A White barber in Vermont is receiving criticism after balking at giving a haircut to a Black would-be patron, according to the Associated Press.

Dr. Darryl Fisher, an African American from Taos, N.M. said he stopped by Mike’s Barbershop in Bellows Falls, Vt. on Oct. 5 while visiting medical practitioners and intended to get a haircut. He said he was visiting the area and considering locating in the town of about 3,500 located along the New Hampshire-Vermont border.

But as he entered the shop, a man turned him away telling him the barber wasn’t there. Fisher returned about an hour later to find that the very same man he had spoke to before was cutting a White man’s hair. Mike Aldrich, the man that Fisher encountered, is the owner of the shop and says he gets about one Black customer per year and has trouble cutting African-American hair.

“I’m sorry,” he tells his Black customers, according to the AP. “You can sit in the chair if you want, but I’ve tried cutting it, and I have problems. Whether I don’t have the right equipment, I don’t know.”

Fisher, 57, didn’t confront Aldrich after his discovery, but he went home and wrote a letter to the editor of the town’s local newspaper the Brattleboro Reformer, saying he wouldn’t want to live or work in the town if that’s the way merchants treat would-be customers. .

“The way he looked at me–and this is just my opinion–and the way he just said, ‘No,’ when I asked if the barber was there and wouldn’t tell me when the barber was coming in, and then 15 minutes later he’s cutting somebody else’s hair. Through my experience with racism, I thought it was racially motivated,” Fisher told the AP.

Aldrich, 69, later admitted that it was wrong to lie to Fisher, but he just didn’t want to cut his hair.

Following the incident, protestors gathered in Bellows Falls on Nov. 6 with signs reading “Hate has no home here,” according to the Brattleboro Reformer. Fisher explained to reporters that the demonstration made him feel more at ease in the town and when he returns he won’t be so nervous.

Aldrich is not alone, as other White barbers’ inability to cut Black hair has been a sore point among Black barbers for years.

Barber Tony, who didn’t give the AFRO his last name, cuts hair at Flava Barbershop in Baltimore. He says that Blacks are usually trained how to cut all types of hair, but the curriculum is usually not the same for Whites.

“We go in learning how to do our hair and as part of the test you have to learn how to cut hair,” Tony said. “When they go to get their license, the situation is different because they cut a model of their hair and are not trained to cut our hair. If was really true to the ethic of what do, then he should have learned or should have at least taken remedial classes.”

But Tony explained that he believes the Vermont barber would have been more respected if he was straightforward with Fisher about not being able to cut his hair from the beginning.

“I would respect a person who would let me know from the start,” Tony said. “If you would just make it clear to me, everything would be good.”


Gregory Dale

AFRO News Editor