Manny Otiko 

California Black Media

Richard Glass is a Los Angeles-area hairstylist, who is known to fans and clients as the “hardest working man in hair.”

Glass has worked with clients such as Debbie Allen, Wood Harris, Garcelle Beauvais and Phylicia Rashad. He started training in hairstyling at 17, and his work has been featured in magazines like People, Oprah and Playboy. 

The Style Network show “Split Ends” has also featured Glass’s work and his signature line, Glass Hair Products. Grammy Award-winning singer Faith Evans is a spokesperson for the haircare line. 

Currently, Glass is featured in a campaign encouraging African Americans to get the coronavirus vaccine. He was vaccinated as part of an initiative titled VaccinateALL58.com, California’s statewide COVID-19 safety and awareness effort. 

In a video, he said getting the vaccine was important for him because it was a matter of safety. 

“Safety is key as a hairdresser,” said Glass. “Once the vaccine was readily available, I knew things would sort of open up and get back to normal.”

Because there is a lot of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic and the vaccine, Glass advises African Americans to seek information from medical professionals, not their friends or social media. 

“I’m not going to take advice from someone who failed 7th-grade health,” he jests. 

African Americans have a long history of distrust of the medical community because of many historical incidents, including the Tuskegee Experiment. That federal government medical project involved African American men who were used as guinea pigs in the study of syphilis. The experiment ended in 1972 and President Bill Clinton apologized for it in 1997. 

Glass added that getting vaccinated is about public health and community safety. 

“We have to be here for each other,” he said. 

This message is echoed by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. 

“Getting vaccinated not only protects ourselves, but also our family and friends. This is especially helpful in protecting people who are not vaccinated and those at higher risk of getting severe disease if they get COVID-19, such as older adults and those with certain medical conditions,” according to a statement from the agency’s website.

Medical scientists who have studied the disease say the virus constantly mutates and changes as it encounters new hosts. The key to ending the pandemic is stopping the virus from finding new hosts (unvaccinated bodies.)

According to data from the Center for Disease Control, about 75 percent of Americans are vaccinated. But African Americans and Latinos lag in national vaccination rates, although that gap is decreasing. 

“The current authorized COVID-19 vaccines offer a high degree of protection against severe disease, hospitalizations, and death, even from the new Delta variant. The vast majority, over 90 percent of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19 are unvaccinated people,” reports the VaccinateAll58 website.