Tapered Throne/Bald Fade

with Writings by Nate Marshall and Quincy T. Mills

Barbershops have a long history as a safe haven for Black men — part therapy office, part latchkey program, part church. My father often called them safe spaces where “you learn how to be a man, where a man can just be.” I knew what he meant, but something in me made me wonder about the necessity of having a separate space for compromised bodies. When I have these existential moments, I look to our contributors to fill in the gaps of understanding.

Nate Marshall’s poetry often explores notions of Black masculinity and place, primarily engaged with the neighborhoods on the South Side of Chicago. Photographer Brandon Tauszik’s series Tapered Throne uses GIFs  to illustrate the economic, cultural and social vitality that Oakland barbers offer to the local Black community. Framed with an introductory essay by Professor Quincy T. Mills whose research focuses on how these intersections impact “helped shape black public spaces, political engagement, and activism,” the Cutting Along the Color Line: Black Barbers and Barber Shops in America author lends sharp historical context. In bringing together these three voices, separated by miles of distance, this Enumerate collaboration speaks to the need for such spaces and the complicated lessons Black men learn from and share with one another.

Aricka Foreman, Enumerate Editor




Tyrone, Pull Your Pants Up Barber Shop, 2014. 71 frames.

“Tapered Throne Introduction” by Quincy T. Mills

“bald fade” by Nate Marshall



Barbers stand at the heart of their shops. With repeated strokes, they move the clippers up and down, back and forth across a myriad of heads and chins every day. But this is not mundane, wage-labor service work; this is a craft with a rich history.


Richard could slice a nigga from fro to caesar in 17 flat. he, dream genius of diminishing black curl.



Haircuts, shaves, respite, work, political engagement, social commentary, and manly bravado. Men who have moved to San Francisco make their weekly Saturday sojourn over the Bay Bridge so their barber can tighten up their fade and they can rap with folks they know, as well as affable strangers.


he used to pick me up Saturday mornings, stop & cop me McDonald’s hot cakes. he sat me in the back of the shop while opening. let me eat & then readied me for the slice.



Ms. Munene (owner), Brothers Barber College, 2013. 216 frames.


The barber-client relationship sustains these businesses in a changing urban environment in the face of gentrification and outside economic development. If African Americans keep going to the same barber because of their skill and familiarity, the larger public of the shop will define the nature of the community taking shape inside.


the bald fade. the neat 90s cut up front. the back graphics. the rounded fro. the cornrow lining. the Michael Jordan/Daddy deluxe.



Kenneth, Cuts & Bends, 2011. 132 frames.


Behind these portraits are the aspirations of men who are not just making a living, but who see the value of their labors in the development of black community life.


my head a democratic laboratory for nap possibility. my head lived in Richard’s hands — Richard was our family friend.



Yay, Room to Groom, 2015. 76 frames.


Haircuts are not commodities for African Americans. You cannot get one anywhere, from anyone, at any price. One’s barber knows how he likes his hair cut, how long to keep the sideburns, how to shape the taper. Outside of the particulars of one’s cut, a barber will come to learn much about their clients.


haircut-on-credit close. hand-me-candy-store-money close.leave-me-the-Curtis-comic-strips close. first-school-dance-get-me-right-close. down-the-street-close. try-to-fuck-my-sister close. never-went-to-prison close. check-his-sex-offender-registry-listing close. map-the-route-to-his-house-close. consider-repaying-his-cuts-close.


Reggie, Top Hat, 2013. 136 frames.


Even as they stand behind their barber’s chair with arms propped up clutching the clippers, they are constantly in motion and in tune with the comings and goings of the people in their city.


saw him at the gas station last summer close. he, who made my wave pattern didn’t recognize me at the pump after hair loss & decade plus of thickening into man.



Don (customer), Porter’s, 2011. 68 frames.


Whether they own the shop or rent a chair, barbers work for themselves, establishing a level of economic security that countless African Americans have been seeking since the end of slavery.


he would only know me from the way my dome pinches slightly up front, a mark he made with his first fade.

The “Tapered Throne Introduction” [OAKLAND] by Quincy T. Mills can be read in full at taperedthrone.com.

The poem “bald fade” [CHICAGO] by Nate Marshall is previously unpublished.


“On a road in upstate New York, I discovered marks that were evidence of repairs and in certain lights they morphed into clear images, as though unconsciously the workers were making artistic interventions in the world.”

On Rising

“We know that so many have named it mere anger, when in fact it is the resuscitation of hope.”