When people think of hair salons, they probably think of getting a haircut.
But for independent filmmaker Kyle Schickner, these stores are places of conversation about race.
“We have to start being able to talk about it openly, without people getting nervous or being canceled,” Schickner said.
His film, titled “A White Man Walks Into a Barbershop”, will premiere at the Temple Theater at 7 pm on Saturday June 12th. Profits will be donated to the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi.
For eight years, Schickner stopped at barber shops and churches across America to discuss race and racism.
As most of the film was shot in Meridian, the filmmaker decided to host the premiere here.
âThe plan was never to stop at Meridian,â he said. We stopped there for lunch and saw a barber shop and decided to go in. “
Schickner, who was born in New Jersey, said the idea for the film began after Barack Obama was elected in 2008. He said he created the film because he felt people didn’t were uncomfortable talking about race.
Filming the film allowed her to have reservations about race with people who were not in her circle of friends, Schickner said.
“He kind of surprised us”
When he arrived at Meridian, Schickner first stopped by Jenkins Barbershop after finding it on Google Maps.
âHe kind of surprised us when he walked into the barber shop,â recalls Kevin Lewis Sr., the store owner. âOf all the hair salons in town, he’s been to us. “
Lewis said Schickner, who is white, was so interested in the Southern experience that he went to church, to a football game and shared a dinner with Lewis’s family.
âIt felt good for him to walk into a black barbershop, attend a black church, have dinner,â Lewis said. “It was a privilege to have him at home to see what life is like in the South.”
Lewis hopes viewers get a glimpse of the black community by listening to the conversations at the hair and beauty salons featured in the film.
âIt’s our everyday life,â said Lewis. âWe want to enlighten people. “
For his part, Schickner hopes the film will make people more comfortable talking about race in America.
âWe have to start admitting that we still have work to do,â he said.
Tickets for the film can be purchased at Jenkin’s Barbershop at 1727 6th Street, the Temple Theater Box Office at 2320 8th Street, or online at barbershoppremiere.eventbrite.com.