Two Queens lawmakers establish community partnership to bridge cultural divide between Black and Korean Americans in southeast Queens

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Photo courtesy of Assemblyman Ron Kim’s office

As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to make strides across the country, state Assembly members Ron Kim and Alicia Hyndman are working to bridge economic and cultural opportunities between the Black and Korean American communities in southeast Queens. 

Kim and Hyndman, along with Charles Yoon, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, have brokered a community partnership plan that begins with Feel Beauty, a Korean Beauty Supply chain store that will donate monetary aid to 100 Suits, a nonprofit in southeast Queens that employs young Black men and women to serve their community.

Feel Beauty, which has multiple branches in southeast Queens, has also agreed to quarterly conversations and will begin the process of increasing opportunities for upper level management for their 70 percent African-American workforce. 

On June 13, KAAGNY led a delegation of Korean American community leaders to meet with Rev. Al Sharpton and the National Action Network in demonstration of solidarity, according to Yoon. 

“KAAGNY is committed to promoting greater understanding and collaboration between the Black and Korean American Community,” Yoon said.  I am grateful to Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman and Assemblyman Ron Kim for engaging KAAGNY to reach out to Feel Beauty to craft a winning solution together with Mr. Kevin Livingston, Founder of 100 Suits for 100 Men, to benefit both the Black and the Korean American community.”

According to Hyndman, the southeast Queens community was prepared to boycott Feel Beauty for a lack of proper communication and access to aid for its neighborhood. With the help of Kim, they were able to build an access channel for years to come. 

“I am grateful for the allyship of our Korean community and hope this becomes a contagious act of positivity for other communities and businesses in New York City,” Hyndman said. 

While growing up in New York City and witnessing conflicts between Black and Asian American businesses, Kim was torn by seeing the communities pitted against each other.

“As an elected official, this is the fourth time I intervened to de-escalate confrontations between Black and Asian communities which resulted in strengthening community relations, instead of dividing,” Kim said. “I’m proud to support Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman in walking back a scheduled boycott of an Asian-owned beauty supply chain store as we worked with the owners to fund summer youth programs and the hiring of more black employees from the South Queens community.” 

At the same time, Kim says he recognizes the importance of creating new wealth and value for the black community, which is why they’re supporting more black-owned worker cooperatives and small businesses.  

“Queens is known as the ‘World’s Borough’ for a reason. We have a duty now more than ever to bridge cultural divides within our diverse communities. Black people are exhausted, battling oppression, racism, micro and macro aggressions and COVID-19 all at once and we are not taking it idly anymore,” Kim said.

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