04-22-2024  1:06 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
  • Cloud 9 Cannabis CEO and co-owner Sam Ward Jr., left, and co-owner Dennis Turner pose at their shop, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024, in Arlington, Wash. Cloud 9 is one of the first dispensaries to open under the Washington Liquor and Cannabis Board's social equity program, established in efforts to remedy some of the disproportionate effects marijuana prohibition had on communities of color. (AP Photo/Lindsey Wasson)

    The Drug War Devastated Black and Other Minority Communities. Is Marijuana Legalization Helping?

    A major argument for legalizing the adult use of cannabis after 75 years of prohibition was to stop the harm caused by disproportionate enforcement of drug laws in Black, Latino and other minority communities. But efforts to help those most affected participate in the newly legal sector have been halting.  Read More
  • Lessons for Cities from Seattle’s Racial and Social Justice Law 

    Lessons for Cities from Seattle’s Racial and Social Justice Law 

     Seattle is marking the first anniversary of its landmark Race and Social Justice Initiative ordinance. Signed into law in April 2023, the ordinance highlights race and racism because of the pervasive inequities experienced by people of color Read More
  • A woman gathers possessions to take before a homeless encampment was cleaned up in San Francisco, Aug. 29, 2023. The Supreme Court will hear its most significant case on homelessness in decades Monday, April 22, 2024, as record numbers of people in America are without a permanent place to live. The justices will consider a challenge to rulings from a California-based federal appeals court that found punishing people for sleeping outside when shelter space is lacking amounts to unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File)

    Supreme Court to Weigh Bans on Sleeping Outdoors 

    The Supreme Court will consider whether banning homeless people from sleeping outside when shelter space is lacking amounts to cruel and unusual punishment on Monday. The case is considered the most significant to come before the high court in decades on homelessness, which is reaching record levels In California and other Western states. Courts have ruled that it’s unconstitutional to fine and arrest people sleeping in homeless encampments if shelter Read More
  • Richard Wallace, founder and director of Equity and Transformation, poses for a portrait at the Westside Justice Center, Friday, March 29, 2024, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Erin Hooley)

    Chicago's Response to Migrant Influx Stirs Longstanding Frustrations Among Black Residents

    With help from state and federal funds, the city has spent more than $300 million to provide housing, health care and more to over 38,000 mostly South American migrants. The speed with which these funds were marshaled has stirred widespread resentment among Black Chicagoans. But community leaders are trying to ease racial tensions and channel the public’s frustrations into agitating for the greater good. Read More
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NORTHWEST NEWS

The Drug War Devastated Black and Other Minority Communities. Is Marijuana Legalization Helping?

A major argument for legalizing the adult use of cannabis after 75 years of prohibition was to stop the harm caused by disproportionate enforcement of drug laws in Black, Latino and other minority communities. But efforts to help those most affected participate in the newly legal sector have been halting. 

Lessons for Cities from Seattle’s Racial and Social Justice Law 

 Seattle is marking the first anniversary of its landmark Race and Social Justice Initiative ordinance. Signed into law in April 2023, the ordinance highlights race and racism because of the pervasive inequities experienced by people of color

Don’t Shoot Portland, University of Oregon Team Up for Black Narratives, Memory

The yearly Memory Work for Black Lives Plenary shows the power of preservation.

Grants Pass Anti-Camping Laws Head to Supreme Court

Grants Pass in southern Oregon has become the unlikely face of the nation’s homelessness crisis as its case over anti-camping laws goes to the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled for April 22. The case has broad implications for cities, including whether they can fine or jail people for camping in public. Since 2020, court orders have barred Grants Pass from enforcing its anti-camping laws. Now, the city is asking the justices to review lower court rulings it says has prevented it from addressing the city's homelessness crisis. Rights groups say people shouldn’t be punished for lacking housing.

NEWS BRIEFS

Earth Day Announcement: Mt. Tabor Park Selected as a 2024 Leave No Trace Spotlight

Mt. Tabor Park is the only Oregon park and one of just 24 nationally to receive honor. ...

OHCS, BuildUp Oregon Launch Program to Expand Early Childhood Education Access Statewide

Funds include million for developing early care and education facilities co-located with affordable housing. ...

Governor Kotek Announces Chief of Staff, New Office Leadership

Governor expands executive team and names new Housing and Homelessness Initiative Director ...

Governor Kotek Announces Investment in New CHIPS Child Care Fund

5 Million dollars from Oregon CHIPS Act to be allocated to new Child Care Fund ...

Bank Announces 14th Annual “I Got Bank” Contest for Youth in Celebration of National Financial Literacy Month

The nation’s largest Black-owned bank will choose ten winners and award each a $1,000 savings account ...

