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Columbus fathers bridging gap between city violence and the community

Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 12:55 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - On the heels of five shootings in Columbus in the last five days, a pair of local men are creating safe spaces for males to openly discuss everyday struggles.

Some say conversations like these bridge the gap between violence and the community.

Walk into any barbershop and you’ll leave with more than just a fade. These days, the real talk between Columbus barbers and customers is often about issues like youth violence across the city.

“They’re making all these permanent decisions off of temporary feelings,” said Columbus father Delontaye Taylor. “They might have an altercation with someone and they want to go kill them.”

Taylor owns Studio X Barbershop. A gathering at his business on Victory Drive was the start of “Barbershop Talks” in Columbus, an open forum for men to talk and debate.

“One of the main things that we talked about in barbershop was absent fathers,” said Taylor.

Without both parents at home, some say many Columbus youth end up on the street or in the wrong crowd.

“If you look at the mass majority of the people that’s behind bars or six feet under, they didn’t have a father,” said Taylor. “The father is absent from the household.”

That’s where Jerome Dingle steps in. He’s with Georgia Strong Families, a program through the Columbus Health Department. They host Zoom “Barbershop Talks” where fathers and other men discuss everyday struggles such as parenting.

During Wednesday nights’ Zoom meeting, Dingle says the topic was legitimization - a state law saying the father of a child born out of wedlock has no legal rights to his child.

“Here in Georgia, your name can be on the birth certificate, but that does not automatically grant you rights to the child -- that being visitation, custody, and things of that nature,” said Dingle.

Both men say the city needs more safe spaces like barbershops for men to talk.

“I believe there needs to be a place for gentleman who can talk about their own struggles without fear of someone saying something negative about that,” said Dingle.

Georgia Strong Families will host its next Zoom “Barbershop Talk” about vulnerability in April. Taylor says he will also use his shops to host another discussion soon.

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