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A Safe Space for Black Men

Cuts and Conversations utilizes the historical connection between barber and patron that allows for Black men to communicate freely about topics that are relevant to them, with moderators who utilize various therapeutic modalities to help guide the conversation and provide culturally relevant wellness solutions.

Our Story

Created by Drs. Jerez Mitchell and Warrenetta Mann, Cuts and Conversations started as an initiative to increase the retention, progression, and completion rates of Black Males at colleges and universities. As mental health practitioners, we partner with the institution to cultivate a cultural space for this population that encourages safety, camaraderie, pro-healthy behaviors, and positive collective discourse. This has become affectionately known as Cuts and Conversations: College Edition

Cuts and Conversations branched into Cuts and Conversations: Community Edition to provide a similar space for Black Men within the community. The same wellness structure is utilized which allows for Black men to take part in discussion in a safe and empowering environment.

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What We Do

College
Edition

Research conducted since the 1980’s has called attention to the social isolation, cultural incongruence, academic hurdles and racism that Black students endure on predominantly White campuses (Harper, 2015).

This research encourages policies and practices to help aid in increasing social adjustment and academic success of Black males. Unlike models that promote deficit-oriented perspectives which relies on individualism and self-direction, Cuts and Conversations: College Edition takes a positive approach to the collective community that supports Black Male identity development and achievement.  Our program enhances student engagement by partnering with collegiate institutions to encourage active engagements between young Black men and their academic institutions. We accomplish this by facilitating group events featuring food, fun and local barbers with a focus on positive identity development, retention and achievement.  We also provide a train-the-trainer series and written curriculum in order to provide institutional sustainability and climate transformation.

Community
Edition

The unique intersection of gender identity and historic sexual and emotional oppression of African American men often results in social isolation, physical illness, and psychological stress among Black men with few outlets for healthy expression.

Cuts and Conversations: Community Edition seeks to create safe spaces that support Black Men as powerful beings capable of facilitating their own healing. We accomplish this by facilitating group events at local barber shops. These events are partnerships with local community leader and/or organizations to create a safe space for open, nonjudgmental, supportive dialogue.

Consultation
Services

Cuts and Conversations provides consultation services to community organizations, schools/universities, and other corporate and business entities.

If our Community and College Edition programs are not what you are looking for, we will work with you to develop educational and/or therapeutic programming, as well as tailored diversity and inclusion plans to enhance your organization’s goals. 

The Barbers

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The Why

Statistics show that the fastest growing population in the United States are minority groups. However, their educational attainment continues to be the lowest when compared to White counterparts (Center for Community College Student Engagement, 2014). As of 2008, statistics show that students of color represented 27% of the student body at 4-year institutions in the United States (2014). More specifically, African Americans represent 12% of college students in the United States (Robertson & Chaney, 2017). Research suggests that as African Americans matriculate through college, they are faced with culturally specific obstacles including feeling emotionally and academically unprepared (Jed Foundation, 2015). With 57% of African Americans stating that college is not living up to their expectations, 75% of them keep their feelings about the difficulty of college to themselves which can lead to mental health disparities (2015). These statistics become even more precarious once gender disparities amongst this collective are highlighted.

Research conducted in 2002 found that since 1976, Black men have only comprised 4.3% of all students enrolled in postsecondary education (Harper, 2012). Black women outnumber Black males in college with a 2:1 ratio and their graduation rate exceeds Black males by almost 10% (Robertson & Chaney, 2017). With only 36% of Black males graduating from college, current research has concluded that Black male undergraduates are the least retained among both sexes and all racial/ethnic groups in higher education (Harper, 2015).  

This alarming realization leads scholars to investigate barriers that this population faces on campuses where they are racially underrepresented. Additionally, we must take into account the recent traumas that the world has experienced and how these traumas have been exacerbated in this particular community. 

New research has been able to quantify the devastating repercussions of COVID-19 on black families and students. More than 85% of participants in a study conducted by Dr. Sonya Horsford, Founding Director of Black Education Research Collective at Teachers College, indicated that COVID-19 had an impact on their mental health and wellness.   Nearly 1/3 of survey respondents reported losing a family member, friend or community member during the pandemic (Horsford et al., 2021). Coupled with systemic racism, economic recession, heightened racial violence, and a lack of appropriate response to their social, emotional and academic needs, Black students require targeted investments in mental health services that address the impact of racial trauma as part of post-pandemic education.

