Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Booty Capitalism and Wal-Mart

The New York Post is reporting today that the Reverand Al Sharpton will be part of a gathering that honors Wal-Mart for its support for "causes that are important to the customers and associates in the neighborhoods they serve" (press release from National Action Network). At the same time, however, Sharpton, according to the Post, insists that:

... he still opposes Wal-Mart because of what he calls its anti-labor practices, and vowed to continue to fight to block its expansion into New York
While we're glad to hear that vow from the Rev, we can't help but feel a bit nervous that he will be attending the award ceremony in Beverly Hills next month. It begins to look, and we hope we're wrong, suspiciously like a slippery slope. It would certainly appear that Wal-Mart is looking to target minority communities where, unfortunately, there is never a shortage of booty capitalists who are willing to put their own narrow self interest against the larger good of the community.

This is exactly the strategy that the retailer used in its successful site fight in Chicago. In that battle the aggrandizing forces in the community were pitted against labor and good government types and Wal-Mart prevailed.

In similar fashion we're hearing that Wal-Mart and its advance team, The Marino Organization, is meeting with activists in the African-American commnunity in order to explore a modus vivendi if the company locates a good site in Brooklyn. It will be interesting to see what comes from this potential partnership.