Diversity Flourishes in a Houston Suburb

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December 17, 2022

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(CYPRESS, Texas) – On a Saturday afternoon, King’s Crown Grooming Station is packed. Men, boys and occasionally women crowd every available seat, waiting to get a cutting-edge cut. The TV plays in the background while conversations about sports and life fill the space. Every 45 minutes, seats transition from one customer to the next. Chris Mason is the owner. He’s been a barber for 20 years and was working about 10 minutes away from where the barbershop is located. “I saw a space in the market for a Black-owned barbershop,” Mason said. Cypress was diversifying; between 2010 and 2020, the percentage of Black residents who live in the community rose from 14 to 18 percent, according to the US census. Black people needed a local place to cut their hair. Mason was ready to provide it.

Chairs are filling up inside King’s Crown Grooming Station. [Credit: King’s Crown Grooming Station]

Texas is known for its far-right conservative culture. But there’s another side to the lone star state. It’s quickly becoming one of the most diverse places to live in America. That’s particularly true in Cypress, a historically white suburban area which is transitioning into a community of color.  Today, 47 percent of residents identify as minorities, according to the latest census numbers.  Along with growth in the Black community, the Hispanic share of the population rose from 25 – 30 percent, and the number of Asian residents increased too.  

All this diversity has translated into real economic development for Cypress. As residents flock to the suburb, new businesses are thriving and new real estate developments are popping up.  Today, the average price of a home in Cypress is over $400,000, according to the real estate site Zillow, which is nearly $100,000 above the average price in the state as a whole. “Cypress has grown so fast, in some cases, that I’ve almost felt disoriented a time or two driving through a familiar area,” said Andrea Curran, a local real estate broker. 

Curran has lived in the area since 2009, and worked as an agent since 2016. She sells residential and commercial properties, as well as ranch and farmland. Overtime, her clientele has diversified. They are well-heeled professionals with good jobs. They want to live in communities with amenities that serve their needs. 

“They like nice things. They like luxury. They like amenities,” said Curran. “Most of our clients are self-made. They’ve worked hard to get where they are, and they appreciate those things.” 

A Friday night football game between Cypress Woods High School and Cy-Fair High School at Ken Pridgeon Stadium. [Credit: CFISD]

Many of these new residents arrive with children, and the changing face of Cypress can be seen in the school hallways. In the 1980s, “demographically, this was largely an Anglo or white majority school district,” said Tom Jackson, president of the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District (CFISD) Board of Trustees. CFISD is the third-largest school district in Texas. Over 9,000 new students have enrolled in the last decade. “Today we’re about twenty percent white, we’re about twenty percent Black, I think about fourteen percent Asian and the rest of the students are Hispanic.” 

The influx of residents is largely due to gentrification in Houston pushing out minority groups. But from Jackson’s perspective, it’s been good for the schools of Cypress. “We are an A-rated district. We have never had a failing school.” The school board is engaged in recruitment efforts to have the faculty and staff better reflect the diversity of the students it serves. “I just think it helps. And in fact, we know the research shows that it does. But making that change is gradual and we have to be focused on it continually,” Jackson said.

Pastor Sherrell Ogletree preaches to the people of Image Church. [Credit: DJ Waller]

Along with new businesses, like Kings Crown Grooming Station, places of worship have become important spaces for new residents to congregate. On Sunday mornings, Image Church opens its doors to a predominantly Black congregation. They represent all ages and come from every walk of life. The church identifies as non-denominational, but when the choir sings, it’s gospel songs. When the choir finishes, Pastor Joe Ogletree takes the podium. 

“It is the first time we’ve had a full house since doing service in person in this building,” Ogletree said to the roughly 80 parishioners who filled every available seat.  It has been a year since the congregation moved into its current building, a church they commissioned in 2017 in part to serve and expand the Black community in Cypress. “There were no Black churches in the community,” said Tondaleea Sam, a member of the worship team. “Ever since we’ve moved here, the support has been shown every Sunday,” 

But even with their new building, the church is already bursting at the seams. They want to remodel the inside of the building to create more space and add portable buildings outside for youth ministries. “We’ve looked into it and it’s going to be about $200,000,” Ogletree said to the congregation, hoping some of them might pitch in to help with the cost.  

Back at the Kings Crown, the last few clients finish getting their haircuts. The smiles on their faces show their satisfaction. Money exchanges hands and is followed by a dap – an informal handshake between barbers and clients. The dap is commonly used in the Black community and amongst younger people. It’s another aspect the barbershop brings to the community. The dap is not commonly used at other businesses. 

After a busy day of serving the community, Mason shares what he’s most grateful for about Cypress. “Everyone has that chance to advance and place their families in a better environment.” Cypress is proof that more diversity can bring affluence to a community.

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