Salon calls black woman's hair 'animal that can't be tamed'
One Minneapolis hair salon has learned the hard way that disrespecting one customer is like disrespecting thousands.
When Bianca Dawkins, 24, made an appointment at Denny Kemp Salon and Spa in Minneapolis, she simply asked for a blowout and let the salon know up front that it would take a couple hours to straighten because she had "textured hair." She had gone natural last year and cut out her relaxer to embrace her curls.
However, Dawkins says when she sat in the chair, stylist Justin Waltenberg grabbed some of her curls and replied saying her hair was "an animal that can't be tamed."
The humiliating moment only became worse when other stylists reportedly came to inspect Bianca's hair and explained they weren't up to the task either.
Dawkins says she asked, "So, what? Black girls can't come in here and get their hair done?"
"Well, it isn't the 1950s or '60s, where we can just put up a sign in the window," the stylist allegedly replied, referring to segregationist practices of serving customers based on race.
That's where Dawkins drew the line.
"In that moment, I was having my identity attacked," Dawkins told CityPages.com. "I couldn't believe what was happening. I just put my head down and walked out."
Dawkins' story has since gone viral on social media and the salon has posted an apology, saying that they are going through a "learning curve":
"Thanks to Bianca and her colleague for insight with helping us develop an action plan to address and move past a highly regrettable episode in our salon history... As both a salon with strong ties to Minnesota's communities of color and also as an industry leader, we affirm that every person who enters our doors deserves to feel welcome, included, and beautiful. We failed to do that for one of our clients and we hope that she gives us a chance to make good on our promise. We also ask that you do the same."
The salon's owner Denny Kemp reported receiving threats of violence and the salon's five-star rating on Facebook has dropped to 1.7 stars. Kemp says he does not plan to fire Waltenberg.
As for Dawkins, she's moving on by hosting a "Black Hair Matters" panel about styling natural hair and even before she received an apology, post online that she would forgive the salon.
"The best thing I can do is forgive Justin and Denny Kemp Salon and Spa for the hurt they caused me," wrote Dawkins. "You won't be able to heal if you don't recognize that everybody isn't perfect... I will move forward by taking constructive action."