SHREVEPORT-BOSSIER, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – NBC 6 is promoting healthy discussions on race with our series “Voices of Courage.” Two barbershop owners of different races, on opposite sides of the Red River, are using their businesses to promote racial understanding.
Joey Guin is white and owns Joseph Guin Barber in Shreveport. Jorelle Branch is bi-racial and owns Phanum’s Hair Studio in Bossier City. In order to build empathy and help heal racial division, they plan to swap barbershops.
“We talked about trading ownership roles on a Saturday,” said Guin. “From neighborhood to neighborhood, we can open up, not a monologue, but a dialogue and really start the conversation.”
“My goal is unity. Stop being divided by a bridge. Stop being divided by culture,” Branch said. “I’m tired of it and there’s definitely going to have to be a change.”
Guin says candid conversations with Branch have helped Guin realize the work he needs to do on himself.
“It has made me think and sit in that place and step out of the arrogance of what I have now realized is some privilege,” Guin shared.
Guin says in the past, fear has prevented him from stepping up to address racist comments or racial injustice.
“Scared to offend, scared to run off business, scared to do any of those things so I say nothing,” said Guin. “And I’ve made that okay in my heart so I didn’t have to feel bad about it.”
Now he’s addressing the fear and ending the silence. He and Branch are encouraging others to do the same.
“We should start being more comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Guin said.
“We’re going to definitely do what we need to do, in hopes of a change,” said Branch.
The two owners are now working to schedule a date for the barbershop swap.