We stand to increase the social adjustment and academic success of Black males. Instead of continuing to promote deficit-oriented perspectives that rely on self-direction, Cuts and Conversations takes a positive approach to Black Male student engagement by partnering with collegiate institutions to encourage active engagements between both entities.  

Our Team

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Warrenetta Crawford Mann, Psy.D.

Warrenetta Crawford Mann, Psy.D. is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Cuts and Conversations, LLC. She provides facilitation in the college and community programs and curates the curriculums utilized. Prior to founding Cuts and Conversations Dr. Mann spent 25 years in college mental health. As a clinician she specialized in childhood trauma recovery, family and interpersonal violence, mitigation, and therapy with undervalued and underserved populations such as ethnic and racial minorities, sexual and gender minorities, religious minorities, and educational and economically marginalized populations. As an instructor she has taught psychotherapy skills from basic to advanced, personality development theory, and courses on the social interstitially. As a mentor she has provided supervision and ethics training related to service provision to unique populations in mental health care. And as an administrator, she has provided leadership to several college counseling centers. She has demonstrated success in creating and maintaining effective and inclusive mental health systems and workplaces with a social justice lens. Her organizational development and consulting portfolio include non-profit and civic organizations seeking to enhance their cultural reach and strengthen their cultural competence. Her recognition of the common human condition supports a unique ability to help individuals and groups identify their core values, goals, priorities, and potentials for greater success.

Dr. Mann’s love for the complexity and diversity of the people of the world began when she was growing up in Atlanta. The daughter of an educator, she was taught at an early age to approach every person, place and thing with curiosity. She is inspired by travel and the unique histories of people. She pursued this passion through her studies in psychology while completing her undergraduate degree at Vanderbilt University, a master’s degree at the University of Louisville, and her doctorate at Spalding University in Louisville. Cuts and Conversations, LLC has allowed her to return to the grassroots advocacy work of her early career when she was immersed in diverse communities in efforts to leverage her knowledge, skills, and abilities on behalf of cultural minorities.

Dr. Mann currently resides in North Carolina with her family.

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Jerez R. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Jerez Mitchell, Ph.D. is a professional psychologist and mental health advocate. She serves as the Chief Executive Officer and is responsible for creating, planning, implementing, and integrating the strategic direction of Southern Conduits’ services. She is originally from Texas and has Bahamian roots. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Spelman College and earned her Master’s degree and Doctorate of Philosophy degree in Counseling Psychology from Howard University. Dr. Mitchell provides mental health and wellness services for children, adolescents, and adults. She has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, the community mental health sector, superior courts, college counseling, and private practices. Outside of enjoying life with her husband and son in the Lowcountry, Jerez enjoys playing volleyball, attending the symphony, and relaxing at the beach.

Chris Briggman

Christopher Briggman, MRC, CRC, LCMHCA

Chris Briggman has worked in the field of Mental Health and Vocational Rehabilitation since 2012. His experience includes working as a Human Resource Manager, Readjustment Therapist, Supervisory Benefits Specialist, and Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  In these roles, he has provided counseling, therapy, job placement, guidance, and case management to individuals with mental and physical disabilities, veterans, ex-felons, older workers, disadvantaged youth, and minorities. More recently, he opened his own practice where 90% of his clients are Black. Chris works diligently to create and maintain relationships with other private and public agency providers to serve his clients even better. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Coker University in Hartsville, SC in 2008, and in 2013 obtained a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of South Carolina, School of Medicine. Soon after, he became a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (CRC), a Certified Vocational Evaluator (CVE), and a Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor Associate (LCMHCa) to better operate in the field of mental health and vocational rehabilitation.

Get Involved

Sponsor an Event

We are always looking for new organizations who are  interested in hosting Cuts & Conversations in their spaces.

Barbershop Partnership

We partner with barbers who want to serve their communities! Contact us for more information.

Pay a Cut Forward

A great cut goes a long way! If you are interested in purchasing a cut for one of our participants. Contact us for more information.

Become an Ambassador

Want to help us continue the very necessary and impactful work we do? Awesome! One way that you can help us raise brand awareness and support what we are doing is through our online store. All proceeds go to helping us do what we do best.

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