With homelessness on the rise, the Supreme Court weighs bans on sleeping outdoors

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court wrestled with major questions about the growing issue of homelessness on Monday as it considered whether cities can ban people from sleeping outside when shelter space is lacking. The case is considered the most significant to come before the...

Oregon lodge famously featured in 'The Shining' will reopen to guests after fire forced evacuations

GOVERNMENT CAMP, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's historic Timberline Lodge, which featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film “The Shining,” will reopen to guests Sunday after a fire that prompted evacuations but caused only minimal damage. The lodge said Saturday in a Facebook post that it...

Two-time world champ J’den Cox retires at US Olympic wrestling trials; 44-year-old reaches finals

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — J’den Cox walked off the mat after dropping a 2-2 decision to Kollin Moore at the U.S. Olympic wrestling trials on Friday night, leaving his shoes behind to a standing ovation. The bronze medal winner at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 was beaten by...

University of Missouri plans 0 million renovation of Memorial Stadium

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — The University of Missouri is planning a 0 million renovation of Memorial Stadium. The Memorial Stadium Improvements Project, expected to be completed by the 2026 season, will further enclose the north end of the stadium and add a variety of new premium...

OPINION

Stupid is as Stupid Does. C'mon People!

Trump and others of his ilk are constantly railing against Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. In my opinion, it's the new N-word. ...

Op-Ed: Why MAGA Policies Are Detrimental to Black Communities

NNPA NEWSWIRE – MAGA proponents peddle baseless claims of widespread voter fraud to justify voter suppression tactics that disproportionately target Black voters. From restrictive voter ID laws to purging voter rolls to limiting early voting hours, these...

Loving and Embracing the Differences in Our Youngest Learners

Yet our responsibility to all parents and society at large means we must do more to share insights, especially with underserved and under-resourced communities. ...

Gallup Finds Black Generational Divide on Affirmative Action

Each spring, many aspiring students and their families begin receiving college acceptance letters and offers of financial aid packages. This year’s college decisions will add yet another consideration: the effects of a 2023 Supreme Court, 6-3 ruling that...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Foundation to convene 3rd annual summit on anti-Asian hate, building AAPI coalitions

NEW YORK (AP) — A foundation launched in the wake of anti-Asian hate will hold a wide-ranging conference bringing together Asian American and Pacific Islander notable figures for a third year. The Asian American Foundation will hold a Heritage Month Summit next month in New York...

Iowa lawmakers address immigration, religious freedom and taxes in 2024 session

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — After a marathon day that stretched into Saturday's early hours, Iowa lawmakers wrapped up a four-month legislative session that focused on reforming the way special education is managed and speeding up tax cuts. The Republican-led General Assembly also waded into issues...

2nd former Arkansas officer pleads guilty to civil rights charge from violent arrest caught on video

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A second former Arkansas law enforcement officer has pleaded guilty to violating the civil rights of a man he repeatedly punched during a violent arrest in 2022 that was caught on video and shared widely. Former Crawford County sheriff's deputy Levi White...

ENTERTAINMENT

What to stream this weekend: Conan O’Brien travels, 'Migration' soars and Taylor Swift reigns

Zack Snyder’s “Rebel Moon – Part Two: The Scargiver” landing on Netflix and Taylor Swift’s “The Tortured Poets Department” album are some of the new television, movies, music and games headed to a device near you. Also among the streaming offerings worth your time as...

Music Review: Jazz pianist Fred Hersch creates subdued, lovely colors on 'Silent, Listening'

Jazz pianist Fred Hersch fully embraces the freedom that comes with improvisation on his solo album “Silent, Listening,” spontaneously composing and performing tunes that are often without melody, meter or form. Listening to them can be challenging and rewarding. The many-time...

Book Review: 'Nothing But the Bones' is a compelling noir novel at a breakneck pace

Nelson “Nails” McKenna isn’t very bright, stumbles over his words and often says what he’s thinking without realizing it. We first meet him as a boy reading a superhero comic on the banks of a river in his backcountry hometown in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia....

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Report urges fixes to online child exploitation CyberTipline before AI makes it worse

A tipline set up 26 years ago to combat online child exploitation has not lived up to its potential and needs...

Review of UN agency helping Palestinian refugees found Israel did not express concern about staff

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — An independent review of the neutrality of the U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees...

Work starts on bullet train rail line from Sin City to the City of Angels

LAS VEGAS (AP) — A billion high-speed passenger rail line between Las Vegas and the Los Angeles area has...

