The Nail Salon Brawl: ‘Nothing to do with race’

From left to right: Michael Gao (president of Chinese-American Nail Salon Association), Jerry Lo (vice president of the Coalition of Asian Americans for Civil Rights), John Chan (Asian American Community Empowerment president), Kenneth Chiu (director general of Asian American Community Empowerment), Peter Yu (The Chinese Nail Salon Association of East America). (Photo by Ben Robson via Kings County Politics)

Members of Brooklyn’s Chinese-American community said that the recent brawl between Chinese employees and Black customers at the New Red Apple Nails salon in East Flatbush should not be taken as an indicator of poor race relations generally, writes Benjamin Robson in Kings County Politics.

Protesters, including Assemblywoman Diana Richardson (D-Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush), have called for the nail salon’s closure. But Asian American Community Empowerment President John Chan, speaking Sunday at the Golden Imperial Palace in Brooklyn’s Chinatown stressed: “This episode involved only one store in an area where relations between Chinese-Americans and African-Americans have largely been harmonious. It has nothing to do with race.”

According to Chan, in a meeting with U.S. Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-Crown Heights, Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Flatbush, East Flatbush, Midwood, Sheepshead Bay, Brownsville), Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens), Richardson, and leaders in the Chinese community, Richardson laid out a set of demands for the Chinese community as a whole in response to the incident. Those demands included a statement from the “Asian” community, as well as a public apology from the store owner, according to Chan.

Chan noted that he does not have control over the store owner and said, “We don’t see the action of individuals to be representative of an entire population.”

“Even as many of our countrymen in the food delivery trade befell victims to murderous and violent assaults, we’ve never held an entire population accountable,” Chan said.

A video that was posted on Facebook last week showed the Chinese nail salon employees hitting three Black female customers with broomsticks, after a dispute over the services that had been rendered and payment. But community leaders at the Sunday briefing said that the video footage was incomplete, and they faulted the media for inaccurate reporting following the event. Go to Kings County Politics to read more about what they had to say.

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