Sep 20, 2012

Racism Is Bad for Business

Update: Paid a lunch-hour visit to the Chinese take-out joint (superb) at Meadowood. Numerous black men about, none of whom attacked me on sight. In the some 11 years I've lived in this area, I've made in the 100s of drop-ins to Meadowood and I'm batting a 1,000 in crime-free visits. Reading the description of the prospective Ace customers fearing for their safety, I'm guess I'm pushing my luck.
Three young black men joked and laughed outside Meadowood Barber Style Shop on Raymond Road and Whitney Way in Madison, Wisconsin early this morning.

Somebody call the police!

Better yet, don't call the police. More on that later.

These three young black men are doing nothing but being black and being young. Not a crime in this part of the country, and nothing to fear.

News that the Meadowood Ace Hardware on Madison's southwest side is closing (Adams. Wisconsin State Journal) has a lot of people talking in the Madison and Fitchburg neighborhoods around here.

The Ace owners on Raymond Road in a small shopping mall about 20 yards from the Meadowood Barber, point to declining sales, attributed to crime and a "troubled" neighborhood, the WSJ piece reports.

The evidence cited in the piece:
  • A 2007 homicide in the neighborhood
  • Gunfire from a passing car this last August
  • More gunfire in an area northwest of the shopping center also this last August
Ace Hardware's owners are known as candid people.

No doubt their sales are down as they reluctantly close their doors here; but perhaps the worst drought in this area's recorded history and the economy might account for some of the drop in sales at the hardware store.

But another contributing factor is racism, fear of black people in the neighborhood driving away people who are not regular customers.

In fact, chatting with a local business neighbor of Ace's, word is that the regular Ace customers with Ace Hardware reward cards who live in the area are not dropping away as customers. Rather it is drive-by customers and other customers from out of the area who are not coming by as often.

This data is tracked by Ace reportedly, says a neighboring business man.

There's some black dudes; run away.

I pick up things at the Walgreen's in the shopping center, and regularly use the Meadowood Library and the barber as well. And I have never seen any crime, other than young black men being black.

As for these three black men in the lede. One of men is meeting with a U.S. military recruiter today and wanted to look sharp so he had a hair-cut at the barber's; and his two buddies were joking with the guy for wearing such short hair. Real threats to society, these guys.

Racism remains a pernicious pathology and social injustice. Racism is also plain ignorance and stupidity.

And it's bad for business. Ask the folks at the Meadowood Shopping Center.


  1. If you recall the hysteria generated by Sykes and Belling over the so-called crime (read black) problem Northrigde Shopping Center, if I were them I would have sued these numskulls into the Stone Age.

    1. Yep.

      It's too large a social scientific project to launch, but it's likely that the constant appeals to racism by the Romney campaign (and the GOP at large) add to this climate of fear.
      See for example:

      These three young men this morning, one was ahead of me getting a hair cut, and his buddies would pop in and joke around as the kid's hair fell to the floor.

      I was reading a Sports Illustrated while waiting, but I would look up occasionally and laugh as I heard the banter among three friends.

      Outside, as the three folks left, I'm betting white people encountered looked away with apprehension.

      See also GOP stratigist Mark Gooden of how the GOP divides us: