10/26/11 — Salon owner challenges community

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Salon owner challenges community

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on October 26, 2011 1:46 PM

A hair salon on A Street has caused a stir among residents with its seemingly politically charged window decorations, including sketches of men and women with shackles around their heads and a painting of the American flag hanging from a noose, which its owner says are meant to inspire activism among black citizens in her area.

Pinky Jacobs, owner of Pinky's Hair Palace, said her shop's decorations aren't intended to be incendiary, but to share a message of change in the public's perception of what is important in today's age.

She feels today's youth has grown too complacent with discrimination, too inactive in civic works and too ignorant of history. Her decorations, she said, are aimed to "start a riot in people's minds" and lead them to question the status quo, too much like a capitalist rat race that focuses only on material goods.

"It's about the way we value things," Ms. Jacobs, 30, said. "Our idea of the American dream has taken over the dream of living an American life."

The writing on her window pushes that message even more explicitly, telling passersby its "Time to wake up from the American dream. Change your reality."

A tireless pursuit of what the media values most, from cars and houses to luxuries, has led citizens to undervalue the rights and privileges most take for granted, Ms. Jacobs said, including civic duties.

She said although working at her salon keeps her too busy to be as active in the community as she would like to be, using her business as a sounding board for her views is one way she can be a part of the community's development.

Describing the area where she grew up and works as a high-crime urban area, she says a lack of knowledge about black history and the way the government works among black residents contributes to what she calls mental slavery.

"We have to start changing our minds to do something for ourselves," she said. "We need to wake up and be a part of this democracy."

As far as a reaction to her artistic rhetoric, Ms. Jacobs said there were a few individuals, mostly military personnel or veterans, who were initially offended by her message, but she said that after explanation, most understood where she was coming from even if they didn't agree with her wholeheartedly.

"History happened. You can't be offended by what already happened. Growing up we're told fairy tales and fluff, so we can't listen to (reality)," she said. "I want to incite a riot in people's minds."

But she's not only trying to get those in her community to challenge their lot in life, she's working with a center that is hoping to actually redefine those lives.

She's working with her father and a community center through her church to foster civil action and accountability among residents, as well as an initiative, The Village, to combine resources with other similar centers to develop a "village mentality" that will allow all citizens to work together to push ignorance out and inspire a social consciousness she says is missing from today's citizens.

Dennis Jacobs, 58, said his daughter has been taking in children in her neighborhood, feeding and teaching them hygiene and personal care and allowing them to stay the night in her home for some time, so when his church, formerly Christ Centered Church and now The Word Warehouse, purchased a building to do various programs in the community, he felt her efforts to better the lives of her neighbors would sync up well with the church's plans. They have incorporated the ideas together and when his job training program begins shortly, the children she has fostered a relationship with should be prime candidates to continue learning life skills at the center.

"She'll have some kids already gathered that will be able to step right into the things we're planning through the church," he said, adding that whether it's through the church, political activism or job training, he and his daughter are simply trying to bring about better results for the community they live in.