For Paul Sumbu and Akeem White, their business was met with tirades, some racist and some not, but they persevered. With the backing of their community they rose above online hatred, misinformation and defamation and have now been in business for several years.
Paul was born in Moncton though he relocated and Akeem was born in Scarborough, Ontario and moved to Moncton to attend Crandall University. Each gentleman, while independently looking for work, answered a Kijiji ad helping a moving company as some side money.
Paul and Akeem had friends in similar circles but didn’t realize they had both been working for the same moving company. Coincidentally both men ended up finally meeting in person while helping another Black business owner run a daycare. Paul and Akeem’s connection grew through the daycare, so when the owner of the moving company decided to back out of a job for a family on the day of their move, Akeem called Paul knowing he was a stand-up guy who would help this family. Unbeknownst to the owner, Paul and Akeem stepped up and did the move on their own, expecting cash from the family. The family they helped was also Black, so Paul and Akeem felt an affinity to help them.
Paul and Akeem took this moment to reflect on how easy it was to help this family, the way in which they worked together and decided to go into business together and found their own moving company. Of course, this angered the other moving company owner who then started to spread rumours and misinformation about Paul and Akeem. He also tried to paint them as former criminals. As Black men, this just added an additional burden to their emerging business.
Paul and Akeem, now Three Kings Moving, kept their noses to the ground and continued working while this online slandering occurred. Not long after, another person came out of the woodwork to try to take Paul and Akeem down a peg. A random person contacted Paul and Akeem saying that they had purchased the name Three Kings Moving and “now owned them”. Paul and Akeem perceived this comment as inherently racist.
Paul and Akeem had not registered the business name as they were given advice to ensure this was the job they wanted to be doing and perfect the business before going through the registration process. Paul adds, “I had previously registered a business and knew the process but I didn’t expect another person to be so cutthroat and take someone’s business name.”
While this person purchased the business name registry due to Paul and Akeem’s critical error, Paul and Akeem owned the website domain and the logo and they continued to help families move. When Paul and Akeem wouldn’t budge, this person started pretending to be affiliated with Three Kings, trying to get their car wrapped with the logo Paul and Akeem created and trying to steal clients. The community of Moncton and beyond rallied around Paul and Akeem by showing support online and contacting the unscrupulous individual, effectively forcing this tyrant to cease and desist. Because of this entire ordeal, Paul and Akeem rebranded to Queen and Kings Moving despite the person eventually relinquishing the registration of the business name.
Paul shares that he didn’t remember the Moncton community as being supportive of Black people when he first lived here but “it was definitely nice to have community support” many years later, as they started to receive this hatred and backlash.
Saly Davis is a member of the community and activist who owns The Human Voices Foundation which works on advocating and mediating conversations for racialized individuals dealing with systemic racism. She's also the host of We Can Fight Like Cats, a podcast centred around the issues faced by racialized minorities and immigrants in New Brunswick. Saly says she felt “utter shock and disgust” seeing the Three Kings company name registered maliciously.
“I felt the words were intentionally used. This was, in my opinion, a calculated and intentional act of racial oppression and abuse.” When Saly heard what happened she interviewed Paul and Akeem on We Can Fight Like Cats to allow them to share their experience. Through the Human Voices Foundation she contacted press to get media attention and used all of her platforms to share Paul and Akeem’s story. As a small business owner, Saly knew what these experiences were like as she and her partner had been racially attacked in the same community.
Akeem feels the quote, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members” accurately represents how this drama unfolded and was resolved. “This quote means that the true value of a society or group is determined by the kind actions and behaviour of its individual members towards others. The degree of empathy, care, and willingness to help others in need is a reflection of how great a community truly is, regardless of its size, wealth, or other external factors. It emphasizes the importance of kindness, empathy, and mutual support in creating a thriving and harmonious community. Clearly, I've done well with trying to do right by our community to fit in the right way. So when this all happened, it was nice not to ask for help because everyone knew who we were and what we brought to our community. It was easy for them to rally behind us."