Barbershop Wisdom: Lessons from a D-1 Dad is the life story of Justin Johnson into manhood and fatherhood. "My first child got me off the streets. My second child taught me how to love, and the third taught me to expand my arms wide." From the the streets of North St. Louis to the suburbs of Edwardsville, Illinois, Justin shares his struggles, insights and victories into manhood and fatherhood. Always honest, he takes the audience on his journey, a journey that is ever on-going. Central in his story is the role of the barbershop, the only place where he felt safe and nurtured growing up, while surrounded by violence, poverty and longing in the streets and at home. He has continued to offer that safe haven by having his own barbershop. Once street hustler, turned entrepreneur he has always had a barbershop where he could offer a safe and nurturing space for men in the black community. In writing this book with Dr. Aminata Cairo, a connection has been made with Turkish and Moroccan barbershops in the Netherlands, where the barbershop also offers a safe haven for men in marginalized communities. This book, in sharing Justin's story is not just an insight into one man's life, it offers hope for men and all those who love men and boys all over the world. "People need to know that men have feelings too.", said one participant in a barbershop story circle talk session that was organized inspired by this book. Indeed they do, and we need to hold space for their stories. Justin Johnson has opened the way by sharing his story.
1 Divine 01 2 D-1 Dad 03 3 Growing up 06 4 My father 12 5 Sidney 13 6 Sidney II 17 7 When trauma becomes normal 20 8 The barbershop 25 9 Mom took a break 29 10 G 31 11 G II 35 12 Mom 39 13 God spoke to me 42 14 How it started 45 15 Pushing academics 49 16 Becoming an entrepreneur 52 17 I took a leave of absence 56 18 Finding a way back 57 19 The shoebox 60 20 Tamika 64 21 Finding a way forward 65 22 At the field 70 23 Sports lessons 71 24 Fatherhood reflection 75 25 Barbershop wisdom 80 26 Red lines, light posts, and tears 83 27 Jada 87 28 Jorden 89 29 Justin Jr. 93 30 I come from 97 Epilogue 99
The barbershop was special to me then and it is special to me now. As an entrepreneur I have owned various businesses. Throughout it all I have been the owner of a barbershop, just because it is what I love to do. I love to offer the space as it was given to me back then. The barbershop is our sacred space. It is the space for men in the black community where we can be ourselves, talk “real talk”, chastise, tease, and laugh with each other. It is where you can come to be fed, nurtured and nourished. It is where we take care of each other physically, aesthetically, intellectually, emotionally, spiritually.
Now you can see some crazy things too. You can see grown men who don’t deal well with reality and escape. Or you have those who reach back to an earlier time in their lives and who get stuck in reliving that time. Nothing cute about grown men trying to act like teenagers. You also have youngsters that have not had guidance and come in with their puffed up chest, not even knowing how to greet or relate to people. That’s why we always make sure to greet and connect with them, take some of that puff out of their chest. You don’t have to prove anything to come in here, you can just be yourself. And then there are the women. Some bring their sons, hoping we will fix more than their hair. There are all kinds of men and women dynamics that have affected us, from absent fathers to overbearing mothers, to relationship issues. ×