Minneapolis-based Denny Kemp Salon and spa is the newest salon to be in the news for in some form or another, attacking natural hair. Bianca Dawkins, a black woman with natural hair went in to get her hair straightened after making an appointment and explaining that she had naturally textured or curly hair. Once she arrived she was told by a salon stylist that her hair was “an animal that can’t be tamed.” Say what?
Although the salon is not touted as a natural hair specific establishment, Dawkins thought a simple style would not be that hard to do and got a whole bunch of negativity instead of service.
The stylist not only insulted her but brought over other stylists to look at her hair. When she asked if they do black hair the same male stylist replied with, “Well, it isn’t the 1950s or ’60s, where we can just put up a sign in the window.” Dawkins felt the sting of outdated notion of beauty. “In that moment, I was having my identity attacked,” Dawkins tells citypages and recounted the whole incident on her Facebook page. “I couldn’t believe what was happening. I just put my head down and walked out.”
The salon has since issued two statements now that the story has gone viral. The latest reads:
As many of you are reading about or have heard, our salon is going through a major learning curve. We would like to share what we have learned from our valued client Bianca and how we plan to move forward to serve both her and the rest of our community.
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. We hope it will be meaningful for everyone affected by this.
First, we extend our heartfelt apology to Bianca and to anyone else who has been hurt by this incident. Bianca was serviced by this stylist in the past without issue and we are working to ensure that nothing similar to what happened on Friday, June 10 happens in the future. Several of you have demanded that Justin be fired. We discussed this with Bianca and this was not her goal; we are moving forward with education, awareness, and a renewed commitment to serving all people in our diverse community.
While we are taking immediate action on this particular incident, we are also grateful for the door this opens to entering into a holistic dialogue about the gaps in skills and training that exist in our salon and the industry. 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.
We request that the threats of physical violence and hate speech stop so we can all move forward with greater awareness and understanding. We are human and, therefore, not perfect. We invite you to stay in touch with us on this journey of opportunity and share your insights into how our salon and the industry as a whole can grow its understanding of all cultures to better serve the entire community.
We think this apology is too little, too late — and treating black women disrespectfully is too often the norm.