Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Phillip Agnew launches 'Black Card' tonight

Posted By on Tue, Nov 1, 2011 at 4:15 PM

A 25-year-old Charlotte man could have taken what he calls an incident of racial profiling at the EpiCentre over the summer and just moved on. Instead, Phillip Agnew chose to start a movement in Charlotte to bring solidarity and economic empowerment to the city's African American-owned businesses.

Agnew was arrested on June 2 and charged with second-degree trespassing after a security guard at the EpiCentre told him he was in violation of the entertainment complex's dress code. He was wearing a ball cap turned sideways. The case is still pending.

This is how Qcity metro reported the incident on June 15:

Agnew had gone there on a Friday evening with friends to enjoy live music and unwind after work.

The guard, who was African American, told police that Agnew’s hat was in violation of the EpiCentre’s dress code.

Agnew said that at the time of his arrest he was dressed like many other young people in the crowd — shorts, T-shirt and a hat that he wore slightly askew.

“This is an outdoor event and people are dressed casually” he said. “There might have been some people who came straight from work, but for the majority of the people, they are dressed casually."

Rather than holding a grudge, Agnew thought of a way to steer customers to Charlotte's minority-owned businesses. He launched The Charlotte Collective, which sponsors the Black Card program. Agnew launches the program tonight at 6:30 during an event at Kalu Asian Bistro, 505 E. 6th Street.

"Our entire goal with the program is to open up African American-owned businesses to a market segment in Charlotte that may not be aware of their presence," Agnew told Creative Loafing earlier today.

The Black Card program is free, Agnew said. "Having the card is free, participation as a business owner on the website is free. There is no catch. Everything is free."

The card works like this: businesses that participate offer a discount, around 10 percent, to card holds. The amount of the discount is up each participating business, Agnew said. Some businesses have built in a loyalty component, offering larger discounts and freebies the more a person shops.

Participating businesses will be listed on the Shopblackcard website, along with a description of their services and locations. So far, 33 are offering Black Card discounts, said Agnew. He expects at least 20 more business in the Charlotte area to sign on to the Black Card.

At tonight's event, participating businesses will be in attendance and customers can sign up for the card, which will be mailed out on Friday.

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