Barbershops are considered a cornerstone within the Black community and as Election Day nears these establishments are being used as vessels to increase voter turnout. According to Freethink, a grassroots effort dubbed Shape Up the Vote was created to empower individuals to exercise their right to vote.
Shape Up the Vote was founded earlier this year by Andrew Glass. The effort was launched to encourage barbers to take actionable steps towards equipping their clients with the tools and resources needed to vote. Barbershops participating in the initiative displayed posters to remind clients of important registration and election dates, led conversations at their shops about the importance of voter registration and provided customers with voter information handouts and registration forms. Barbers who are a part of Shape Up the Vote have also helped with poll worker recruitment in an effort to combat voter suppression. “As our country heads into the critical election, we’re encouraged to see local leaders rally their communities to make their voices heard,” said Glass. “We started the project based on our belief that barbers are local leaders. Especially in this time of social isolation, barbers hold a unique space for dialogue and conversation. Our team has a deep appreciation for local businesses and community leaders, and set out to empower barbers to use their influence in the 2020 election.”
Since its inception, over 1,000 barbers have joined the movement. Although Shape Up the Vote is based in Philadelphia, the initiative has outposts in major cities including Atlanta, New York City and Detroit. The Black-owned barber booking app theCut has partnered with Shape Up the Vote to further its mission. “We partnered with Shape Up the Vote because barbershops have always been trusted spaces of conversations for people of color. At the same time, barbers are trusted leaders in Black and brown communities and barbershops are places where people from all walks of life will eventually come visit,” theCut co-founder Obi Omile Jr. told Triple Pundit in a statement. “Voting is incredibly important. Black people haven’t always had the right to vote, so everyone who is capable should go out and exercise that right as often as they can.”