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“A stirring work . . . images meet text to convey a most handsome portrait of Black barbering in America as a revered cultural practice. Honest, intelligent, poignant—You Next is brilliant from cover to cover.” —Maurice Wallace, Rutgers University
An intimate photographic exploration of the ways Black barber shops operate as sites for the cultivation of Black male identity and wellness
Growing up, getting a haircut was a weekly event Antonio M. Johnson looked forward to more than anything. There in that tilted chair surrounded by members of his community and totems of a shared experience, Johnson felt safe—felt like anything was possible.
Barber shops are more than places simply to get a cut. They are where Black men can speak and receive feedback about who we are, who we want to be, and what we believe to be true about the world around us. The interpretation of the barber shop as community center falls short of capturing what they really are for so many Black men: sanctuaries in a hostile land.
You Next is an intimate photographic exploration of Black barber shops in major US cities—Gary, Indiana; Washington DC; New York City; Oakland; Atlanta; Los Angeles; Detroit; New Orleans; Montgomery; Memphis, and Johnson's hometown of Philadelphia.
These photos, interviews, and essays tell the full story of the Black barber shop in America.
About the Author
Antonio M. Johnson is an emerging visual artist whose work focuses on concepts of home and healing. His primary medium is photography, and he has earned a reputation for capturing scenes that communicate the complex beauty of urban spaces and everyday people. Johnson was raised in West Philadelphia and educated at Morgan State University, a historically Black college in Baltimore. Today, he calls Atlanta home.
“The stunning black-and-white images along with its writings make this a must-have keepsake. Antonio Johnson is to be saluted for creating such an important historic record for future generations.” —Jamel Shabazz, documentary photographer and creator of Back in the Days
“This is a beautiful book.” —Nancy, Goodreads
“A much-need addition to writing and documentation of Black barber shop culture. As a documentary photographer, writer, and researcher, Johnson’s unwavering love for Black people and Black culture shines through.” —Kimberly Drew, coeditor of Black Futures and author of This Is What I Know About Art
“Johnson’s photographs immerse me in this warmly familiar world. You Next reassures me this most essential of Black institutions will endure. This is a book to treasure.” —John Edwin Mason, University of Virginia associate professor
“In Johnson’s book, the exchange between countless barbers and their clients reveals a singular refuge constructed by these Black boys and men, peacocking beauty, intellect, labor, and desire. It’s a stunning study of the power of safe space, tradition, and transformation.” —Antwaun Sargent, The New Black Vanguard
“Johnson has created a snapshot of one of the Black community’s oldest institutions. With a keen eye, he evokes memory of community and ritual [and] gives a glimpse into the Black man’s sanctuary.” —Hank Willis Thomas, artist and creator of All Things Being Equal…, Pitch Blackness, and Winter in America