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The Racially Fraught History of the American Beard - The Atlantic

It may seem strange that barbering, which required practitioners to hold razors to their customers’ throats, was dominated by men of color in Revolutionary America. But the reasons for this were simple. Before the American Revolution, free white workers were few and their labor was expensive—especially in the southern colonies. So slaveholders in need of grooming often turned to their enslaved workforces. "A Barber's Shop at Richmond, Virginia," from The Illustrated London News, March 9, 1861 After the Revolution, a different set of factors compelled African-Americans to work as barbers. In a new country that prized personal independence, service work seemed abhorrent to many white citizens...

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