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Comments by YACCS
Friday, March 03, 2006

Shop elsewhere

I gots to get my Wal Mart on

This is from the Black Commentator

Still there are those who say they don't have the patience for talk, and want only the answers. In response to BC's February 16, 2006 cover story, "A Movement Against Wal-Mart", reader Delilah Brown says:

We as black people talk a good game but where do we draw the line? Denounce Wal-Mart and shop where? I'm on a fixed income trying to raise children in a name brand world. What do we replace Wal-Mart with? Talking is not going to clothe my children at reasonable prices. Let's cut the talking and do something that helps - give us other alternatives please.

Let's see. Seven sentences. Three questions, one about where to shop. Two personal statements, and two demands, one to stop talking, the other for alternative places to shop. We respectfully suggest that Ms. Brown's priorities are just a little off. If the objectives of our people are limited to less talk, more or different shopping, and figuring out how to raise children in a "brand name world" we should give up any hope of constructing a movement to better ourselves and our condition, now or ever.

Soulless and greedy corporations have constructed the "brand name world" specifically to replace the influence of conscious and aware parents with their marketing imperatives. As bother Michael Dawson explains in his indispensable work The Consumer Trap: Big Business Marketing in American Life, it exists to educate our children to consume their marketing messages and prepare them to engage in lifelong unpaid behaviors which will enrich those corporations while materially and spiritually impoverishing our individual lives, our families and our communities.

Shopping is what consumers do. Talking to each other is what families should do, and talking about building a movement that improves life for all our families is what citizens must do. Despite what we hear in the media, movements are not declared into existence by charismatic leaders who stand up or sit down, or even by influential publications like this one. Progressive movements for social change are founded on the widespread realization by a lot of nameless and ordinary people that the established order is unjust, and on their determination that it will be changed in their lifetimes. Pharoah won't let us go until well after enough of us let him go. That will require prodigious amounts of informed and informing talk.

Delilah didn't tell BC where she lived, and even if she had she knows the local shopping choices better than we. The challenges we face are in fact much deeper than where we can get the lowest price for the kids' school clothes this year, as important as that is. Rather than telling Delilah where to shop BC suggests that she arm and educate herself and her children with facts, starting with who built and who benefits from the "brand name world." A good start would be to ankle on down to the library and borrow or get online and buy Michael Dawson's aforementioned book for about twelve bucks.

If Delilah has internet access - and she did email us - there are plenty of educational resources available. Nothing conveys the essence of the "brand name world" more effectively and seductively than the music videos which are a viewing staple of black youngsters. Too many draw as much of their idea of what it is to be adult and authentically black from these sources as they do from the positive examples of parents and others. For a look inside how the authentic inspirations of our young people are cynically captured, colonized, vulgarized, commodified and spit back at them as "music" Delilah can go online and check out the PBS Frontline documentary, The Merchants of Cool, which includes revealing interviews of MTV and other execs who explain how and why they show what they show. Ms. Brown might want to take her kids back from the "brand name world," before it's too late.
OK, in theory, this is great.

But let's get real.

First and foremost, nearly every dollar you spend at Wal Mart for a brand name item is wasted. Levis makes a seperate, lesser brand for Wal Mart. Now, if you like names, yeah, but if you like quality, no. And in the end, quality beats price.

Wal Mart makes their money on highlighting the cheapest prices, while charging higher prices on most of their items. So the bargain is illusory

Second, is there no Target or Costco in your town? Spend your money elsewhere and get better quality products at similarly low prices.

I've seen a lot of black women mezmerized by Wal Mart's entry prices, not even realizing how shoddy the store looks or the low quality of the goods sold. All they see is the bargain, without realizing that Wal Mart is the least best place to spend a dollar. It almost becomes a habit, since many of the stores never close. But what they don't get is that they are getting the least value in retail for that money they spend. Wal Mart has created several Billionaires in the Walton family.
Sure, the prices are low, but the profits are high. So who do you think pays for that? They cut the prices every way they can, and you're left holding the bag. You get lower quality goods, your taxes subsidize their health care. Nearly 20 percent of Wal Mart's workers get Medicaid. Working people, mostly women with young children, and they have a job without basic health insurance. And your "bargains" helps that process

Why does Wal Mart feature so many black faces in their ads? Because urban America is their last frontier. Without black and latino consumers in large cities, they will not grow any further
. Of course, they don't promote blacks or latinos to run their stores, in fact, when not locking cleaning workers in their stores, they refuse to promote qualified blacks. In fact, those are two of the 40 lawsuits against Wal Mart for various forms of employment discrimnination and violation of employment law.

Not that they respect black executives from other companies. A GAF human resources boss attempted to buy thousands of dollars worth of gift cards for the company. After a two hour wait, without asking for his work ID or supervisor's number, he was arrested.

Sure, a movement would be nice, but the reason to stay out of Wal Mart, besides them picking your pocket with shoddy goods made overseas, also has a habit of disrespecting black employees and consumers.

There are other places to get bargains and no excuse will make shopping at Wal Mart a good way to spend your money.

posted by Steve @ 12:54:00 AM

12:54:00 AM

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