Barbershop Talk Series

Black Men & Misconceptions

Many Black men have a special relationship with their barbers. This unique connection has resulted in a series of events called the Barbershop Talks, where the “neighbourhood barbershop” is used to create a safe space for Black community members to meet.


Barbershop Talk Series: Locked up, Getting Out & STAYING OUT!

Broadcasting from Toronto, Ottawa & Winnipeg.

When: Friday, November 19th, 2021


  • 7:00 PM-9:30 PM (EST)
  • 6:00 PM-8:30 PM (CT)


  • Toronto – Stubz Hair Studio
  • Winnipeg – Roots Salon (Central Time Zone)
  • Ottawa – The Rite Cut
  • Zoom

About this event

In 2004, African American singer Akon wrote and produced the “street anthem” “Locked Up.” Despite that the song was released in the United States, it achieved a top 10 Billboard ranking. The song was also a Billboard success ranging in the top 10 in France, Germany, and Canada. The tune depicted Akon’s lived experiences in the United States’ prison system as a marginalized young Black man. He sings about his encounters with police leading to his arrests and about the prison system keeping him behind bars. Considering the success of Akon’s Billboard hit song, his once lived experience is, and continues to be, a reality for marginalized young Black men to this day in Canada.  

What can be done to prevent incarceration and social segregation and to meaningfully intervene in the lives of those at risk of involvement or already involved in illegal activities? How can we support Black men and boys who are released from prison or detention find ways to thrive and avoid both police involvement and return to lock up? In Canada’s major urban areas, marginalized Black men and boys continue to be disproportionately carded, racially profiled, arrested, denied bail, and incarcerated. Burdened with criminal records and often resorting to gang involvement merely to survive the prison experience (or worse, deported to countries where their lives can be taken with impunity), Canadian criminal law simply does not protect them. Where is the political will to support evidence-based prevention programming and to divert funding from organizations that practice suppression and segregation? 

serious black man visiting barber shop
Photo by Barik5ive on

Providing segregation (rather than preventative supports that improve the social conditions in which Black families live), the Canadian justice system punishes rather than restores and works to amplify and limit employment opportunities. The system sets former inmates up to fail, prohibiting access to accommodation and education and intensifying insecurity and poverty. Without other options, many Black men and boys must endure the humiliation of scavenging on the margins of society, never really becoming community-integrated, and never receiving the assistance with basic human needs, or trauma-informed mental health care, that they require. Impoverished Black men and boys are significantly overrepresented in the official crime statistics in relation to offending and victimization – and even those who avoid police involvement must negotiate the violence in their communities. As many as 3/4 of those released from lock-up re-offend within three years of release, creating a revolving door of incarceration and failure to thrive in the community. This severely destabilizes Black families and poor communities. With 94% of all Black people in Canada’s penitentiaries being men, the impact on Black families and communities is immense and devastating. 

On Friday, November 19th, 2021, The Barbershop Talks series will host a two-hour Zoom-casted/in-person (limited guests) event hosted by the University of Manitoba and local barbershops in Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa.  These events create space for young Black men to share in a supportive environment. Community members, academics, policymakers and students will be encouraged to imagine and strive to understand their realities and experiences with the Canadian prison system. This event encourages an “uncomfortable to get comfortable” dialogue, asking difficult questions and encouraging widespread participation. The aim is to arrive at strategies that would eliminate the need for segregation and support a successful transition from prison to community and family for Black men and boys currently exiting Canadian detention centres and prisons.  


  • Friday, November 19th, 2021


  • 7:00 PM-9:30 PM EST // 6:00 PM-8:30 PM (CT)


Please know the Barbershop Talk Series holds space for all our guests to be vulnerable to discuss and to share their lived experiences. 

This event is open to all Canadian, new Canadian and residing Canadian community members who wish to learn and share, with a warning that explicit violence will be discussed, which may be triggering for some. This event employs Zoom to reach locals and those outside of Winnipeg, Toronto and Ottawa communities. 

In-person Barbershop Gatherings 

Small groups of Black men and boys will be invited to receive free haircuts while listening to special guests and participating in the discussion. 


ACMP will be giving away a pair in each city. Register NOW for your chance to WIN!

i love you wall decor
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

Event Resources

Here are some links about re-integration into the community. 

Prison Bag 

Resistance Podcast 
A sad but true and familiar story.

Wisdom of Trauma with Resmaa Menakem and Gabor Maté 

Yusef Salaam spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But he refuses to be bitter:

Snoop Dogg Talks New Def Jam Role, Losing His Mother, Eminem, Dr. Dre

Previous Talks

man in orange shirt sitting on chair
Photo by RODNAE Productions on

In these informal meetings, participants are encouraged to openly discuss Black masculinity and critical issues that affect Black men and boys in Canada. Besides stimulating conversations, the idea is to brainstorm about solutions to some of the significant stresses Black men and boys face.

Here’s a brief look into our safe space.

Recognizing The Harms Of Normalizing The Absent Black Father

Respecting the Black Men Who Came Before Us

What is the Barbershop Talk Series?

Interested in getting involved?

cheerful black businessman browsing laptop with son

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