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White Minneapolis Salon Drowning in Backlash After Telling Black Client Her Hair is ‘an Animal He Couldn’t Tackle’

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Bianca Dawkins has gone viral on social media after sharing her unsatisfactory hair appointment at a white salon in Minneapolis June 10. Dawkins shared her experience on Facebook after her appointment. She writes when she tried to get her naturally curly hair straightened, a white hair stylist “flipped out. He said he didn’t have the time to do my hair and that my hair was like an animal he couldn’t tackle.”

She tells City Pages that beautician Justin Waltenberg called over five other stylists at the white-owned Denny Kemp Salon and Spa to see who could do her hair. None could style it.

“So, what? Black girls can’t come in here and get their hair done?” she asked.

Waltenberg replied, “Well, it isn’t the 1950s or ’60s, where we can just put up a sign in the window.”

She left and headed to VIP Hair & Nail Salon instead.

Salon owner Denny Kemp tells City Pages in a separate interview the last exchange was misinterpreted. Kemp said Waltenberg meant he was glad the business could not turn away Black clients.

When Kemp called Dawkins, she says on her Facebook page that she was unimpressed with claims that 30 people’s jobs were in jeopardy.

“He told me that everything that is happening was not fair,” she wrote.

Regarding the incident, Dawkins says she “really felt disrespected being that I had already called a couple days before to let them know I would need a two-hour window frame and someone who could do my hair. What hurts my feelings the most, is that today my hair was called an animal by a white man who knows nothing about black girl curls. I’m disappointed.”

In response to the matter, Denny Kemp salon posted a message on their Facebook page June 10.

“Though we believe that our stylist meant no harm and simply spoke inarticulately, his words were perceived as hurtful and completely contrary to what our salon stands for,” it said in part. “We have reached out to the client to apologize to her directly and spoken with our stylist in order to ensure that he understands that his words – intentional or not – were improper and offensive.”

As Dawkins’ story gained traction with many calling and emailing the salon, the former customer – who had visited the salon once when she used to chemically straighten her hair and another time to cut away the relaxed ends – said Denny Kemp had not issued an apology to her. Dawkins wrote on Facebook that the company stated they will continue to employ Waltenberg since “he’s a good stylist.”

Kemp confirms this in the interview saying he is “highly talented,” though he says Dawkins did not want him fired over the offensive comments. Still, the salon’s 5-star Facebook rating dropped to just 1.7 stars since the story has made waves, according to City Pages.

The company apologized publicly June 14 in a lengthy Facebook post describing how thankful they were to Dawkins “for insight with helping us develop an action plan to address and move past a highly regrettable episode in our salon history.”

The statement adds that the salon is “moving forward with education, awareness, and a renewed commitment to serving all people in our diverse community.”

Dawkins maintains she has never received an apology and in the last few days has been sharing a local area panel discussion on natural hair, which was inspired by her experience.

“The best thing I can do is forgive Justin and Denny Kemp Salon and Spa for the hurt they caused me,” she wrote June 15. “You won’t be able to heal if you don’t recognize that everybody isn’t perfect. Although I never received an apology, I will move forward by taking constructive action.”

What people are saying

31 thoughts on “White Minneapolis Salon Drowning in Backlash After Telling Black Client Her Hair is ‘an Animal He Couldn’t Tackle’

  1. In her statement she says that white men knows nothing about black girls hair. Then why is your black ass patronizing a white salon. Keep your money in the black community and you wouldn't have that problem.

  2. Good, you had an unsatisfactory hair appointment, maybe this is a learning experience for you. I don't blame Waltenberg, true, it's not the 50s or 60s when you put up a sign that said "whites only," one would think you would say Blacks only. Yes, you should have felt disrespected not by the stylist, but by you yourself, you disrespected yourself. (your hair) Then you come on the net to actually let Every One know how limited you are and how much you dislike yourself. How many Chinese women have you seen sitting in Black salons, or as a matter of fact, how many white women have you seen in Black salons?! My daughtersister, go sit down someplace or while at a Black beauty salon read a book. Not any book, but books about Our History, who we are as a people, The Mis-Education of the Negro (Carter G. Woodson) for starters. Learn to love yourself.

  3. Why would you go to a white hair salon to get your hair done? Black hair is most effectively styled by Black hairstylists. There was an excellent chance that no one there would have been able to do your hair. The first thing I check with a new salon is whether there's a Black stylist or 2, then I ask those stylists questions pertaining to my specific type of hair. Although I don't condone the stylist's words, either what he said or how he said it, sis, you were wrong for this one. #SideEye

  4. Nicole Best says:

    She had the right to go where ever they said they do hair. Sounds a little close being "allowed" to only use colored locations for our needs. As a person who has seen my fair share of regentrification, caucasions come into black salons all the time inqiring if they do thier hair. Unless I missed where they posted thier negative expereince on social media, they are not met with disrespect and any part of them being likended to an animal. Stop giving a pass to white racism..

  5. If he "knows nothing about black girl curls", why did she GO there? She's not the only black person in Minneapolis. She couldn't find a black salon? And if all else failed, she could have done her own hair. No sympathy.

  6. yeah shes a little…nuts. Have to be expecting attention from a berserker decendant

  7. If he "knows nothing about black girl curls", why did she GO there? She's not the only black person in Minneapolis. She couldn't find a black salon? And if all else failed, she could have done her own hair. No sympathy.

