Great, Now My Manicure is Political Too
I have always been conflicted on the conversation of black women going to black owned nail salons only. I am very particular about my nails. I see my hands all day, every day so their appearance means a lot to me. I’ve been going to the same nail salon since I moved to Atlanta 7 years ago and have tried different salons in between but have always gone back to see Leslie from Vietnam. I have tried several black owned nail salons in Atlanta and so far, I’m unimpressed. Not because they are black, of course. To know me is to know that I ride for all things black. My obgyn is a black woman, my therapist is a black woman, my president is black, I go to black owned wine stores and package stores. I do my due diligence to find black owned businesses in my area. It’s not hard in Atlanta so for that I am grateful. However, I do depart at my nail salon experience.
I have argued with people about this time and again because I am aware that we spend a lot of money in beauty and to keep those dollars in our community is essential to growing our wealth. It is widely reported that when an Asian person receives a paycheck, it takes 30 days for their dollar to leave their community, the same for a black person takes only 6 hours. Just 6 hours. That is a complex tragedy to say the least. I contribute to this tragedy by spending my money in places like Asian-owned nail salons. Trust me, I feel guilty about it sometimes, especially when I see videos like the one of the brawl in Brooklyn where my sister was completely disrespected. But as silly as this may sound: Chris, the salon owner, has done nothing to me but make me feel like a valued customer. They know me by name, they suggest new colors based on my previous choices and remember what I like. And most importantly, I don’t have to wait long at all whenever I go.
I won’t use this space to speak ill of the black-owned nail salons that I have patronized because I do not believe there’s one single experience that defines them all. But if I’m being honest, I haven’t felt valued, instead I feel like a bother. Don’t get me wrong, it infuriates me to hear of the stories where my black women have been mistreated. But, in full transparency, my salon experience is solely about me and what I want. Sometimes, self-care for me means doing something familiar that won’t cause anxiety. And honestly, I tend not to speak up when I receive a service from a black owned business that I’m not satisfied with because I just want to be supportive of us.
When I find a black-owned nail salon that feeds all my personal needs, such as consistently great customer service, affordable prices, and an overall bomb ass manicure, I will become a regular. But for now, I am content with Leslie and nem. And I won’t even speak on doing my nails myself because that’s not my ministry and I would never disrespect my hands like that. I know you probably think I sound ignorant or whatever but there are many other women who think the same thing I do, we just feel guilty so we don’t vocalize it. Take comfort in knowing that I will never diminish my blackness or my beliefs when I am in these spaces and that I make my pride in my black womanhood known whenever I speak. I support the boycott and will participate in the protests because salons like the one in Brooklyn need to be closed, but I will also still go see Leslie.