A local barbershop is stirring up controversy, after a black man agreed to cut a Confederate flag design in a white man's hair over the weekend.
Many people still see the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism and hate, but the barbers at the Fade N Up shop on N May Avenue say they saw it as an opportunity to educate and get paid.
As customers lined up to represent the 4th of July stars and stripes on their head, one man was more interested in wearing the stars and bars.
“He called on the phone knowing that it was a diverse shop, but mostly black barbers here,” says Demontre Heard, “so I felt like he really didn’t have a problem with coming here, even though he seemed kind of scared when he first came in.”
The customer, who remains unidentified, asked for a design inspired by his favorite rapper, Yelawolf. The logo for the Alabama artist's record label, Slumerica, is a flag of stars and lightning bolts. Heard says, “It was just going to be too much, so he asked if I could do the Confederate flag in his head, and in the back of my head I’m like, ‘what kind of stuff are you on?’”
Heard put his own feelings aside, however, and got to work. Fade N Up owner Corey “Scissorhands” Sutter says it is one of the more interesting requests he has heard in his shop, despite employing barbers of all ethnicities. “I’ve actually done Black Power in they head and all this type of stuff. It’s been some gang members that wanted their sets in they head, but I never thought that would happen.”
Sutter decided to take photos of the haircut to Facebook, pointing to his industry’s role in history. “The barber shop is the last place where you can come and talk about religion, politics, sports, girls, guys and all that type of stuff, and keep it in a fun, good manner,” says Sutter.
Some commenters expressed anger, while others, including customers at the shop, supported the business decision. “People portray it in different ways,” says customer Nidal Schawareb, “and with it being part of an album cover, I see it. I understand where that goes.”
Heard says the bottom line is that the man paid and left his chair a happy customer. “You have the right to…your opinion,” says Heard, “but at the end of the day your opinion doesn’t pay my bills, and I have kids to take care of.”