“To be honest with you, they just don’t know how to cut black hair,” said Shaun Gaskins, who works at the Cups & Co. coffee shop in the Russell Senate Office Building and has previously had his hair cut in the Senate barber shop.
A black Capitol Police officer said the belief that the shop, which is in the basement of the Russell Building, was mainly for whites was widely held among his black colleagues.
“They discourage us from using it. ... They have the conception that it is for Caucasians,” he said.
Still, not all black staffers said they were dissatisfied with the service they received at the cuttery.
As Cornelius Driggins, a Senate data technician, noted, “I’ve been there twice and they did a good job.”
After a discussion with the representative of the Sergeant-at-Arms office a little less than two weeks ago, Foster said all of his demands — which included adding photographs that depict hairstyles suitable for diverse ethnicities, offering more black hair care products, and ensuring that at least one barber was trained to properly cut and style black hair — were agreed to.
An official from the Sergeant-at-Arms office confirmed that an individual from the office had met with Foster and that his concerns would be examined.
Foster, the self-described “one-man rebel,” left the meeting assured that “the Sergeant-at-Arms is making every effort to take care of the problem.”
“They realize that this problem has not been corrected and now they are going to have to do something,” said Foster, though he noted that no time frame was established during the discussion.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.