Salim Weldon: Community Building at the Barbershop
Salim is a Black Muslim American who, because of his upbringing, is very passionate about fashion, community and family.
Early childhood memories, my grandfather was a hard-working man, my grandmother was a hard-working woman, she basically had a home daycare. My childhood was good, if my grandparents struggled, I didn’t know, they never showed us that they struggled. We always went on vacation, my house was like a neighborhood house that everyone would come to, just because my grandmother was so loving. So even to this day, I travel a lot now, but I used to travel when I was younger, and I think that they laid a foundation for me, to be able to be successful in life.
So when I was younger, just seeing some of my friends, I had a very very very close friend, I call him my brother, his name is Khalid, Khalid is our barber, he is actually a celebrity barber now, he cuts Luke Dubois’s hair, Lil Uzi, he cuts everybody’s hair, he lives in Atlanta now. He was the first person that I knew that was fashion forward, who always wore high-end clothes, Gucci, Louis, and I looked up to him. He was the first man in our community, besides my grandfather, that I saw that was a family man, that always dressed nice, that went to work and provided for his family. That honestly molded my life, just being friends with him, seeing what he does, he cut my hair since I was 8 years old. Just the culture, the whole culture, if you think of the barbershop in our community, the barbershop is like a therapeutic setting where little boys grow up to be men.
There are so many different conversations inside that barbershop, even the way we dress, some people might get dressed to go to the club, but we dressed up to go to the barbershop because our barber dressed really nice, and everybody in the barbershop used to talk about what we had on. So as a young kid, I always knew about fashion, I always was around Barique, that owned the scheme, he has a younger brother, named Aswar Himala, he passed away, this is my friend, he actually gave me Shahada, and he opened my heart up into Islam, even though I was born Muslim, but I grew up with my grandparents, that were not Muslim. So I just took Shahada to just claim it for myself, when I got older, so just being with that family, they really helped me, they kind of molded everything with the culture in Philadelphia.
The barbershop was so important to me and my barber is so important to me, that from 8 years old, all the way up to when I was in college, nobody else cut my hair besides him. The reason why I had to let somebody cut my hair when I was in college, I really had to take these pictures for college, I couldn’t make it home, because the University was 2 and half hours from Philadelphia. So we were basically raised by the barbershop, so me going to the barbershop when I was 8 years old, playing football, my whole barbershop would come to watch me play football, the whole barbershop would come, and then me growing up, going to high school, playing sports. Then, me telling people in the barbershop, “Hey, I went to college”, these guys are pushing me and promoting me. Even some of the guys that were in the neighborhood, that weren’t doing right, inside the barbershop, they would tell us as youngsters, “This is not what you want to do, this is not your lifestyle, stay focused.”.
As a Muslim Black male, I have to always be careful, so I have a rule, that after a certain time in the night, I have to always make sure that I’m inside the house. I’m not scared, I’m just cautious. There is nothing outside at a certain time, unless I’m working at my factory, but even at my factory, I have a cutoff time, just to make sure that I’m in the house. I don’t put myself in situations that I can’t get myself out of. I’m very conscious of certain things, but when you look at the things that are going on in the world, the racism, the prejudice, the protests, its just the same, I just ask Allah to protect all of us.
If I could tell something to a younger Salim, is to stay focused, don’t get to a point where you are upset at certain things and then you just cut people of, maybe have some kind of dialogue about it. Just realize what’s really important because some times I might think that something is important that’s not important, or I am a person that does not forgive easily, but Allah has opened my heart to certain things. I might think you might have did me wrong, because I am a nice person, a good person, I might just remove myself away from you. Sometimes, that person that you thought was wrong still needs to hear what they did. So, a younger Salim just needs to listen and not do some of the things that he did back in the day. But, Alhumdullilah, my life is good.