Freeze Frame From Hip Hop Hair!

By: Nicole Kist



    Studying the cultures and people of South Phoenix is like studying in a foreign country. Although I have lived here my entire life I have failed to "really" notice the diversity and uniqueness that South Phoenix has to offer. I have driven through South Phoenix a dozen times and heard all kinds of stories about the neighborhood and the people that live there, but I think many people (including myself) misunderstand and stereotype the residents of South Phoenix. It is definitely different than my neighborhood and the neighborhoods that I am used to seeing but that doesn't make it bad.
    Entering South Phoenix is like crossing the border from the U.S. to Mexico. The area is primarily made up of minorities and, Hispanics make up the largest percent of the total population. For my freeze frame I saw a variety of memorable sights. Brightly colored homes and businesses lined the streets, nearly everyone spoke Spanish, and all of the signs were in Spanish. There were Carnicerias, Panaderias, Taquerias, and Mercados everywhere; this I thought was so strange, in Phoenix ? No way, these buildings look like the ones I've seen in Mexico not in Arizona! Had I stepped in a time-warp or are areas of the same city really that different and segregated?
    The whole day was like a freeze frame in my mind, but a couple of places in particular struck me as interesting. My classmates and I went into a little plaza that had clothing stores and a grocery store. The scene appeared fairly "normal" to what I was used to, but then I walked in. The grocery store had so many things I had never seen before. All of the labels were in Spanish. The Coke and Pepsi's were in bottles, and the meat department had a unique assortment of meats including; tripe, pigs feet, octopus, chorizo, and some kind of seafood mix.
    Next we went to check out the Hip Hop Hair and Cafe. Hip Hop is a brilliant blue colored building, that apparently used to be a gas station, on the corner of 7th Street and Roeser. It can't help but catch your eye. This place was truly like nothing I had ever seen before, you could get a haircut, jewelry, and a snack all in the same place. The salon's walls were covered in brightly colored murals portraying African Americans. The glass doors into the salon were the only things separating it from the cafe. In this area you could shop around a bit while reading about up coming concerts, kick it with some friends, or order some "famous" food, literally. The menu in the cafe had a theme to it that could only be found in a place like this. The food was all named after famous rap artists. You could order a Notorious B.I.G. basket, an Eminem white fish, a Queen Latifa Sandwich, or some Hot Boys wings( now that sounds good). But this Hip Hop Hair seemed to be more than a snack or hair cut shop, it appeared to be a hangout for the local teenagers and adults. People came and went while we were in there but everyone seemed to know everyone and it was a place where they could get away and just hangout.


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