  8. That was my question. Are there no black salons in her town? Furthermore, must of us naturals do our own hair.

  9. No one is giving a pass to white racism, but what did she expect going to a white salon? Let's get real. I grew up in lilly white Colorado Springs and back then they told you point blank they couldn't do "ethnic" hair. Sure, now lots of salons do black hair, but they're doing relaxers. Hell, there aren't many black owned salons that do natural hair. I'm sorry, but how were her feelings so hurt? Did she just think racism up and went away? I just get tired of the younger set feeling shocked when they experience racism.

  10. This should not be news.

  11. Jackie Jones says:

    Some blacks still looking for exception from whites he will never like your black ass get over it. Stop letting him live in your head Rent Free.

  12. Minnesota is the place of the biggest linching in the usa occurred….genocidalists were imported from Europe to off the so called "civilized Indian"…the most mental health impaired Black folk I ever met live there as subjgates …"unclean" countryPrinces death,think on that. smh

  13. Elaine Pollard I am so glad someone else feels the same way

  14. I can't..all on her.

  15. Rob Jonez says:

    she's stupd!

  16. Ralph Rawls says:

    i have no sympathy for her, white salons and barber shops are not trained in african texture hair. it is not their fault should of taken your ass to a black beauty store and stop looking for attention

  17. The things people do for attention

  18. Yvette Renee says:

    I don't give racism a pass EVER but be for real. I know white women with mixed babies that struggle daily. I wish I would take this devine crown to some white person to destroy.

  19. its still a skill issue. the butt called her an animal cause he didnt have the techniques. Hes a idiot twice. Herjust silly

  20. Venus Aradia says:

    while I sympathize with the customer;s pain, the reality is that most Caucasians have no idea how to work with type 4 hair and can barely handle tighter type 3 hair. This may not necessarily be a statement of prejudice but simply of lack of a particular skill. This is like a man making an appointment with a gynecologist for an erection problem. That doctor is simply not trained to handle that particular issue or clientelle. I have even seen the horrors of this with how White women have no idea whatsoever what to do with their biracial childrens hair and it often ends up matting due to lack of ability to deal with it.

  21. Why are black folks always so ready to forgive white folks for the foul shit they do?

  22. Karen Miner says:

    Because forgiveness isn't about the color or your skin. I am a white woman who was treated racist, by some black girls in high school ,who were going to beat me up for dating a black guy. In Junior High, I was treated racist by white people, who pushed me around, called me names, spit on me and wouldn't let me have a seat on the bus, because I had too white of skin and red hair. It took me a long time to forgive them, but I found that when you forgive someone, you feel better. Why should I go around feeling unhappy and angry at them, which only hurts me? When you don't forgive people, you will always have a negative attachment to them and you want to unattach yourself from that. Plus, from a spiritual point of view. I have done things to hurt people I care for and how can I expect to be forgiven if I can't forgive others? Also, Jesus has shown us the power of forgiveness, which is one of the last things He did on the cross. It's just a higher way of being. I applaud her for that.

  23. After a strong track record of racism in this country, why are we shocked when white people show who they are and what they think. It boggles the mind that we continue to expect anything different than what they've perpetrated since 1492. One thing for sure, they are a consistent nation of people.

  24. Question, why is it that in beauty it is required that black people know how to do white hair, but the same is not required of white stylist to pass the board. I never could figure that out.

  25. Why the heck was she there in the first place!! I don't have one bit of sympathy for that type of foolishness!! Take your behind to a black stylist who is familiar with your hair!! What kind of stupidity is this?!! She goes into an all white facility and expects that they have been trained to work on the infrequent black customer that just mighty come in once in a blue moon? Why?! To make herself feel special?! And now she's looking for sympathy!! Sorry!! The only sympathy that I have is for her ignorance!!

  26. Like as stated above, as black men do we go to super cuts??? No we don't. Do we like every black barber shop?? No…The point is however you go to the places that cater to you. Not the other way around. That's what she gets. I'm sure when she inquired about their services she didn't say she was black. Because apparently they didn't feel comfortable doing it again. I don't know where you live but to fix yo mouth to say ALL black hair salons are the same is blasphemous period….We create too much to ALL be the same.

  27. Shelley Hill says:

    That is the real question, and I have wondered why that is so since I was a child. To me the stylist was inadequately trained, as are most, but not all white stylists, and he was definitely out of line calling her hair animal, especially since almost all animals have straight fur, uinless it's a poodle.
    She was still stupid to go to a salon without asking first if they could do Black hair.

  28. When I went to school for cosmetology everyone in my class was white, But we were all tought how to do everything that was in as far as hair styles for african american patrons, Makes me wonder what they arent teaching them today.

  29. I'm going to say she has the right to be upset. If you call a salon and ask for a recommendation for a stylist who can do your hair well and then is treated terribly you have the right to be upset. With that said I work in a salon in a Minneapolis suburb. We do all types of hair although there are stylists that are better at certain types than others. It is not uncommon for a client to call and request a stylist who works with fine hair or curly hair or short hair or long hair or thick hair. . A big one is for specialty updos( we do have stylists who do not do them) As stylists we tend Unintentionally end up with a "specialty" just through referrals. And just like white people have different hair textures so do black people.
    This stylist handled it awful and the language used was unacceptable and personally I wouldn't step foot in this salon because of it. If he couldn't perform the service he should have apologized and referred her to someone that could, not make a scene!
    So my advice to all women would be to get referrals and check out bios of the stylists on line and you can alway book a consultation before the service.

  30. That is all this is.

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