I am very, very dissappointed with Andrew Young, though I admit I haven't much followed his career since his Atlanta mayoral days. Somehow I missed his thumb's-up of overseas Nike factories ten years ago, and didn't know he was, until very recently, a spokesperson for Wal-Mart. ("Different Focus in Atlanta on Youngâ€™s Remark" by Shaila Dewan and Michael Barbaro. New York Times. August 19, 2006)
You remember Wal-Mart, the People's champion for justice and not the anti-labor commercial empire that sells cheap goods at the cost of American small business and manufacture. (And, no, before you ask I don't think Target's much better.) Young got the heave-ho for his own kind of race-baiting. What was the quote? About whether new Wal-Marts would shutter mom-and-pop stores:
Well, I think they should; they ran the 'mom and pop' stores out of my neighborhood, ... But you see, those are the people who have been overcharging us selling us stale bread and bad meat and wilted vegetables. And they sold out and moved to Florida. I think they've ripped off our communities enough. First it was Jews, then it was Koreans and now it's Arabs; very few black people own these stores. (Los Angeles Sentinel)
So what about black small business owners? Where are they, if not serving predominantly black urban core neighborhoods. Finally a chance to refer my readers to one of most favorite non-religious blogs: Richard Layman's DC-based Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space where he points out Young's sociological misunderstanding and reviews the invasion-succession theory of neighborhood change. ("Andy Young, Mel Gibson, maybe it's something about Los Angeles...") We've had similar finger-pointing here in DC, and as a recent white, gay resident I've been on the working end of someone's manicure before. (So where are the black-owned businesses? The suburbs.)
Coming up a white, post-segegation Southerner, Young was one of the faces I associated with a proud Georgia and the future. [Sentence altered for clarity.] Fewer people know that the Rev. Andrew Young is also a United Church of Christ minister, and one of the moral assets the denomination had that drew me towards it. Laboring for big corporate interests counter to the healthy redevelopment of urban cores and topping it with long-tended racial rhubarb dilutes his moral authority. (I'm glad the the most active United Church of Christ blogger has addressed this.) Young is now 74: old enough to know better and old enough to be thinking about his legacy. He should try to fix it now.