The Economics of Our Community


Dr. John E. Warren

There is always an ongoing discussion and call for economic development in the African American communities. When large corporate entities like Walgreen’s come along, there are assurances of job creation, just as Wal Mart did when it was focusing efforts on a smaller grocery outlet in the Market Creek area of the southeastern community. That plan has not materialized and in its place Wal Mart has places such a store in the Logan community area off Imperial Avenue. But what is so often missed is the number of businesses presently located in the areas of concern and yet many, if not most of those businesses do not employ African Americans from the neighborhoods in which they are located. But the African Americans along with other members of those communities continue to support those stores. Companies like Coca Cola which recently closed its local plant and eliminated 900 jobs, still enjoy high sales volume, no consequences. Pepsi, Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Cricket, T, Mobile, some of which a few young African Americans in their store fronts, enjoy our dollars, but yet do not market to our communities through our local newspapers which carry your stories and concerns. The grocery chains, Food for Less, Ralph’s, Von’s, Albertson’s, Fresh and Easy, the Grocery Outlets which have recently come to San Diego, do not advertise with our communities newspapers, yet they spent millions of dollars weekly with inserts you find in other publications.

Most of these corporate entities will give donations to “nonprofits” just as Target boasts of its millions of dollars given away yearly, but will not do business without local businesses or insist that every penny that comes to one of our organizations be in the form of a donation to a non-profit which assures them of a write off, not an investment.

Community newspapers such as the Voice & Viewpoint and the San Diego Monitor News represent the real expression of what businesses think of our dollars as consumers. Their absence means either they don’t need our dollars or they don’t care what we think. When we learn to harness our dollars, we will harness respect. We can only do this by realizing that what happens to one of us happens to all of us.

The increase, especially on college and university campuses of hate and racial mockery are indicators of a move in this country for some to return us to pre-civil rights status. WE must now let that happen. WE must start with our wallets and our hearts and remember that when we help one of us, we help all of us.

A lesson can be drawn from what happened when the Gay community some months ago called for a one day boycott of Chick A Fillet, a Christian fast food outlet. The national response and especially here in San Diego was such that the chain ran out of food as people waited in line for hours to buy food in support of the Chain against the boycott.

San Diego’s African and African American communities must look closer at support for each other in a larger community where too often we are seen as not important. We welcome debate and discussion on these issues as a first step in corrective action.

What do you think?

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