“All I’m saying is that if he didn’t do it, he know the guy that did,” said Michael.
Michael was cutting a man’s hair, but a few guys waiting for their turn were talking about the OJ Simpson case.
“Man, OJ did that mess.” A guy sitting waved Micheal’s comment off and walked to get a cup of water from the big water jug. “Brothas need to stop being in denial about that and face the fact that the OJ case shows how violent black men have become.”
“What the hell is that s’ppose to mean?” An old man seemed to have jumped out of his slumber in the corner chair. “I ain’t violent just ‘cause I’m a black man.”
“Yeah that just sounds like a bunch of hoopla to me,” someone else spoke out. “It’s like that stereotype that black men are always angry. I don’t get angry.”
The shop started to erupt in conversation.
“Shoot, me neither.”
“I mean, not gonna lie, I get angry sometimes fellas. Like…hella.”
“But that don’t mean you an angry person, man. Everyone gets a little upset.”
“I don’t know. All of ya’ll seem pretty angry right now to me,” someone said sarcastically.
Michael put the finishing touches on the man’s hairline, handed him a small mirror and rubbed powder and alcohol around his head. After lowering his chair and receiving payment, he dapped the man and thanked him.
By the time he turned his attention to the group of men, they were all at each other’s necks.
“Alright, hol’ up,” Michael yelled with his hands up. “Now, the young fella brought up an interesting topic, but I think it’s time to have an open conversation about the brand of black men and boys. All ya’ll know we need to be honest about how we treat our sistas.”
“They need to be honest about how they treat us!” someone yelled out. A few people laughed and nodded in agreeance.
“What do you mean, young fella? Black women have done nothing but support us and be by our side. Over these past few generations where have a lot of the black men been?”
“In the streets or in jail,” someone answered.
“Exactly, and black women still take care of us. Hell, all of you negroes were born and raised by a black woman so I think they’re treating us pretty damn well.”
The mood had changed in the shop now. Michael gestured for the next person in line to come sit in his chair.
“We have hope though, brothas,” he smiled wide. “I know this because we’re all sitting here talking out the issues. Now all we have to do is figure out the solutions.”
“I’ve been married going on 63 years,” the old man spoke up again. “And if I haven’t learned anything else it’s happy wife, happy life.”
“That’s what I’m saying. Now, I’m gonna say this and be done.” Michael grabbed his clippers and stepped forward. “Start leading your lives with love and affection. Our ancestors were a community that looked out for each other and did things for the betterment of the group. Let’s redefine our brand and get back to that fellas. Can we do that?”
“Alright, then,” Michael started cutting hair and smiled. “Let’s get it done. What ya’ll gone do?”
“We have to start at the schools, man,” one man said to another.
“How do we convince those young men in the streets that our agenda is worth it?”
“I’m telling ya’ll,” the old man said. “Supporting our black businesses is the key.”
“We’re gonna be alright,” Michael grinned and started fading the sides. “We always will be.”