Discrimination Barry

Greetings Barry Carnahan,

  My name is Aja King and I am a parent of two children who participated within the Diamonds National Tournament. You and I met Saturday, November 2nd, 2019. I wanted to personally share my experience with about your lack of commitment to provide quality customer service to me. The incident occurred when I was walking with my son and exploring the various vendors at the Diamonds Tournament. I noticed your massage chair several times as I strolled with my son. At the time, you were providing services to a woman while I patiently waited. I listened to your sales pitch as you described the services to your client’s husband (i.e. vertebrae, massage techniques, etc.). You and I made eye contact as I waited for the couple to finish their demonstration, and you smiled, which seemed welcoming. So that I would not hover over the woman’s relaxing experience, I briefly walked away to another vendor so the couple could complete their session. Once I noticed the couple had completed their session, I walked back to your vending table where I noticed that you were providing the couple with follow-up information for services. Once you completed your information session with the couple, I approached you to inquire about a massage demonstration for myself.

First, when you shook my hand, you barely touched me. I almost equated the lack of full handshake with me being a woman, but I noticed that you shook the hands of the previous customers fully and without hesitation.

Second, your sheet advertised 20-minute sessions, but you stated that they were truly 15-minutes. Nonetheless, once I inquired about the services you proceeded to tell me that you were going on a break so you may spar in the tournament. I became very concerned that you “suddenly” needed to take a break once I inquired about a massage. Also, there was another man at the table waiting for services from you as well.

Third, once I noticed that you possibly did not want to provide me services, you informed me that “maybe” I could return to the booth. You did not provide any extra information, number, or any means to follow-up with a massage.

Lastly, once I walked away from the booth, you proceeded to massage the man that was at the table, and this occurred during the period which you stated that you were taking a break. I again, walked away for 5-10 minutes, and noticed that you were talking to the woman that was sitting behind you at your vending booth. Ultimately, after telling me you were taking a break, you remained at your booth another 15-20 minutes. I am sure of this because I timed you and circled back to validate my concerns. In all, you managed to massage one more person and have a conversation  

One part of this story that I have not mentioned which is very key to my concern, is that I am an African American woman who noticed you providing exceptional customer service to white patrons. I would define your lack of interest in my business as racism. Strong indicators of my experience were marked when you (1) did not want to touch my hand, (2) did not provide me services when I inquired, (3) did not give me ANY information to follow up for services, and (4) massaged someone after you let me leave. I later saw you on an elevator after the night’s events. While you did apologize for not being able to provide a massage, you also stated that “we owe you one.” Well, owing a potential customer should be followed by providing me information so I may seek your services. Several times I felt you intentionally did not try to keep me as a customer. I am a mental health professional who has been in the business of healing people for over 18 years. I am also an entrepreneur who knows that business depends on selling yourself to your potential client. I strongly experienced the EXACT opposite of what a business minded individual should do to gain a customer. Most importantly, Mr. Carnahan, it was noticeable that you preferred the business of white individuals versus the business with an African American. I do not want services from you because I do not believe they will be genuine. On the contrary, I do believe that this undermines the values and mission of the American Academy of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (AAAOM). My experience with you has reminded me that racism is not felt through microaggression, but rather, blatant behaviors that are just as demeaning and damaging. I hope that this letter serves as a reminder that providers are obligated to check their conscious and unconscious biases to remain vigilant in their craft. I do believe that you would benefit from ongoing clinical training concerning ways to remain open to multicultural backgrounds, and the ethical considerations as a medical provider. I thank you for your consideration, and I do hope that other minorities do not experience this level of mistreatment that you have perpetuated towards me.


Dr. Aja Dionna King, LPCC

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