I hate writing about problems I have with other people who are also racialized. It feels like I shouldn't complain about my brothers or sisters and that I should protect them because we all share the same struggle - yet that kindness was not offered to me. I feel that this past week my lack-of-Blackness was taken advantage of for profit and I have since been wounded.
I have spoken about my hair experience for years, on several blogs and platforms, but to summarize: I was born with an afro and always had the same curly cut until 07 when I started doing relaxers a few times a year for almost a full decade. During that time I maybe had a few trims, and I also did cornrows twice. Then, as my mental health declined, I let my curls try to come back (because I couldn't afford the relaxers) and they did. Then I moved in with my father, embraced my Blackness and started doing box braids to heal my hair and protect it. I realized though that the lack of a proper cut to remove my dead ends and damage from the relaxers was probably impeding my hair growth goals. I set out to find a good Toronto based salon to cut my curls.
What I found as I hunted for a salon, was egregious pricing. As someone who hadn't had a haircut in about a decade I didn't know what to expect but over $150 to get a hair cut, wash and style was not in the budget. I also didn't feel I needed a wash and style, I just wanted my dead ends trimmed but in a way that would still make my fro look good dried and not deformed. I came across a salon close enough to my neighbourhood and DM'd them on Instagram asking about their fees. They said $70 would be a dry cut, $150 would be for the wash, treatment etc. I said the same thing I wrote in this paragraph about feeling it was unnecessary, having dead ends etc. I went to that appointment last week and was thoroughly disappointed. It felt that because I admitted I had never gotten a proper curly cut before I was being taken advantage of. I had forgotten the conversation I had over Instagram and this woman, who was not the woman I had originally booked with, gave the same spiel about needing the hair to be styled with products when you come in to see how it lays, then for them to wash it and teach you how to properly wash your hair, and then give you a better cut. She said this while "dusting" my hair and finished the $70 cutting 10 minutes. To I say I was angry and felt violated was an understatement. I booked the second appointment and immediately went online and cancelled it.
This is the second time that I go to a. Black salon in this city and feel taken advantage of. I got box braids at the same place my cousin did, and I was unaware she brought my aunt who negotiated prices. I went in asking for box braids for $150, said I wanted them the same as my cousin who I referenced and was somehow charged $200. Both times I felt this overwhelming sadness at the lack of community I feel. I still feel so disconnected from my Blackness that I don't even know when I'm being swindled, what prices are reasonable, how I should be getting treated. Taking to Instagram about my haircut experience, several Black women recommended places in my DMs for which I am grateful but why are these businesses doing people dirty like that? If I saw a Black woman who needed help with foundation, make up, dark spots, I would put her on the cheapest and most effective thing so she doesn't get swindled. Screw my commission or business numbers, this woman is a Sister and deserves to have the best within her budget. I'm not going to sell her something faulty or tell her to come back and spend more money. "Dusting" my hair for 10 minutes, for $70, and then telling me to come back to spend another $150 is outrageous. What was my $70 for?
My experience reminds me that Skin Folk are not Kin Folk. Some Black people are just out for the cheque, aren't going to help educate you, aren't there to be kind. In all fairness, I'm not sure why I didn't get a hair cut at Le Salon Dieppe owned by Clinton Davis, co-founder of BlackLantic (lol!). What I've learned in all of this is that I do have a community that has amazing recommendations and to take those, to do research before going places and to be prepared for people to be lame - even other Black people.