The Barbershop and Black Male Bonding: Background information when reading Brother

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Brother

by David Chariandy

Brother by David Chariandy X
Brother by David Chariandy
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Jul 2018, 192 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Lisa Butts

Buy This Book

About this Book

The Barbershop and Black Male Bonding

This article relates to Brother

Print Review

Black BarbershopAs a young teen, Michael (in David Chariandy's Brother) begins spending time at the neighborhood barbershop, Desirea's, with his older brother and his friends. In the book, just as in life, black men visit the barbershop not just for haircuts, but to share their personal lives, discuss current events, listen to music, and just relax with their neighbors and friends.

In an ode to the barbershop published in Fader magazine, a journalist quotes a friend: "In a lot of ways barbers are our therapists. The shop is where I learned what being a black man was about early on," adding that there are "not many places that all men got together and could talk freely." Fader also published interviews with five black barbers from across the United States to gather their thoughts on the barbershop as a place of community and togetherness where men can exchange ideas. One barber explained that his shop is a place "where all types and ages of people [come] together to have an open dialog and growth," while another highlighted the importance of his role in his patrons' lives: "People trust me for their image in life, for the moment. I'm needed for several reasons and I'm a part of the process in all of them: first day of school, interview, job, wedding or date...It serves as a place of balance."

Obama at the BarbershopA journalist for the Black Youth Project, however, points out the ways in which the barbershop can be a breeding ground for toxic masculinity – for example, the sharing of sexist and homophobic viewpoints. While acknowledging that it can be a place to "heal and to love," he points out that this opportunity is usually restricted to heterosexual and cisgender men. Openly gay former NFL player Wade Davis spoke with the Huffington Post about his unique experience of being accepted at his barbershop; being "the 'gay football guy' in the shop has allowed customers to discuss everything from Frank Ocean to sexism and misogyny, to HIV in the black community, to the prison-industrial complex." In Brother, it is strongly implied that Francis and his best friend Jelly have an intimate relationship, though it is not stated outright, and if it is noticed by the boys' other friends at Desirea's, no one mentions it.

Getting Blood Pressure takenRecently, healthcare researchers have begun reaching out to men at barbershops about medical issues like the importance of screening for hypertension and prostate cancer. Research shows that many men are reluctant to seek out routine medical treatment, sometimes because of a distrust for doctors, sometimes because of lack of time or money. In an experiment spearheaded by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers went directly to the barbershop, where most black men go on a regular basis anyway, and conducted the tests there. During the screening, the researchers provided advice about methods for lowering blood pressure, and found that that men were more open to receiving this information in an informal setting where they felt at ease.

Barbershop, courtesy of plushstylephoto.com
Obama at the barbershop, courtesy of themancavebarberlounge.com
ASU professor Olga Idriss Davis checks the blood pressure of barber Marvin Davis, courtesy of asunow.casu.edu

This "beyond the book article" relates to Brother. It first ran in the August 29, 2018 issue of BookBrowse Recommends.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access, become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Brother
    Brother
    by David Chariandy
    Brother is the brief, moving account of how a single, tragic moment in time can alter the course of ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Islamic Enlightenment
    by Christopher de Bellaigue
    In this comprehensive and well-researched history, de Bellaigue examines the evolution of Islamic ...
  • Book Jacket: The Spy of Venice
    The Spy of Venice
    by Benet Brandreth
    Benet Brandreth's delightfully diverting historical thriller brings the Bard to vibrant life. ...
  • Book Jacket: Three Things About Elsie
    Three Things About Elsie
    by Joanna Cannon
    The novel opens with the primary narrator, Florence, prone on the floor after a fall. She is in her ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott

A crowning achievement of one of the finest American writers at work today.

About the book
Join the discussion!

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    French Exit
    by Patrick deWitt

    A brilliant and darkly comic novel from bestselling author Patrick deWitt.
    Reader Reviews

Win this book!
Win The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

A rich, spellbinding new novel from the author of The Lake House. On sale Oct 9.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

T Turn T S

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.