Here’s why tonnes of Black women are boycotting certain London hair shops

Many London women are calling for heightened support of Black-owned hair shops after a shocking viral video appeared to show an unnamed woman being ‘strangled’ by a shop worker in the store Peckham Hair and Cosmetics earlier this week.

The widely-circulated clip showed a male, South Asian shop worker with his hands around an unnamed customer’s throat following an alleged dispute about a refund. The woman was arrested on accusations of theft and assault and later bailed pending further enquiries, while the worker reportedly faces no charges.

A protest organised by community group Forever Family, with support from UK domestic abuse charity Sistah Space, took place on Rye Lane, Peckham yesterday (September 12) in response to the viral video and arrest, which fuelled pre-existing frustrations among south London women that many hair shops are not Black-owned. 

‘This is a longstanding issue that Black women, or Black people who identify as women, face when they go into these spaces,’ said Savannah, a protestor. ‘These are hair shops that are meant for Black women and we are often racialised, and type-casted [in these spaces].This is a boiling over that.’

Protestor Cleopatra Thompson echoed these sentiments, stating that she too has felt unsafe in such stores. ‘I’ve been followed around and watched like a hawk in these shops in south London,’ she said at the protest. ‘I don’t want to spend a minute or a penny more in these shops that don’t respect me.’  

She added: ‘It’s ironic – these shops cater towards Black beauty, but they treat us like scum. We shouldn’t turn a blind eye anymore, and we must start investing in our communities rather than convenience.’

Thompson held up a placard championing local Black-owned hair shops in south London, such as Essence of Nature in Sydenham and Hair Glo in Bromley.

Protest at Peckham Hair and Cosmetics
Photograph: Anna Kerr

Black women make up a huge proportion of all hair and beauty spending in the UK, with data revealing that Black women spend six times more on hair-care products than white women.

Met Police Detective Chief Superintendent Seb Adjei-Addoh, local policing commander for Southwark, confirmed that officers attended the scene on Monday and are continuing to investigate the full circumstances of what has taken place. 

Time Out has reached out to Peckham Hair and Cosmetics for comment.

Stay in the loop: sign up for our free Time Out London newsletter for the best of the city, straight to your inbox.