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Amid Calls For Shutting Down Asian Salon, Calls For More Thriving Black Businesses

By Janiah Adams And Daleel Muhammad | Last updated: Aug 14, 2018 - 11:17:22 AM

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Residents in Brooklyn, N.Y. gather in front of a nail salon that mistreated members of the Black community.

NEW YORK—Karla Cerrington has never seen business quite like she did the first week of August. Her nail salon, The Nail Belle, off of Malcolm X Blvd in Brooklyn, is located about three to four miles away from New Red Apple Nail Salon, where two Black women were allegedly beaten by Asians following a dispute. Since the incident took place, Ms. Cerrington has seen a lot of support.

“People are literally saying, ‘Is this a Black-owned salon?’ ” Ms. Cerrington said. “I’ve seen that question probably four times as much since it happened.”

After a video of Asian salon workers and Black female customers fighting came out online, protests and rallies in defense of the Black women were organized. The online video reported that a dispute arose over a $5 eyebrow service for a Black mother and grandmother, who had also had their nails done in the shop. In the video, several Asian women are seen attacking a Black female. Calls came for the New Red Apple Nail Salon, and its sister salon, to shut down. Now, with the protests and rallies slowly subsiding, organizers and community leaders see the growth of Black-owned businesses as a must.

Soon after the video surfaced, a petition aimed at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared on The petition has over 7,000 signatures, with a goal of 10,000, and demands that Gov. Cuomo shut down New Red Apple Nail Salon to “remove toxic establishments from our community.”

Protestors picketed the salon and got close to the suspected attackers of the women early Aug. 6, with police escorting the workers into a van. Signs were left on the salon’s shutters, one read, “You can’t love black money & culture if you don’t love black people.” “You are hereby evicted by the community!!” said another sign.


According to New York news sources, Huiyue Zheng, one of the salon workers, faces charges of assault, menacing and criminal possession of a weapon. Christina Thomas, who was struck with a broomstick, also faces assault charges. The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office is continuing to examine more evidence and could alter the charges.

“My immediate response is not to go to that salon, and even better, let’s make our own and stop supporting those who don’t support us,” said Nayaba Arinde, editor of the New York Amsterdam News. “We have historically closed down places that have disrespected us and I think this is one of those cases. We can also use this as a teachable moment to focus on Black businesses.”

All over social media, people have shared alternative Black-owned nail salons in Brooklyn to support. Even people outside of Brooklyn have come to support Ms. Cerrington’s salon. She’s gotten customers from the Bronx, which is about an hour away from her shop and even had a customer from Connecticut.

All of the support has caused her shop to break personal records.

“I can tell you that I haven’t seen days like this since I’ve opened in 2016,” she said. Even historically slow days, Tuesday and Wednesday, were record breaking, she added.

Ms. Cerrington hopes the increase in business continues. Prior to the incident, she said she did not experience this level of support from the community.

Ms. Arinde, who lives in Brooklyn, said she passes by at least three Asian-owned nail salons on her way home.

“In my opinion, since the incident, they’re not as busy as usual,” she said. “People have stories of their own. The least we can do is not fraternize that particular store.”

April Silver, owner of Akila Worksongs, a public relations agency, is happy to see Blacks supporting Black-owned businesses, but said it’s something that should happen constantly.

Members of the Black community united and mobilized to shut down a business that mistreated and disrespected patrons.
“I believe that Black-owned businesses need the support of the community not just when something like that happens, when they’ve been mistreated in another place,” Ms. Silver said. “Black people need to proactively look out for directories of Black-owned businesses in their communities. If one doesn’t exist, they should compile it.”

The mosque in New York has been supportive of the efforts made to help pave the way forward, said Abdul Hafeez Muhammad, the eastern region student minister for the Nation of Islam.

“Our involvement is not a personal one. We are involved with directing our people toward Black-owned nail salons,” Mr. Muhammad said. “We want to see our own. So what we’ve been doing is supporting whatever protests are there, but we have not gone and involved ourselves there because that is not our way. We’re guiding our people to opening a Black nail salon.”

Mr. Muhammad said this is not an isolated incident. He remembers a conflict between an Asian-American grocer and Black residents in 1990.

“This is a sign of a mindset of Koreans who do business in our community everywhere,” Mr. Muhammad said. “It just shows the apathy that they’ll take our money, but they have no respect for us as a people. As Minister Farrakhan has taught us, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, then go open up for yourself.”