NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The Korean American Association of Greater New York is facilitating a partnership between businesses and residents in Black and brown communities after years of lingering tensions.
Kevin Livingston, founder of 100 Suits for 100 Men, threatened to start a boycott of Feel Beauty Supply locations after he felt overlooked when soliciting donations for his youth and senior programs, saying in a Facebook video, “We have to stop supporting establishments that do not support us.”
“We have no problem packing these stores up and leaving a line down the block, but when we come back to ask them to reinvest back into the community, it’s more often met with push-back,” Livingston told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.
Racial profiling to disrespect has fueled long-standing tensions between Asian-American businesses within Black and brown communities.
One led to a brawl at a Brooklyn nail salon in 2018.
“Going back really, I think, probably to the late ’70s and ’80s when a lot of Korean Americans were opening up stores in predominately Black neighborhoods, there were occasional flare-ups between store owners and customers,” said Charles Yoon, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York.
Yoon facilitated a meeting between Livingston and Charles Park, the owner of Feel Beauty.
“They were able to fund a young person so we can hire them off the street to have work for the summer,” Livingston said.
Park also agreed to work with Livingston to help provide jobs to residents who live in the communities they serve and promised to continue the conversation quarterly.
“We put a lot of money into that store. A lot of money to keep ourselves up, so that’s right, you should give back,” one woman said.
Positive results Yoon plans to expand through a broader awareness program.
“We would invite store owners to participate, really to give back in a more organized and conscious way to their local community,” Yoon said.
A blueprint they say on how to work together and finally close a lingering divide.