young black barber looks into the camera smiling and leaning against an empty chair. barber shop is in soft focus

Amid the sound of television and hair clippers buzzing around him at Goodfellas Barbershop in Little Rock, Arkansas, Lorenzo Lewis was trying to get a man wearing a mask to talk about his emotional pain.

Lewis asked the man how he was doing. “I’m good, I’m good,” he responded. Lewis said how he’d noticed he seemed on edge recently. Same response. Lewis kept asking questions until the man eventually took off his mask. “I’m hurting,” he said. “I’m just really going through something right now.” When asked if he was feeling suicidal, the man nodded.

Lewis is founder of The Confess Project, a mental health initiative for boys and men of color. His demonstration was attempting to show barbers and their clients how men hold in their pain—and how to break through.

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