Even though the Black community in West Philly has expanded into areas that I used to avoid going into because of threats and attacks from White boys - the overriding theme of the observations from my recent visit is the continued economic stagnation among many Black people - this despite the rise of "favorable people" into the political ranks.
Several weeks ago when I listened to a sociologist from the University of Pennsylvania report that immigrants would be the force of redevelopment of the city I was angered at her lack of confidence in "native Blacks". With my own eyes I have come to understand that the Black people in Philadelphia are largely consumers. The read out provided by this sociologist are tragically correct.
The more accurate tail is that the immigrant retailer has a proven track record of going into communities like North/Southwest and West Philly and establishing grocery stores, delis, Chinese food joints and alcoholic beverage retailers (malted drinks).
I challenge anyone with proximity to Philly to take a drive down Lansdowne Avenue in West Philly at 10pm. With all of the other stores closed - the Chinese food joints will have their woks cooking food and a crowd of Black people buying the food and the alcohol that is often purchased with it.
I am not critical of the Chinese, Korean, Indian or Dominican retailers. They saw an opportunity and they invested their time and money into bringing it into fruition. In their actions they are proving that small businesses are the key to job growth in this economy.
The Economy Of West/SW Philly
Thanks to the illuminating brilliance of my friend Chauncey DeVega I would like to submit this video of economist Dr Walter Williams as I frame what I saw in my home town. Dr Williams is also from Philadelphia.
As I sat at the table with my Father on Thursday, listening to him tell me about his engagement with young Black males around the community I came to the same conclusion that Dr Williams is expressing here.
My father - a devout Christian - engages with young males who are out of high school and are in need of direction. Most of them have a young child that they need to feed and they are desperate to find employment as a means of living up to their responsibilities.
His theory is that these young Black males should first consider their spirit - beginning to live for the glory of God. Then they should focus upon developing the necessary skills that will attract the needed money and stability their way. Unfortunately most of them are up-ended and are coming at him at a point of desperation. Having exited high school where certain attributes of popularity got them the girl who they later got pregnant - they never developed the skills to allow them to prosper for their family. Also their spiritual relationship and associated consciousness was often not cultivated in their family setting - the preponderance of them coming from single parent households.
Honestly the health supplements, alternative electricity providers, alternative telephone providers and water purification distribution opportunities that my father seeks to teach them about are out of alignment with their present, desperate need for money. Most of them fall by the wayside. He indicated that most of of the young men who he witnesses to in his Christian outreach later call him desperately asking him for a job.
The facts are incontrovertible - these young Black males need jobs. The WAGE RATE of these jobs need to be commensurate to the VALUE of the product of their work before an investor will commit their resources into an enterprise where there is a need for employment.
Ironically the bevy of corner stores and the street corner vendors that lined Market Street at 52nd Street and at 60th Street had NO confinement to Minimum Wage/Living Wage laws. They eat as a function of the commerce that is transacted on the curb.
In my view the demand for the Minimum Wage in these communities is like a "virtual strike". After holding out for so long the "consumers of labor" have moved along. In their place - supplying the CONSUMER NEEDS of the people are the immigrant retailers that I have spoken of.
Those who demand higher wages have the badge of MORAL INDIGNATION on their side. As the narrative goes - they also won't get hit by the burden which is now upon the backs of the young men and women that I spoke of earlier. Instead it is the greedy "consumers of labor" who have moved away - unable to EXPLOIT this Black labor due to the unflinching guardians of "Social Justice".
They appear to know how to see "Social Justice Violations" when the players in their profile execute their violations. They are unwilling to recognize that their entire platform is a violation as such.
The immigrant retailers - unbound by the overhead of concepts from a past that is long gone - are able to move into the NEIGHBORHOODS of Philadelphia and provide the market exchange of goods & services in line with the penned up demands.
(Note: I must also add that there were also Black Americans who were devout Muslims operating their own shops along Market Street. The women working in the store were in full cover but they were Black Americans. They were not "Nation Of Islam" Muslims as none of them carried the "Final Call" - my motivation for entering into the shops.
With this notation I am forced to conclude that it is NOT the immigrant status of the retailer that is critical. It is the CULTURAL attachment upon which they are operating that appears to be the difference.)
|Here is the vendor that sold me the belt and t-shirt. They ain't from West Philly but are from|
halfway around the world.
Their inventory is all in the plastic containers - all right in front of the brick and mortar stores
that they compete with.