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Leave "The Edgar" Haircut Alone & Focus on Real Issues | San Antonio News-Express May 23, 2024

Updated: May 23

Read Full Article in Latinx Pop Magazine HERE!

Read Commentary Below and in San Antonio News-Express HERE!

"Let people do their thing. Let the Edgar, be the Edgar"

By Frederick Luis Aldama


I know all about the "Edgar" haircut everyone can't stop talking about. As a chavalito, or little boy, my mamá was so busy teaching, planning assignments, creating her own bilingual elementary school textbooks, and holding down the casita as a single parent that my hair went mostly unnoticed.

That is, until visits to or from abuelita. My grandma used a bowl and clippers to cut my raggedy long locks into what’s known today as the Edgar.

I couldn't have cared less about my appearance, especially my hair. At home I spent most of my waking — and sleeping — hours sporting one of my precious pulga-purchased masks: El Santo, Blue Demon or Batman.

At school, sans masks, there were enough of us running around with the same bowl cut that the taunts and the stink-eyes were far and few between.

Today, the Edgar, is a thing in our communities and all over Instagram, TikTok and other platforms. 

Some celebrate the positive, respecting the complexity of the cut, and affirming its roots of Indigenous ancestry, and the detoxifying of rigid gender and sexuality divisions. 

But others, including many in San Antonio, amplify the hair cut in the negative. It's being weaponized to identify those with the hair style as threats and criminals. While it's true that more than a few mug shots include this style, there are no absolutes. 

This isn’t the first time that a hair cut or style have been targeted, and it won't be the last. 

Think of yesteryear’s pachucos or Zoot Suiters in El Paso, East Los Angeles and Chicago. They wore with pride bootleg-tailored (or self-made) super suave drape suits, pomade-slicked ducktail hair or high coifed bouffant hairdos. But their simple and quiet affirmations of being neither Mexican nor American, but something new and in-between became weaponized. 

Framing in a negative way those who choose to embrace an identity through their intentional style isn’t unique to Latinos. There’s a long, parallel history with Black people in Harlem, Detroit and Chicago in the '30s and '40s who strutted pridefully custom-tailored voluminous suits.

And, across the proverbial pond in the United Kingdom, working-class Modernists youth in the '50s known as the Mods chose to buck mainstream conservative expectation by sporting fine-tailored, Italian-styled suits and clean, geometric haircuts.

For working-class youth around the world, agency can come through the intentional ways one celebrates an ethos by constructing a subculture by refashioning objects, footwear, clothes and hairdos. 

It’s a way to intentionally affirm the "otherness" that a conformist mainstream throws at youth. It’s a way to re-structure feelings about oneself and foster positive, shared emotions within a community of like-minded individuals.

I say, let people do their thing. Let the Edgar, be the Edgar.

Instead of putting energy into bans at private establishments and weaponizing the Edgar, we can work together to call out systemic issues such as poverty and underfunded public education that disproportionately impact Latino youth. 

We should focus on advocating for inclusive and supportive measures such as robust after-school programs, access to healthy cafeteria food, 21st century educational resources and better pay for our teachers.


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