Open Mouth and Insert Foot: Andrew Young "Helps" Wal-Mart
After being promptly hauled out of the UN many years ago for his comments about the Brits being the original racists, Andrew Young still managed to con Wal-Mart into hiring him as a consultant. What was his job? To schmooze communities into seeing the benefits of allowing Wal-Mart into their neighborhoods. As most of you know, a lot of small business owners -- often with union support, of course -- try to hold the retail behemoth from coming in and offering lots of merchandise at the cheapest prices because of their incredible buying power. So what brilliant strategy did Young employ to make Wal-Mart "look good"? Slam the small merchants who are simply trying to make the most of the American Way by braving inner city neighborhoods where no one else dares to tread.
From a recent piece from The New York Times as published in the International Herald Tribune:
"Andrew Young, the American civil rights leader who was hired by Wal- Mart Stores to improve its public image, has resigned from that post after telling an African-American newspaper that Jewish, Arab and Korean shop owners had "ripped off" urban communities for years, "selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables."" (Read the rest of the article here.)
Apparently, the immediate backlash forced Mr. Young to "quit" his new job with Wal-Mart. (So who's next in line? Jesse jackson? Ha ha.)
Now some of you have already received comments from me in the past about personal experiences and anecdotes regarding black discrimination towards other races so don't be too surprised to see some of those comments repeated here. However, here's one of my favorite stories.
Many, many years ago, when we were still kids growing up, one of the Chinese families we knew in Halifax decided to sell everything -- restaurant and all their real estate holdings -- and move to LA! It was a pretty bold move, especially at the time. They ended up buying and growing a big, independent grocery store (the size of a Ralph's) which became quite successful and profitable. All this despite being robbed many times (they ended up hiring round-the-clock security guards) and raising prices to cover the high shoplifting losses. The store was in a black neighborhood so they also endured an unbelievable amount of abuse and other nastiness. Well, to make long story short, LA had a long, hot summer and the blacks rioted and burned parts of the city down. The neighborhood their store was located: a little area called Watts. They looted the store first and then they burned it -- to the ground! Of course, they were lucky (and smart) enough to have more than adequate insurance so they collected with little question for the underwriters; it was all on film on the 6:00 o'clock news!
Here's the irony: Weeks later, the black community leaders requested a meeting with them to propose something to them. They wanted them to re-build the store and they would even help them get special SBA funds to assist with reconstruction! Of course, our friends told them they had no interest in going back into the retail business in the hood ever again. The patriarch of the family said to them, "Your kids spit on us. They stole from us. They accused us of cheating them and they called us names. When the shoplifting got to be too much, we had to go to the expense of hiring security guards. All of this doubled our overhead so we had to charge higher prices just to stay in business. And then they started to rob us at gunpoint forcing us to hire ARMED security guards to protect us and our paying customers. They made no pretensions on how much they despised us and they showed it when they burned our store to the ground. Why is it that you want us to re-build our store?"
To which the leader of the black community group replied, "But our Mothers and Grandmothers now have to go 20 blocks to get their groceries! They need your store back!"
They decided to collect the insurance and promptly sold the property not long after that.
So my question to Mr. Young is this: Where were the enterprising black business people who should have opened stores in YOUR neighborhood to serve YOUR own people and make lots of money to move up and away?