Rinsing Discrimination Down the Drain

By Jenna Hanchard

March 2, 2012 Updated Mar 2, 2012 at 12:48 AM EDT

(WBNG Binghamton) While there are no current laws that prevent all races from sharing the same space, the beauty salon is one place where there's often a racial divide.

As Action News wraps up our Black History Month series, we head to a local salon where one woman brushes aside discrimination.

Check your biases at the door when you come the Colour Inspired Hair Salon.

"Black people shouldn't have to go to a Black salon to get their hair done and white people shouldn't have to go to just a white salon," said co-owner Lecy Rue.

When Rue and her partner, Andrea Paoletti, opened their Vestal beauty shop five years ago, they chose to soften a very real difference in hair care.

"In this area I think a lot of stylists are afraid of Black hair," Rue said.

"I think it's the unknown. If they've never done it before they just assume that they can't do it," she said.

Sixteen years ago, Lecy knew she could do it. After practicing on her friends' hair, the Binghamton native discovered her passion.

"I always enjoyed doing hair and I couldn't see myself doing anything else," she said.

From shampoo girl to manager, Lecy worked her way up to the first chair, filling a void for clients of color who needed more stylists who could do their hair.

"I didn't want that division so I thought I'll open up a salon that caters to everyone," she said.

With no tolerance for fear, Lecy and her partner trained the majority of their stylists to work with all hair textures.

"I guess I'm very fortunate that I have girls that are willing to not be afraid to do someone because they are African-American," she said.

"Their passion takes them to a level of where they're not going to say they can't do it. So they'll learn it and do it so they do it well."

While Lecy works to wash separate but equal down the drain, she has yet to absorb how she is working to eliminate discrimination through hair.

" You don't really stop sometimes to really look at what you've created," she said, adding, " For me its just making sure my door is open every day and we can make them beautiful and they can walk out feeling good looking good."

Where a good hair style knows no color.

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