CHATHAM – Tensions flared in a South Side Facebook group earlier this month after a local business staged a bikini car wash to raise money for school supplies.
RavVishing Hair Owner Kijwana Thompson hosted the fundraiser on August 14 in the parking lot of her store, 72 E. 75th St. She has hosted the event for the past five years, gathering friends, family, and stylists to “wash the cars and have fun.” ,’ said Thompson.
Thompson buys back-to-school supplies, such as satchels and school supplies and surprise gift cards, for families. She uses the proceeds from the car wash as compensation, she said. She hands out the items to families who drive by or stop at the company, she said.
This year, Thompson’s team spent about $2,000 on school supplies, gift cards and hair braiding services for families going back to school, and they’ve raised about $600 this year from the car wash, Thompson said.
“We come out as family and friends and help each other because we’re doing it for a good cause,” Thompson said. “We never really take a lot of pictures or videos or just tell a lot of people about it, but it’s something we just do every year for the kids.”
Thompson hosted the event in August without incident. She received approval from the local police, on the condition that she “don’t block traffic or sidewalks and keep the event on private property,” Thompson said.
Four days later, the Concerned Citizens of Chatham’s Facebook page posted about the car wash, telling members that they had reported Thompson’s affairs to the city’s business department.
Worlee Glover, a decades-long Chatham resident who runs the Facebook page, compared the event to the Starz series “P-Valley,” which tells the stories of people who work at a strip club in a fictional Mississippi town.
“There were reports this weekend that some young ladies thought they could turn 75th Street, Chicago in Chucalissa, madam with a bikini car wash,” the post said. “It was alleged that they were operating in the parking lot of Ravvishing Hair 72 E. 75th.”
But the most recent complaint the city’s Department of Business and Consumer Protection received about RavVishing Hair was in March 2020, “and none of the complaints mentioned ‘bikini car wash,'” spokesman Elisa Sledzinska said in a statement.
Glover said in an interview that he had never heard of the bikini car wash. A friend had tagged him in a Facebook post notifying him of the car wash days after it happened, he said.
Glover posted about it on Concerned Citizens because he was concerned about what kind of business the bikini car wash would attract and that traffic could block neighbors from reaching their homes, he said.
“The comments [on my friend’s post] it sounded like this was more than just women washing cars,” Glover said. “I spoke to a witness and they said it wasn’t a bikini car wash. It was more than that. A bikini car wash to raise money for school supplies left a question in my head. Why did you have to go to great lengths to raise money for school supplies?”
Neighbors flocked to Glover’s post. Some linked the event to problems in the community.
“My building is a few blocks away. Chatham has crashed,” one person commented. “It used to be a beautiful neighborhood, now it’s a hot ghetto mess.”
Others came together to support Thompson, her business, and the car wash.
“I see zero criminal activity for their back-to-school event fundraiser,” one person commented. “What if we start worrying about REAL criminals taking our communities away instead of the people giving back?!? This world is backwards…”
Thompson also commented on Glover’s post, saying that RavVishing Hair has been hosting the event in the community for years with police permission. She asked for suggestions for next year’s fundraiser “to move the needle forward”.
“As a prominent Black-owned small business, it has always been a pleasure for me to serve the Chatham community,” Thompson writes. “It is my life mission to UPLIFT and empower my community, family and friends! …I work with like-minded individuals who want to see change and are actively on the road to making a difference!”
Glover fired back and told Thompson to take the case to a community meeting.
“You know where to go for the Park Manor Neighbors meeting and you know the contact, so thanks for this rant,” Glover replied.
Thompson said the post and some of the comments “defame her character and business,” but she was happy to see friends and strangers supporting her.
The characterization of the event was unfair, with most of the women participating wearing a cover-up or shorts, Thompson said. If Glover had approached her instead of posting on social media and “talking about my business like I’m running a hoe house or something,” she would have been willing to explain the purpose of the car wash.
Instead, Glover’s response makes Thompson “want to get bigger,” she said.
Next year, Thompson is preparing to “become a community leader” and ask neighbors to come and support the fundraiser, she said.
“Instead of bashing your people, talk to people and get to know them to see who they are before making your assumptions,” Thompson said. “If he had come and said something to me, maybe things would have changed for next year. Now I’m going harder. I’m going to tune in to the Chatham area.”
This won’t be the first or the last time Glover’s Facebook page gets attention, he said. He hopes Thompson will keep her promise next year, he said.
“I’ll see her at the Park Manor Neighbors community meeting and talk about it,” Glover said. “She needs to take a few steps back and get in touch with the community. Let them know if she wants to do it next time.’
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