Opinion: Dazed and Confused

Donnell Suggs, Editor-in-Chief Atlanta Voice

by Donnell Suggs | theatlantavoice.com| The owner of Rocky’s Barbershop, a small Black-owned business located on Piedmont Rd. in Buckhead, is confused. Rocky Jones allowed his small barbershop to be the site of a small business roundtable discussion hosted by a pair of Republican Congressman, Byron Donalds (FL) and Wesley Hunt (TX), and Dr. Ben Carson, the former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Trump. And somehow, Jones has gone on record to say he didn’t know it was a Trump surrogate-led event. He didn’t know it would be political in nature.

Yeah right, dude.

I was there that day, and so were 30-plus other members of the media. I’m not sure that we all would have been crammed inside and gathered outside the barbershop on a hot Wednesday afternoon if it was just “locker room talk” taking place. I was invited by a member of the Trump campaign communications team. As a member of the media I jumped at the chance to cover a Black small business owner who openly supported the Trump reelection campaign. Only Jones must have been confused about what was taking place.

Days after the roundtable, which was a day before the first presidential debate between President Joseph R. Biden and former President Donald J. Trump took place in Midtown, Jones went on a mini-media tour to explain his inclusion in the event. He didn’t realize hosting the event would end in a backlash from customers. He didn’t understand that having “Blacks for Trump” and “Never Surrender” signs in his barbershop were going to be seen as support for the Trump campaign. I am ready to go on record as saying he didn’t realize Trump lost Georgia by a little over 12,000 votes last election, and some of those people that voted against Trump and for Biden were customers at his barbershop.

Don’t cry for Jones though. He was financially compensated for the time his barber shop was closed to customers. There were a number of times I saw him leave the barbershop before the event started, and each time he saw more and more media outside, even once saying to me, “The Atlanta Voice, huh?” while looking at the logo on my work-issued polo shirt. Jones is no fool. You can’t run a successful business in Atlanta and be clueless about your surroundings. He knew what was happening and now seems to regret ever getting involved. He chose a side, even just for a couple of hours, and apparently chose wrong, at least when it comes to his business: cutting Black men’s hair.

In the Black community, barbershops are safe spaces where we can talk about anything and everything going on in the world. On Wednesday, Jones set his business up, signs and all, to be a safe space for Trump surrogates and support. As an American, he had the right to do so. The backlash and dazed and confused aftermath that he is now experiencing are on him now. Trump has moved on.

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