What is America going to be like 20 years from now? With a huge influx of immigrants-both legal and illegal-this country will not be anything like it was 50 years ago. Many pundits are already talking about the “browning” of America, where the white population will be the minority and people of color will be the majority. When the flip finally takes place, where will we as black people end up in the mix?
Just a few days ago, there was a small story in the paper about a school in Oak Lawn that is canceling Halloween and replacing it with a fall festival. They are also replacing the Christmas celebration with a Winter Festival in response to concerns of a Muslim parent. That school is also allowing Muslim children to pray on their lunch during Ramadan.
As each new ethnic community begins to exert its political, economic and group power here in America, where will black America be on that playing field?
A lot of my thoughts on this subject came to mind after watching the Jena 6 rally. It was broadcast over the Internet, so I was able to listen to the rally all day. As I listened to what the speakers had to say and saw the huge number of protesters, the natural question to ask after it was all over is, “What’s next?”
Yes, thousands of protestors descended on Jena, La. to protest the unfair treatment of those six young black children. Today that protest was directed at the white residents of Jena, La. But what of tomorrow when the clash is between black Americans and other ethnic groups? Seeing that we don’t even own the majority of businesses within our own community, what would a protest be like if it involved recently arrived immigrants or their first generation offspring?
Well, I have a feeling the response the black community will get will be: “We don’t care.” As an example, let’s look at the recently closed Grand Mart Food Store at North and Cicero avenues. That store is owned by David Min Sik Kang. He is a Korean immigrant who came to America in 1982. He opened his first store as a small corner store and now 20 year later is the owner of seven stores in Washington D.C. and five in Atlanta, Ga. Those stores bring him almost $5 million a week. He also owns five stores in the Chicago area as well.
Now for those of you who shopped at the Grand Mart Store at North and Cicero, the first thing you noticed was that it wasn’t catering to the black community. When the store was Cub Foods, all the workers and cashiers were predominantly black. When Grand Mart came in, hiring black people was not their priority. In fact, I only counted two when I went in the store. One was a cashier and the other was picking up carts. Since the neighborhood hadn’t changed from one owner to the next, my logical conclusion is that the owner didn’t care about us, about our employment or even about the food products we ate.
As black people, we must understand that for the past 40 years, those who have come to America have come to receive the benefits that black people fought for during the Civil Rights Movement. Those immigrants have come to America and have taken advantage of every Civil Rights, Equal Rights, Minority set-aside, etc. that America has offered. They’ve gone into business and are becoming the success stories of today while our community languishes in limbo. Imagine a community of Mexicans, Muslims or Asians with over 100,000 residents, and they didn’t have a single grocery store owned by a member of their group.
If you can’t imagine it, there’s a reason. They wouldn’t let it happen! But we permit and tolerate a lack of business development in our community as if those from outside are interested in doing it for us.
By the way, the owners of Grand Mart stores haven’t gone away for good. Thanks to a neighbor who left me an article out of another newspaper, the owners of Grand Mart are planning on re-opening under a new name.
The Jena 6 protest proved black people can come together for what’s right. Now let’s take that momentum and use it to build our community. A noose hung from a tree is a horrific symbol. But when our community is being strangled by nooses that represent our total lack of businessness development, then it won’t be long before the symbolic noose turns into an actual one.