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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Welcome to Atlanta: Young Talk

Andrew Young was one of my role models as a kid. He lived around my elementary school and came in to visit on occasion. He was my mayor at that time. Recently he has been scrutinized for his affiliation with Wal-Mart. While it confused me as well, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. Now, it seems that comments he has made in defense of Wal-Mart have caused a little stir.

The New York Times reads:

Andrew Young built his fame as the first lieutenant of the civil rights movement, working closely with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and becoming the first black congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction.

A street here is named after him, as is a school of public policy. And there are plans to erect a statue in his honor. So vast is his reservoir of good will, apparently, that even a racially inflammatory comment he made this week seemed unlikely to draw it down.

Instead, people who have known Mr. Young for decades seem rather satisfied that his comment that Jewish, Arab and Korean store owners had ripped off black neighborhoods, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables had severed his link with his most high-profile client, Wal-Mart Stores, in whose defense he made the remark.

Now I know that it is not true that ALL of the above groups mentioned do not provide sub-standard, health department violating service, but, those who do and those who don't are few and far between. Only recently have I witnessed an overall improvement of business practices by outsiders who open up shop within the Black community. This is to be commended.

I would say that the best way to measure the overall business practices within the Black community is to observe if those who live outside of the Black community will go there because of the business and services provided there. I must say that I have seen an increase in non-Black consumers within the Black community, but that is because of the corporate presence and not due to the mom and pop stores which I am sure Andrew Young was referring to.

When I lived by the Lakewood Amphitheater, there was a Marathon gas station run by immigrants(Asian). The food provided there was dusty and gross. I had to make them aware of the molded bread on their shelves. They did not appear to appreciate that. I also had to put one of the workers in their place because of the unsavory way he treated me. This was about 2 years ago.

Travel south from Lakewood about two miles, and you will hit Cleveland Avenue. Along with your garden variety of strip clubs, you will notice a few gas stations not far away. One of those gas stations is one of the most pristine I have ever seen. It too is run by immigrants and is also in the Black community.

I think that overall, racist, bigoted, and unsavory business owners are granted access into to Black community in the name of commerce, but it is the responsibility of those residents to speak with their wallets. No matter who comes to your neighborhood, you don't have to patronize crappy businesses.

As far as the fainting and gasping at Andrew Youngs statements. Let's just end it all by strapping all of those business owners to lied detectors and plain ask them about the conditions of their stores and the treatment of their patrons.


1 comment:

  1. Note that by "outsiders" I mean those who do not live within the communities their businesses are in.


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