Thursday, July 12, 2007

You Can't Be Serious...

      So, just 24 hours before the NAACP proved how thoroughly useless they are with their meaningless photo-op / symbolic burial of the "N-word" in downtown Detroit, news dropped that the city's last major grocery chain was high-tailing it outta there. Think about that. A major U.S. city with no major supermarkets. The juxtaposition of news articles tells you everything you need to know about the disconnect between black leadership in this country and the increasingly grim realities facing so many black communities / cities / individuals. Black folks in Motown no longer even have a decent selection of places to buy healthy, fresh food and the NAACP is more concerned with the bullshit symbolic burial of a word that ain't ever gonna die? For serious???
      Having lived in Detroit as a teenager, I know what those "local" stores that are now left to serve the city are like. I lived on Burlingame, between Linwood and Dexter. At the Burlingame / Dexter corner was a store owned by an Arab family, and the dynamic between them and the community they served unfortunately dove-tailed into stereotype. Produce was rarely fresh and you could smell the meat department the minute you walked in the door. But also, the minute you walked in the door, your eyes fell on the elevated platform / office in the far corner, where the owner or one of his sons stood with a shotgun, looking over you while you shopped. This ain't an anti-Arab screed, by the way. 'Cause while I can't forgive the shitty food items, and while I never got used to having a gun trained on me while I was trying to buy a carton of milk, I also know that the frequent robberies and the high amount of shoplifting used to justify the artillery (the reasons also cited for the major grocery chains abandoning the city) were very real, and unfortunately fed right into the preconceptions of black folk as criminal. The fact that the vast majority of shoppers were law abiding, hard-working, honest folk was lost to the fear and frustration sparked by that fucked up few. I myself have no solutions to offer. But I do know that the ceremonial gesture of burying the word "nigger" ain't going to improve the very real crises afflicting Detroit or the rest of black America.

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