I was recently attacked in an email sent by a “friend” because I simply couldn’t bring myself to apply for a grant from Wal-Mart Foundation. Don’t get me wrong, our project could certainly use an infusion of a cool million like that bestowed on Growing Power a year ago. I started the on-line form but I just couldn’t continue. My fingers started to ache and my palms burned. Was it Daniel Webster who made that fateful deal with “he who shall not be named”? I know Faust had a similar deal. The burning sensation in my hands snapped me out of dollar sign eyes.
In less than a week another friend suggested we go you-know-where to get an air conditioner for a friend. My hackles went up and I simply could not restrain myself from practically screeching. At least this friend asked me why I was vociferous in my refusal to shop with Satan. When I finished sending him websites to peruse, he got the point. The same was true of another very intelligent and charming woman who espoused her love of that place until I told her about the young women sewing interminable hours with no breaks in sweat shops so she could spend less for a tee shirt. The look on her face when she came to the realization that this amounted to slavery was worth a million bucks to me.
Believe me; I’ve heard it all about how Wal-Mart creates jobs in communities starving for employment. I also know the dark side, and it ain’t worth the deal. Just this morning one of my very socially conscious colleagues came to me with a look of shock on her face. “Did you see this article on the internet about Wal-Mart signing a deal to build in Bronzeville?” I calmly told her I had known about this for some time and was not happy about it. The look of disbelief only got more, well…disbelieving when I explained that the site in the article (47th Street) is in addition to a proposed site at 39th Street. Her comment, “They just want all our money!” That’s about the size of it. That is corporate progress; own it all; corner the market; drive competition away. Seriously, who can compete with Wal-Mart?
The answer is EVERYBODY! I’m heading to the public library to get a copy of the “Art of War”. Big armies with loads of paraphernalia have been trounced by little bands of guerilla warriors over and over in history. This is war. When MacArthur Genius winners like Will Allen have to espouse support of Wal-Mart, it’s just the harbinger of Wal-Mart swallowing organic growers everywhere and selling us crap crops labeled organic. After all, Wal-Mart execs are in the seats of government to list their sprays, insecticides, pesticides, seeds, etc. safe and saleable to us poor schnooks out here - we uninformed masses who want to save two bucks on a tee shirt even if it was made in a sweat shop. I especially have a hard time with us people of color who choose to spend our hard earned bucks there. Just a scant few years ago we were bending our backs picking cotton under the whip and yearning to be free. Why? So we could support slavery in another part of the world?
What about the woman who is trying to save money to take care of her family? Has she looked at the Wal-Mart track record when it comes to hiring and advancing women? It’s deplorable.
A few hundred Los Angelinos took to the street in protest; Wal-Mart employees meant more people needing public medical care. Wal-Mart doesn’t provide health care and encourages workers to get public assistance. That certainly puts more money in investors’ pockets.
Wal-Mart has pledged to have more minority vendors. They haven’t even come close to reaching a tenth of the stated goal. As to the few that make it on the vendor list, they often get their products shelved in very inconspicuous spaces and only in minority area stores. Which brings me back to the Wal-Mart coming to a neighborhood near you, if you are a vendor maybe your product can make it to a shelf? Frankly I’ve got other ideas. If you have products get together with movements all over this country to compete. Read the “Art of War”. Join the fight! History proves over and over that resistance is not futile!