I grew up on the east side of Oklahoma City. The infamous Corey Sutter—Scissor Hands— and his then barbershop—Next to Justice, was a 15-minute walk from my home. Scissor-Hands is a local celebrity, a staple in Oklahoma City's Black community. He’s a Black father, a friend, an entrepreneur, an avid Sooner fan and at times, a patron of impoverished Black single mothers. However, to expand his clientele and cross the racial borders that define Oklahoma City, Corey made a very controversial business decision. On Saturday, July 1, 2017, at 7:37 am, the infamous barber uploaded a picture of a first-time client that would shake the very foundation his new Barbershop Fade N Up was built on. The client, a white male, walked into the black-owned barbershop and requested an employee cut the Confederate flag and the SS lightning bolt into his hair—both symbols of white supremacy—stating that it was a tribute to his favorite rapper Yelawolf. Corey Sutter, the owner okayed the request, a risky, yet calculated business move.
The picture and banter have been met with mass media attention. The media attention is what Corey Sutter wanted. However, I am not sure he considered the message it sent to his long time Black consumers.
In a city with a rich racist history, for obvious reasons, Oklahoma’s black community is in a huge hullabaloo. In an era where Black people are literally fighting for their lives and Corey Sutter made a calculated decision to put business over unity. For that reason, most people will talk angrily and biasedly about the impact of his decision. However, I will not. Instead, I will discuss three truths that have been highlighted by this business transaction:
1.Denying one haircut doesn’t change Oklahoma’s racist history.
If you aren’t apart of the Thunder organization, Oklahoma City isn’t a space that brings many victories to its Black citizens. So, I can understand why a large portion of the Black community viewed this as an opportunity for Corey to win one for the home team. However, denying this haircut would have meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. Oklahoma is a racist, white Republican state that has been further empowered by the recent election of America’s 45th president. In fact, a Republican has carried Oklahoma in each presidential election since 1968. Corey made a bad business decision, he didn’t empower Oklahoma’s white populous.
2.Every barber with Dreads ain’t for the cause.
I know. I know. Mr. Sutter doesn’t have dreads anymore but this Aquemini line seemed so fitting. Corey is a barber. He is not an activist. He is not a social justice advocate. He is not DeRay Mckesson. The guardians of “wokeness” cannot force him to move in the direction of the movement. If he, Corey “Scissor Hands” Sutter, views the audacity of this apparent racist client as an opportunity to capitalize, let him.
3.People hear what they see.
There is no one person that can force Corey Sutter to understand the impact of this erroneous and irresponsible act. Conversely, if Oklahoma’s Black community walks away from the Fade N UP establishment, Corey will see what he should have heard.
Take your money to another barbershop, it’s that simple.