Cosmetology students, hairstylists describe a race divide

Andrew M. Santos

NEW YORK (AP) — After repeatedly being denied service by high-end salons because her hair was perceived as “too difficult” to style, Kanessa Alexander took an unusual step. She opened a shop of her own in a predominantly white Boston neighborhood with four Black stylists serving all hair textures.

“I wanted to be someplace where we existed but were not represented,” the African American cosmetologist said of her decision five years ago to set up Perfect 10 in West Roxbury, near where she grew up. “So many salons were just seeing a Black person.”

As a racial reckoning unfolds around the globe, Alexander and more than a dozen other people of color in the beauty industry trace such bias and discrimination in mostly white salons to the sidelining of formal education on tightly curled, coiled or kinky hair.

The lack of experience, or interest, is particularly acute when it comes

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20 Black Female Salon Owners and Hairstylists Will Receive $10,000 Grants

Andrew M. Santos

COVID-19 has hit a lot of businesses hard, especially salons. Temporary closures have made it so that many salon owners can no longer afford to keep employees on staff or even pay rent, thus forcing them to close permanently in the midst of a pandemic. Those that were lucky enough to survive the economic fallout of the virus long enough to reopen, are now trying to follow new safety protocols to ensure that they can continue taking clients.

Many of the salons that are open are being asked to operate their facilities by appointment only with only a certain about of clients allowed in. So even if they are functioning, they’re unable to do so in a way that maximizes their profit. When you add in the fact that many people are still scared to risk their health for a haircut (plus the costs of cleaning supplies, masks, disinfectants,

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