a little emotional, and he’s very, very proud.”
“I mean we’re all probably guilty of being racist about something,” Kemp said. “We all have blind spots, you know, because we don’t know.”
Dawkins has now created a #BlackHairMatters event to educate people in the Minneapolis area about natural hair.
Danny Kemp’s salon should have handled the situation differently. I’ve personally walked into a salon with predominantly white stylists and knew based on their utter shock and surprise via body language and raised eyebrows that it was time to make other arrangements. But referring to someone’s hair as an untamed animal because you don’t posses the necessary skills to handle and style it successfully is unacceptable.
Phone misunderstandings occur and ‘natural hair’ to some stylists just means hair that has not been colored or chemically altered. It doesn’t always mean coils and kinks to folks who are completely incompetent when it comes to highly textured
There are salons that specialize in super curly tresses, color, locs, braids, weaves, blowouts and Nia-long inspired cuts. It’s rare to find one place with stylists that can master any hair texture or length that walks through their doors.
What is your process for finding a salon that caters to black hair and/or specifically natural hair? Have you ever walked into one and realized quickly that you should have gone somewhere else? Have you ever received racist discriminatory comments from a stylist lacking highly textured hair know how?