Lots of books glorifying violence out there but I’ve never come across anything so focussed on stopping the intergenerational cycle of harm perpetuated on the vulnerable as this extraordinary work by Matt Brown and Sarah Brown. It’s part story, part autobiography, part self-help guide, part conversation, 100% inspiration.
Matt’s a barber; the creator of My Fathers Barbers. Men sit in his chair and chat. Not so much: Where are you going for your holidays, more : This is a safe space. You can talk about that if you want.
I heard Matt and Sarah speak in Hawke’s Bay recently. The room was Covid-spaced but packed full of a diverse audience, not your usual Readers & Writers crowd. Word had obviously got around that this was something to come out for. Matt kicked off with the theme of looking for the little boy in the hardest of men and how he tries, (with conversation and shared truths) to connect with him, the boy he was before abuse and neglect had turned the man into an abuser and neglecter. Sarah talked about the mahi she and Matt do together, in the community, in prisons, working without judgement in the anti-violence movement.
The book has chapters titled: She is not your hired help. She is not your saviour. She is not your punching bag. I remember Matt looking out at the audience and saying: She is your safe place.
I bought the book. I’ll leave it in a prominent place on the bookshelf for visitors. It’s well written, thoughtful and not dramatic, despite the subjects covered. Sure, you could read it while having your hair cut. It’s made me think more carefully at how we all judge people so quickly. Hurt people hurt people, Matt says and ain’t that the truth.
If you get a chance to hear Matt and Sarah talk—go. They are brilliant and uplifting. Two people spearheading such change.
More on My Fathers Barber.