EDINBURGH (ValleyCentral), TX — The Rio Grande Valley has a culturally rich community with over 90% Hispanic population.
As the Valley grows through business and education, so does the black community.
“I moved to this valley in 2006,” said UTRGV professor Aje-Ori Agbese. “And when I moved here, I think being black was still a new thing. When I went to places, I used to have my hair in little braids like this. He actually stopped and touched my hair, and I was amazed because people acted like they were black people seeing us for the first time.”
Since moving to the valley, Aje-Ori Agbese has seen the area diversify through ethnic restaurants, businesses and services.
But there is still a common struggle faced by the black community: the need for black hairdressers.
“I think myself and a lot of the other black women I knew here basically did their own hair,” Agbeth told ValleyCentral.
Professional barbers and hairstylists are taught how to work with different textures of hair, but it’s nearly impossible to find someone with experience with black hair, Agbeth says.
This makes black men and women across the Valley self-taught and, most importantly, dependent on each other.
UTRGV student-athlete Jalyn Williams told ValleyCentral: So that’s actually how we adapt to our environment. In the struggle we are dealing with. ”
As a result of this common struggle, the Valley has become home to many black barbershops that have been serving the community since the 90s, including Donald Quailes, owner of D & L Beauty and Pharr’s Barbershop.
“A lot of them came over and they looked at me and said, ‘Wow, how long have you been looking for a black barber? So I’m glad I was able to respond to some of them.
Founder of her own private studio business, Dread House, Meesh Duru is a local rock artist who specializes in styling dreadlocks.
Duru told ValleyCentral: And I had to be the change I wanted to see in my family home. ”
Others within the black community even opened the Valley’s first beauty supply store specializing in African American and interracial hair.
“It’s a journey process, so I’m here as a vessel to share and equip people with it,” said Korea Beauty Supply founder Korea McKinley.
Each one of these individuals is more than just a member of a community that shares their struggles. They are individuals who have recognized a need within the Black community and have spearheaded the needed change here in the Rio Grande Valley.