A Voice of Reason: The Power of Touch

There was a video montage made a few years back that showed several shaggy haired homeless people sit down in a hair stylist’s chair. Armed with a comb and shears the stylists got to work and the transformation was nothing short of magical.

As hair fell to the ground, the person beneath began to shine through. The rough and broken countenance was replaced with an excited beaming smile. To complete their new look, each was given new clothes making them ready to stand a fighting chance to reenter society.

Nancy Pereira of Swankd Hair Salon is one of these talented people that has the power to transform someone’s life, and does so on a regular basis by donating her talents to those less fortunate as well as being a sympathetic ear for a client in need of one.

Pereira stated, “In 2007, I started my career as a stylist after graduating from the most prestigious school in the world, Vidal Sassoon. It was there I was taught that hair is more than just hair. As a stylist we use the power of touch and senses in nearly every service. It’s fair to say most every client loves their time at the wash bowl. Who wouldn’t love a scalp massage? Our heads/hair is intimate and typically only touched by loved ones, doctors & hairstylists. Aside from creating a new look for a client, giving a scalp massage is my most favorite part of servicing my guests. Aside from receiving a new look, guests leave feeling good, relaxed and receive the gift of touch.”

But now she and others in her industry are greatly suffering as California mandates have not only closed their doors, but have so far denied them unemployment benefits.

She told me this past weekend, “I have zero source of income right now, have sold out of retail products and am only able to provide mini hair coloring kits for my clientele. Although my clients continue to support me through words of encouragement, tips and purchasing gift cards… that’s not their job alone to help small businesses. Where are our local leaders to stand up for our small town before it’s too late?…There’s no resources for me, there’s no help on paying my $500 a month private health insurance etc. Our Governor is implementing the same quarantine rules for Hanford as he does LA? It makes no sense and what works for one city may not work for another small town, we have different demographics & different population.”

To make matters worse, despite her ability to up her sanitation game well beyond normal state guidelines while also wearing masks and providing them to customers, the CA State Board of Barbering and Cosmetology has threatened to revoke the license of anyone doing what is essentially black market haircuts.

It’s very frustrating, infuriating, and heartbreaking to watch as the State takes away our choices and cripples small businesses like her’s and so many others. This is leading to the modern day version of the “Roarin’ 20s” where prohibition leads to hair salon speakeasies.

Those sitting comfortably at home collecting some form of income will be the first to make this argument for business and self autonomy sound superfluous by saying, “Oh you just want a haircut.” No. What we want is to not see the people in our community lose everything they’ve worked towards and fall into poverty despite their ability to operate safely. We also want to give at-risk people the choice to stay home if they wish.

As the Chair of the Libertarian Party of California, Mimi Robson stated, “We are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.” Compassion does not live in just the COVID vacuum. There’s more going on than what’s making the headlines and keeping people in hiding.

This is a multifaceted problem that is being poorly managed because our focus is directed at the microscope containing the virus so we ignore and deny compassion for the lives being destroyed. It is with this all-embracing comity that Libertarians are taking a stand for Liberty and the livelihood of our fellow human beings. Fear and intimidation are the dead ends and the shears cutting them away represents hope and courage as we start to take back control of our lives.

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