“I believe, as an artist, that your primary goal should be to build an important body of work that will be here long after you’re gone. A body of work that your family can be proud of. A body of work that will make people feel good about themselves, that will make them think, laugh and cry. That’s what I’ve always tried to do. Make something meaningful.”
Derrick Barnes captures one of the most pivotal moments of a black boy’s life: his first haircut. Crown is a walkthrough experience that highlights the pleasures of getting that fresh cut. Paired with captivating words, illustrator Gordon James depicts black men of all ages with different hairstyles, revealing how diverse and complex black hair is! We see men with a fade, a faux hawk, dreadlocks, and more. Derrick Barnes talks about everything from getting the cape draped over you and getting a line up, feeling that sting when the barber applies the alcohol and the commitment to wearing a durag to perfect your waves. No matter the hairstyle, every black boy should leave the shop feeling like royalty, and Crown definitely adheres to this goal.
When I reflect on my experience getting my haircut in my youth, it was a turning point in my life. The boost of confidence I had leaving the barbershop, being reinforced by other black men and women made me feel that I could conquer anything. As Derrick Barnes referred to, there wasn’t a test that I couldn’t ace, or an outfit that I couldn’t pull off.
I appreciate the Crown for detailing how important the haircut is in the black community. Seeing positive images of black men, and the black experience has great impact on the black youth of today. Often times the only imagery that we see of black people is negative. The Crown shows black kids that they matter, and their experience matters, even down to their haircut. It plays a major role in who they are, and how they exist in a world that already fights against them. It helps us as Black people to enjoy and be proud of our culture and heritage.
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut
Evanston, IL : Agate Bolden, 2017
Formats: Book, ebook, eAudiobook, Audiobook, Audiobook on CD
#OwnVoices at Richland Library is a way for African American staff to provide thoughtful and well written book reviews, book lists and blog posts to promote African American authors and their work about the African American experience. The series invites our customers to learn one more way we are continuing the conversation in our community and speaking our voice. Find more resources on race, equity and inclusion, here.