Israeli leaders criticize expected US sanctions against military unit that could further strain ties

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli leaders on Sunday harshly criticized an expected decision by the U.S. to impose...

Russia convicts the spokesperson for Facebook owner Meta in a swift trial in absentia

A court in Russia on Monday convicted the spokesperson of U.S. technology company Meta, which owns Facebook and...

A Palestinian baby in Gaza is born an orphan in an urgent cesarean section after an Israeli strike

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Sabreen Jouda came into the world seconds after her mother left it. Their...

Boys clean and prepare hair for wigs
By Jong Won Lee Special to the NNPA from Korea Daily

PHOTO: Hair for weaves and wigs is often imported from South Korea and China    

ATLANTA — For decades, South Korean immigrants have dominated the U. S. wig industry — a niche they carved out in part by winning over the African American market. Not only was competition relatively scarce, but their ties to textile manufacturers in South Korea put them in a unique position to fill a void in beauty supplies targeting African Americans.

“South Korea’s textile industry helped produce wigs that pushed into the American market,” notes Kwang Gyu Lee, emeritus professor in anthropology at Seoul National University. “Initially, Korean immigrants relied on imported supplies but later they completely monopolized the wig industry, from production, transportation, wholesale and retail.”

Some 8,500 Korean-owned beauty supply stores in the U.S. do an estimated $200 million in business annually, according to the Korean Beauty Supply Association. More than 70 percent of their customers are African American.

But these ties have begun to unravel as Korean wig shop owners feel the pinch of globalization. As labor costs spiked in South Korea, wig production moved to China where labor is cheaper. As a result, many Korean beauty supply stores that were once thriving are now struggling to survive.

“Customers began to look for lower cost beauty supplies,” says Il Hong Kim, head of the Korean Beauty Supply Association in Atlanta, where nearly all of the 700 or so beauty supply stores are Korean-owned.

A Korean owner of a beauty supply store in Santa Monica, Calif., who spoke on condition her name not be used, concurred. “Even though I started my business in the recession, I didn’t have problems,” she says. “But nowadays, the wig business is getting more globalized, with Chinese people embarking on the business, so our sales are dropping.”

Kim adds that small businesses, like his Korean beauty supply shop, are also feeling the effects of a tighter credit market.

“It’s getting difficult for new business owners to secure loans from banks,” he says, stressing that language presents an obstacle. “Koreans who want to start a business usually… get a loan from a Korean community bank, because it’s easier to communicate with staff there.”

Sang Wook Chung, owner of G’s Beauty Supply in Jonesboro, Ga., wanted to apply for a loan from a U.S. bank as his customer base was growing but says that dealing with American bankers was “very challenging.”

“They could not understand me,” Chung says. “I wish there was a Korean-speaking banker who can assist us and know about our business concerns.”

Undeterred, he went to a Korean community bank in his town. Although the interest was relatively higher compared to other American banks, and the amount of the loan he could get was smaller, the process was a lot easier.

“I had less paperwork because I didn’t have to show documents I would have had to get from South Korea,” he says. “And of course, there was no language barrier.”

An added challenge for Korean wig shop owners has been a recent spike in thefts of pricey wigs at their stores. Typically these thefts — dubbed “smash thefts” — involve a driver and other passengers who break into a shop and steal thousands of dollars in merchandise, leaving the shop owners almost bankrupt. Hair extensions made from human hair, for example, produced by companies like Remy Hair just outside Atlanta, can sell for up to $1,000.

After Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012, local Korean media reported smash thefts in Korean shops. Shop owners began putting serial numbers on expensive hair products and working with county police to track stolen items. Some began offering rewards for return of their merchandise.

At the same time, wig shop owners are taking steps to strengthen their ties with their traditional African American customer base.

The Korean Ethical Forum, a charitable organization that works to benefit Korean communities around the world, recently donated $50,000 to the Trumpet Awards Foundation, an African American advocacy group in Atlanta. The funds will be used to produce a documentary to promote African American student achievement in U.S. public schools, says Man Yo Han, head of the Forum.

“A colleague in the beauty supply business told me that back in the 1970s and 80s, wigs displayed in department stores catered mostly to white customers,” says Kim of the Korean Beauty Supply Association here. “Because of that, many African Americans began coming to Korean beauty supply shops. I’m proud to think that the Korean community was there to help.”

Jong Won Lee is the managing editor of Korea Daily in Atlanta.

This story was supported through a New America Media/Wells Fargo small business reporting fellowship.

 

The Skanner Foundation's 38th Annual MLK Breakfast