Less than a month after a black woman was kicked and choked inside a Korean-owned beauty supply store, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg branch of the NAACP will meet with the national Council of Korean Americans to discuss the incident.
At a press conference Tuesday, local NAACP President Corine Mack said the meeting will be hosted by the Community Relations Committee, a city-county organization created to enforce local human relations and fair housing ordinances. The meeting is scheduled for April 4.
Meanwhile, a small group of women outraged over the incident announced at the same press conference that they would begin encouraging black consumers to spend their dollars with black-owned stores.
“Because we are supporting the growth of black people does not mean we are against anyone else,” said Nekie Boyd, who is organizing that effort. “We simply want more for our people.”
Willie Ratchford, executive director of the Community Relations Committee, told Qcitymetro that his organization would provide a “safe space” for the two sides to talk. He said the organization’s role would not act as a mediator.
Based in Washington, D.C., the Council of Korean Americans says on its website that it is a “global network…dedicated to advancing issues of national importance” to the Korean American community. The group could not be immediately reached for comment.
For those who missed it…
The meeting was called to discuss a March 9 incident that happened inside Missha Beauty on Wilkinson Boulevard. In a video posted to Facebook, the store’s owner, Sung Ho Lim, can be seen struggling with a woman accused of shoplifting.
In the video, the woman is heard telling Lim, “Check my bag. I don’t have anything.”
The video then shows the two shove each other, at which point Lim said, “You hit me.”
Moments later, Lim kicks the woman, knocks her to the floor and puts her in a chokehold. A second person can be seen helping to restrain the customer.
According to a police report that Lim filed for strong armed robbery, the woman is accused of stealing eyelashes from the store. Police, so far, have made no arrests – a point not lost on the woman’s attorney, Yolanda Trotman, who said she has some “very grave concerns” about how the case is being handled by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
A line in the sand
Mack, the NAACP president, said she was disappointed by what she characterized as a slow response from police and city leaders. “The issue is that there was a woman who almost lost her life,” she said, referencing the Eric Garner case in New York in which a black man, saying “I can’t breath,” died after being put in a chokehold by a city police officer.
“It’s important that every citizen in this city realizes that it could have been you. It could have been your daughter; it could have been your mother or any other relative in your family,” Mack said.
“We, meaning the people of Charlotte, must stand up when we see this kind of absolute disgusting display of respect for women,” she added. “This cannot be tolerated. No woman should be abused in that way.”
The Rev. Dwayne Walker, pastor of Little Rock AME Zion Church, said he was “appalled by the fact that we even have to have this conversation and to put a spotlight on this…”
He said the woman was treated in an “inhumane” way.
“We will be watching very close, because this, of course, sets a dangerous precedent in our nation when this type of thing goes unchallenged and this particular person is not punished or brought up on charges,” he said.
A long-simmering issue
The presence of immigrant-owned stores in low-income, black communities has long been a point of contention for some. And perhaps nothing symbolizes that tension more so than the beauty supply business, a large portion of which is controlled by Asian Americans. Research, however, shows that the industry is supported disproportionately by African American women, who spend billions of dollars each year on hair care products and hair extensions.
At Tuesday’s press conference, a coalition of African American activists said the time had come for change, and reporters were given a list of 15 black-owned beauty supply stores that the group would be encouraging African Americans to support.
“The beauty salon industry is a $9 billion industry, and guess who supports that industry. We have, black women. And I don’t think you understand your power,” Boyd said. “…This is not a moment. This is a movement. This is a lifestyle.”
Mack said the issue is one of respect.
“Be very clear: the African American community will no longer have you come into our community and suck up our economic power and not allow us opportunity to be afforded the same right of having our own stores, our own businesses and building our own communities,” she said. “If our money is good enough for you, then our rights should be good enough for you. And we will not tolerate this kind of disrespect.”
Redirecting our dollars
The group handed out this list of black-owned beauty supply stores in Charlotte.
Save More Beauty Supply
7008 E. WT Harris Blvd., #17
7411 E. Independence Blvd., #29
Galaxy Beauty Supply
2400 W. Sugar Creek Rd.
Beaute Mark Beauty Supply
8909 Bellhaven Blvd.
201 W. Arrowood Road
Essence Beauty Supply
10227 University City Blvd.
Mane & Beat Beauty Boutique
2106 Ayrsley Town Blvd.
3038 Eastway Drive
Nile Beauty Supply
4005 Sunset Road A
AJC 3 Beauty Supply
2729 N. Tryon St., Suite C
Sal Beauty Supply
9115 Samlen Rd., Suite 102
Choco Beauty Supply
1708 Harris Houston Road
TNT Hair Explosion Beauty Supply
359 Union Cemetery Road, Concord, N.C.
Salon Central of the Carolinas
2925 East Independence Blvd.
Real Beautify Hair by Jada (hair distributor only)
2103 N. Graham St., Unit B