One of our writers several months ago discovered that one of the currency exchanges here in Austin apparently wasn’t getting our paper. The writer brought this to our attention. It could have been an issue with our delivery system or maybe the paper is so hot, people snatch it up as soon as it drops on Thursday.
Well, as time went on, every Thursday since, the paper was not at this particular currency exchange. I should say that the paper does seem to be present at other community businesses and currency exchanges in Austin, including an exchange just south of Lake Street on Central.
But not at this particular one, which is located along North Avenue, our writer had observed.
Just this past week, the writer decided to investigate further. They talked with a security guard and found the papers are in fact delivered there every week, but the business’ manager ordered them put in the trash.
“The currency exchange doesn’t want the paper in their business,” the writer was told.
The writer then went to their dumpster, lifted the lid and found two full-bound bundles of Austin Weekly News in the garbage. The writer rescued the bundles.
When I heard about all this in an e-mail, I was pretty pissed. Thus you’re reading the result of that pissed-offness now.
A couple of thoughts, though. One, like it or not, a business in Austin or anywhere has a right to put on display whatever items it chooses-be it something of theirs or from an outside entity. This currency exchange doesn’t have to take the Austin Weekly News or any other paper. We have a distribution list of locations where our papers are delivered every Thursday. Businesses, churches, community organizations, schools, and others are more than happy to have our papers, and those from other publishers. But there are some who may not. In that case, however, courtesy demands that they call our main number and ask to be removed from our list-which we will do, no questions asked.
These newspapers cost money to produce, print and distribute. They belong in the hands of our readers, not with the rats in the alley.
A second thought: Establishments that get our paper can basically do with them what they want once they get them. But the writer brought up a good point in the e-mail. Some of these businesses want money from the community but won’t stock a community newspaper. There’s a level of disrespect toward the black community in that way of thinking. How many of these businesses actually respect and honor the people they serve? Many probably do. But we know there are those who are nothing more than vultures circling from above for all our black dollars. I can’t say if that’s the case with this currency exchange. I should also note that we did not try to contact this business, mainly because of what I said before-they can do whatever they want with our paper. I just don’t understand what harm having a community newspaper in a supposed “community” business would do. Yes, they should have called our circulation folk and asked to be removed from our list, but this isn’t sour grapes on my part. There’s a larger issue here.
During my freshman year in high school, a convenient store near the school was busted by cops for selling guns out the back door to gangs in the community. And remember back in the early ’90s when several Chicago priests and ministers were protesting against a West Side business for selling “bongs” and other pot-smoking devices right on their counters out in the open? I grew up around that store. It’s still in the community but under different management now. Back then, it also sold bad produce and had rats running throughout the store.
Where I live now near Cicero, from the Lake Street el to the Blue Line, there are three liquor stores along Cicero. And have you ever paid attention to how high the prices are in some of the gas stations and stores in our community? A generic-brand, two-liter pop costs $2.50-that’s a dollar plus $1.50 in sales tax? A buck-and-a-half in tax? This is how the black community is treated by some of the businesses in our neighborhoods. And these are just a handful of examples.
Part of what community newspapers stand for is exposing that kind of mess to the community.
If businesses in the community won’t participate in that, it’s the very customers they claim to serve who will be hurt.