African-American barber cuts COVID-19 stigma short

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By admin

Equipped with his golden trimmer and white comb, Mike Brown, a barber in a modest suburb of Washington, fights prejudices about COVID-19 among his African-American customers, who die more from the disease, but are less vaccinated.

To this barber whom he has known “since he was little,” Kerdell Porter, a postman in his sixties, confides having had his doubts about the vaccine. It’s a ploy to “kill” African Americans, his friends argued.

“I do not trust the vaccine: the first person I know who had it fell in the apples,” also says Akeem Momoh, a black teenager who sweeps the floor of The Shop Hair Spa for a little money. pocket since he was a child.

Mike Brown is not surprised at such mistrust.

African-American barber cuts COVID-19 stigma short

Like him, all his clients have heard of the study in Tuskegee, that town in Alabama in which scientists employed by the American authorities studied, from the 1930s, the effects of syphilis on black men, for 40 years, without providing them with treatment, in order to observe the course of the infection.

“There is great caution because of the events of the past,” said Brian Ayers, a 49-year-old black man, having his beard trimmed.

For Mike Brown, the discrimination suffered by African Americans is the reason for their mistrust of the health system in general and vaccination in particular.

“They refuse to go to the doctor until their arms are about to fall”, laments the forty-something with orange shoes, who says to comb judges, garbage collectors, bandits …

African Americans, who make up less than half of Washington’s population, account for 75% of its deaths from COVID-19. Inequalities that are transposed in access to the vaccine, with for example the difficulties, in certain impoverished black neighborhoods, to make an appointment online.

“Marriage counselor”

So the hairdresser has sought to put the trust that his clients place in him, whom they consider to be his “family”, to profit.

After his father died from a long illness, Mike Brown joined forces with a doctor to help prevent colon cancer and heart disease.

African-American barber cuts COVID-19 stigma short

Already “marriage counselor and fashion consultant”, he has applied since the start of the pandemic to praise, between two scissors, the merits of barrier gestures and vaccines.

To conspiracy theories heard on social networks, Mike Brown returns statistics, data and quotes from experts. On the four red walls of the establishment, COVID-19 prevention posters are now mingled with press clippings and a clock bearing the image of Barack Obama.

“I am proud to relay reliable information to our community,” he says.

His efforts are paying off: three of his clients who were once skeptical have since received their dose.

African-American barber cuts COVID-19 stigma short

By dint of teaching and, he admits, a few remonstrances from his wife, the factor Kerdell Porter also decided to roll up his sleeves for the vaccine: “I am only waiting for my call!”