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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?
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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?---Blake Manner

Another question is why did he go back to the Chinese in the first place? Why didn't he approach a Black business owner with the proposal?---EbonyRose

Andrew Young has had trouble 'gettin' it right' when he has had to 'carry someone else's water'.

I hope I would do better, but I am not at all confident of that.

Both questions are on point.

The answer appllies to both questions.

The people 'of the community' who had the where-with-all, and they existed then and now, were/are not willing to put their assets at risk.

And...what he is trying to say, he usually gets it wrong.

The English?

I think it was, more likely, the Dutch.


Jim Chester
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?---Blake Manner

These aren't my comments, they're a part of the article itself. I should have put the entire article in quotes like I normally do. Sorry about the confusion.
I wouldn't doubt there are some Korean stores that screw over Black people, but I think this notion amongst some of the Black community that Korean stores in general are like that is just downright racist and ignorant. There are a bunch of Black stores that screw over Black customers as well. We should complain about those stores as well. I hear talk about "support Black businesses", but why support a Black business if it is just as corrupt as a White business or Asian business? Out of some vague notion of racial solidarity?

I think this is misdirected anger. Some people in the working class urban Black community are upset because their living conditions are so poor, they aren't able to open up businesses of their own and they see other people being able to and it makes them mad. But their anger should be directed at what's causing the problem (the White government) instead of at their neighbors. It's the laws of the land that make it hard for Black businesses to thrive or even get off the ground in the first place. I hope we don't fall for the same okey-doke that working class rural White Republicans fall for. They seem to be awfully gullible and bad about beating their non-White neighbors upside the head over problems that are caused by their Republican politicians that they keep voting for (like falling wages and immigration).

But I wouldn't doubt that the government treats people unequally on purpose just to cause disharmony and strife amongst Minorities. The White Establishment is notorious for acting in subtle ways to destroy solidarity amongst working class people, especially working class Minorities who might otherwise be quite unified.
Haven't read the entire thread, but do folks disagree with the generalizations that Young made? Did Young tell the truth?---MBM

It is true often enough to be called a reasonable statement.

It was more typically true for the first 45 years of my life in the communities in which I lived...becoming less true with time.

One could negotiate for better product...sort of private stock.

It is also not true often enough to not be considered characteristic.

In trying to be true to himself in face of questioning by others like him, he committed the the intolerable.

He told the truth about in a place where 'everyone' could hear it.

We, Americans of unknowns African ancestry, have always been forbidden to 'tell'.

The oppressed has always been sanctioned for 'telling'.

Wal-Mart does not want to be connected with anyone who is the object of ridicule.

That's not good business.
Koreans Sue Andrew Young Over 'Rip-Off' Comments

Date: Wednesday, August 30, 2006
By: Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Korean grocers' group is suing civil rights veteran Andrew Young for libel for claiming that they and other market owners "ripped off" blacks.

The suit, filed last week in Los Angeles County Superior Court, also names the Wal-Mart store chain. It seeks at least $7.5 million in damages.

Young, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Atlanta mayor, resigned as head of a Wal-Mart advocacy group on Aug. 18 amid controversy over the comments he made to the weekly, black-owned Los Angeles Sentinel.

In an interview, Young said Wal-Mart competition had forced smaller, "mom-and-pop" stores out of his neighborhood.

"But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us, selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables," Young said. "And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores."

Young, once a close associate of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., later apologized.

The libel suit was filed by the California Korean American Grocery Retailer Association.

"Most members are very upset," said Gene Park, the association's secretary and owner of a liquor store in Los Angeles. "There is no evidence that members sold those kinds of spoiled items."

A spokesman for Young did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Wal-Mart spokesman John Simley said the company couldn't comment until after it studies the complaint.

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