In Portland, Oregon a small organization called Portland African-American Leadership Forum decided to rally against a proposal from Trader Joe's to build a store in a building that has been empty for decades. This construction would have been done by a minority owned company and would have provided more jobs once the store opened.
But no, we can't have that can we? The organization (whose leadership don't actually live in the neighborhood that is in question) felt the construction project wasn't doing enough to help the "oppressed". They want racially based jobs and small business loans as well as affordable housing. Well, had you put up a new grocery store that gives people more options maybe you would get more foot traffic that creates more jobs.
What is really sad is that is this organization could care less for the people in this neighborhood, which largely wanted the store to open. They wanted an empty lot to be filled with a new business. The neighbors were hoping that would help keep the neighborhood safer and cleaner.
“All of my neighbors were excited to have Trader Joe’s come here and replace a lot that has always been empty,” said Nghi Tran. “It’s good quality for poor men.” Like many residents, Tran pins the blame on PAALF. “They don’t come to the neighborhood cleanups,” he said. “They don’t live here anymore.”
I fully understand arguments about gentrification. It happens to many neighborhoods, especially in larger cities. I have friend who lives in Brooklyn and it is happening in her neighborhood. But the upside to it is that her neighborhood has gotten safer and it has prompted her to purchase their apartment instead of continuing to pay high rents that line someone else's pocket.
This is why poor neighborhoods stay poor, this is why so many people say that the poor blacks are their own worst enemy. Because they do bone-headed things like this. Yes working at Trader Joe's isn't going to make one a millionaire, but it will pay your bills. It will give you benefits. It will give your resume a boost. It could potentially lead to management positions. The good far outweighs the bad in this case scenario.
Basically what this "community organization" ended up doing is costing the people who could have gotten that job more unemployment. The construction company likely lost thousands of dollars in profit, it may even have to lay people off for lack of work. The neighborhood won't get a make over. The people won't have an additional shopping option. Trader Joe's can be quite economical on many items. You can buy bananas for .19 each at the one near my house. The cost didn't change when I moved hundreds of miles away either. So I would assume this is a national price for them. I don't know of another store that has better prices on nuts than Trader Joe's.
You just have to shake your head at these people. What did they accomplish in the end? Nothing. They go back to their own neighborhoods that likely don't have buildings that have been empty for decades, having shopping options, and to heck with the people who actually have to live there.
The neighborhood is 25% black. What about the other 75%? They don't count? This is what happens when you look at everything based on color. Every bad thing that happens to you is because you are "oppressed". The big scary man is out to get you. The evil white man is keeping you down.
One can hope that people of this neighborhood see for themselves that far to many "black activists" are more worried about raising money for themselves, lining their own pockets and could care less about the people who actually live in these neighborhoods. Trader Joe's will be just fine. They will just open their store in a neighborhood that wants them there. The people who live near the abandoned lot, well they have been living with that for decades now. What is another ten years?