It was past 1 a.m. in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Memorial Day weekend, on Fulton Street between Throop and Nostrand. A few bodegas and a fried chicken spot were open, supported by gaggles of hungry young people bubbling up from the subway every few minutes. Hip-hop from passing cars with windows open or tops down melted into the night. But for the most part, it was quiet. This strip of Fulton is dominated by 26 storefronts that specialize in black hair, but at this hour, most were dark, their gates down.
One shop, however, was open for business. It was a cavernous salon with a black tile floor and white walls, and its door was propped open. Black chairs ringed the room, and an island of hair dryers took up its center. This was Cherry’s Unisex Salon. Two barbers and four customers lounged in chairs. A short, muscular man wearing a black T-shirt and sweatpants, Cory Parker, took off his do-rag and sat in a barber chair, running a hand over short, curly hair as he consulted a chart of 30 men’s haircuts on a wall.
“I want between a 3, an 18 and a 27,” he said over his shoulder to a barber rummaging in a drawer.
“You’re not even looking at the chart! What did I say I want?”
The barber turned around and peered at the chart. “You said you want an 18, a 23 …” he started. They both laughed.