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Community redirects spending to support Black-owned business

By Rhodesia Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Jan 10, 2016 - 11:38:25 AM

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Rebecca and Cepha Pollius Owners of Empress Beauty Supply with Malik Muhammad Photo: Malik Muhammad, Jr.

WAXAHACHIE, Texas— Muslims of the Waxahachie Study Group of the Nation of Islam redirected customers of two Korean-owned beauty supply stores to spend their Black dollars at a nearby Black-owned beauty supply store as a way of redistributing the pain, a methodology Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Made known in 1968.

Malik Muhammad, Waxahachie Study Group Coordinator, inspired by the October 10 “Justice Or Else” gathering in Washington, D. C., began thinking on how to redistribute the pain in their city. The Believers felt that W. Pleasant Run Road, a street they call the main vein of the city, would be a good place to start since there were two Korean-owned beauty supply stores on that strip; one on the East end and one on the other end. The Black-owned business, Empress Beauty Supply Store, is located in between the two Korean-owned stores. A group of Muslims went to one store and another group went to the other store Nov. 14 and Nov. 21 to make sure those business consumers were aware of the Black-owned business that was located less than a mile away.

Korean owner confronting Malik Muhammad Photo: Ben Quan X

“We went out there already knowing our rights,” said Mr. Muhammad. “I had already spoken to my lawyer about code compliance. We knew that we were not violating any codes by speaking to the patrons about supporting their own.”

As a result, Rebecca Pollius, owner of Empress Beauty Supply said her revenue increased by 50 percent the first weekend and by 100 percent the second weekend. Muslims held “Up with Jesus, Down with Santa” signs as they informed everyone who pulled up to the store of the Black-owned beauty supply store that carried the same products the Korean-owned store.

Video footage showed the store owner and Jewish property managers calling the police and threatening to have the Muslims cars towed. However, upon arriving, the police officers informed them that the members of the Nation of Islam had not broken any laws and were well within their rights to continue what they were doing.

Mr. Muhammad asked the store owner how many White people walk through that door, after observing only Black people patronizing his store. Mr. Muhammad explained to him why they chose his business. “I’m here to let them [Black people] know they have an alternative to this store, so they can go and shop with their brother before they shop with you. That’s a right that they have,” he added.

Some patrons expressed feeling excited about supporting their own. “I pass Empress almost every day,” said Demetria Higgs. “I thought it was another store owned by Koreans. I had no idea it was Black-owned. I was actually excited to hear about the store and I will continue to support that business now that I know we are keeping our dollars with our own.”

When Brenda Jones pulled up and saw police, she initially thought something happened. “Then a welldressed brother asked me to ask him (police officer) what he was doing out there. When I asked, he said he wanted to inform me of a Blackowned beauty supply that was right up the road,” said Ms. Jones.

“I was happy to hear that because I was spending almost $100 in that store every time I went even though I had not always received the best treatment. Now, I will go that extra mile to put my money back into the community,” she said.

“I love my Black race,” said Dawn Brown. “When I found out it was a black woman who owned the beauty supply store they were sending me to, I wanted to support her.”

The Believers of the Waxahachie Study Group successfully redirected more than a 150 people to Empress Beauty Supply.