In interviews at Tolliver's Barber Shop in South L.A., regulars agreed that the election of President Barack Obama in 2008 plunged the Republican Party into a paroxysm of anger that metastasized and led to the election of Donald Trump as the Republican Party became more unabashedly racist.
According to LA Times columnist Steve Lopez, a visit to Tolliver's Barber Shop revealed Black voters who are equally bitter, angry and dismayed as they watch the GOP try to roll back voting rights -- and they tie the genesis of the anti-democratic movement to a knee-jerk reaction to Obama becoming the first Black president.
According to owner Laurence Tolliver, he recalled that he remarked "It’s a glorious day" on the day he cast his vote for Obama but, as Lopez wrote, "More than 13 years later, that road has taken a sharp turn, back into the past."
"We haven’t yet seen a move to reinstate the poll tax. Not yet, anyway. But Joe Biden’s sound defeat of President Trump in 2020 unleashed unhinged claims that the election was stolen, and more than a dozen states have since enacted voting rules expected to suppress minority votes," the LA Times columnist wrote before adding, "Last week, I met with the Tollivers and some of the longtime customers at the barbershop. The language was as sharp as Tolliver’s shears. The tone was a bitter blend of heartbreak, rage and resignation that the nation’s most reprehensible sins may never be buried."
Tolliver explained about his vote for Obama stating, "I was just so happy for America, and I said we had finally turned the corner,” before lamenting, “And as happy as I was then, I’m just as saddened, disheartened and discouraged by the acts going on now to suppress or deny the vote.”
Filling in the blanks, his wife Bernadette chimed in, "It just really released a lot of hatred and racism.”
Reacting to a viral video of an LA teen taunting a Black basketball player by calling him “a monkey” and asking “who let him out of his chains?” in nearby Laguna Beach, barbershop regular Nate Thibodeaux pinned the blame on Trump for making racism a central element of his appeal to his rabid fans.
“Trump actually fueled the fire there. I don’t know what the answers are, but it seems like it gets worse instead of better,” he remarked.
Mike Washington added that he believes the Republican party has been hijacked, adding, "It’s become the poster boy for Jim Crow.”
Barbershop regular William Taylor offered, "Our ancestors have given too much for us to lose the right to vote,” which led to the Rev. Ron Simmons of West Angeles Church of God adding that the attempts at voter suppression will only inspire more to turn out.
“I don’t think they’re going to be able to suppress the vote,” Simmons predicted “Because of everything going on now, people will get out there and vote.”