Whitehorn and Bailey are co-hosts of “Barbershop Talk — South
Minnesota,” an online interview and talk show filmed at The
Barbershop, a Northwest Rochester business. The episodes are
available on YouTube at the
Barbershop Talk — South Minnesota channel.
No topics are off-limits and the questions aren’t always
“I’m still learning how to use my voice,” Whitehorn said.
“(Bailey) knows how to make that seat hot.”
Though the pair want to keep things honest and open, they also
keep the chats productive and kind.
“We try to keep it positive,” Whitehorn said. “Even though we
want to face the tough topics, we do it in a positive way and try
to be informative.”
In the final stretch of the election campaigns last year, area
candidates took their turns in the hot seat.
The barbershop, at suite 208 in the 19th Street Business Park,
and the accompanying talk show were founded last year by Rev. Andre
Crockett. Crockett wanted to create a central hub for urban and
African American culture in Rochester.
Crockett initially envisioned a community hub of social
services, conversation and a barber school. The school concept was
dropped due to state licensing regulations. Occasionally, you can
get a haircut there from a licensed barber who spends some time in
the shop. Most of the time, however, the shop serves as a
community, cultural and social services hub.
Historically, barbershops serve as the cultural center for
African American communities. Rochester doesn’t have a centralized
African American neighborhood where a community hub like that would
emerge organically, Bailey said.
Although that meant the African American community avoided being
segregated into a ghetto, it also means the community doesn’t have
a neighborhood center.
“There’s a dual edge to that,” Bailey said.
The shop partners with the Rochester Public Library on a reading
program. It also houses a backpack program for school kids. On one
wall, a display of donated shoes is available those in need of new
footwear. For job candidates who need to look sharp for an
interview, the shop offers an assortment of dress and business
The talk show project emerged organically, Crockett said. Its
success was a bit of a surprise, he added.
“I didn’t think the talk show was going to go as well as it
did,” he said.
Bailey said the show serves as a medium for community
discussions that also positively portrays African American
“A lot of times you look at our media and the the only time you
see black people, they’re in trouble,” Bailey said. “We don’t know
there is a sergeant in the police department, African American
firefighter, African American attorneys.”
“We give the African American community a voice,” Crockett
The show and the shop are helping create dialog to discuss with
the broader community some of the challenges and concerns the
African American community in Rochester deal with.
During Crockett and Bailey’s chat with Chief Franklin, they
discussed the Black Lives Matter movement. They also discussed the
dangers and risks police officers face on duty.
“At the barbershop there are no elephants in the room,” Bailey
said in the show’s introduction.
Franklin talked about his plans for the department and goals.
Crockett got to the crux of anxiety and concerns African Americans
have about police.
“Historically, our trauma comes from the very people who should
be our protectors,” Crockett said. “How do we now bring forth
healing in the community?”
Franklin pointed to community initiatives such as National Night
Out and one he started called “Coffee with a Cop.”
“Getting into those neighborhoods and having those conversations
with people in a time of calm and peace,” Franklin said. “There’s
definitely a human element behind this uniform.”
Social movements like Black Lives Matter need to be more than
demonstrations and protests, Bailey said.
“We need to have conversations and listen too if we’re going to
find solutions,” Bailey said.
Anyone who wants to part of those conversations is welcome at
the barbershop. They’ll keep the chair warm.