Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Young and the Feckless

Andy Young is at it again. When he was chosen the head up a Wal-Mart front group our biggest concern was the retail giant's potential use of a "booty capitalist" strategy. We weren't even thinking about the anti-Jewish flap that forced Young to resign as Jimmy Carter's ambassador to the United Nations.

Well, perhaps we should have because it now becomes clear that the former aid to MLK harbors a good deal of racial animus towards an entire spectrum of ethnic groups. When questioned about the charge that Wal-Mart puts small neighborhood retailers at risk Young opined, Well I think they should; they ran the mom-and-pop stores out of my neighborhood...And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough."

The "they" in this case are not only the Jews (who moved to Florida) but the Koreans and now the Arabs. He left out the Dominicans who are more of a Northeast phenomenon. This is precisely the prejudiced mind set that animated some of the controversy over the building of a Pathmark store in East Harlem over ten years ago. It is also reminiscent of the Sharpton tirade over Freddy's Music Store on 125th Street ( the incident that ended in tragic deaths).

This attitude is precisely why we are so concerned with a booty capitalist strategy. For a host of historical reasons there is little latent support for neighborhood retailers in the traditional Black community. This is changing with the influx of Caribbean retailers in many areas of NYC. Without this support, however, there is at times more sympathy for the larger corporation coming in and offering goodies.

Any way Young is out and even such pro Wal-Mart folks as the editorialists at the NY Post are glad to see him leave. The dangers of the Wal-Mart offensive in communities of color remains and it is something that the entire anti Wal-Mart coalition is working hard to counteract.