Thursday, August 24, 2006

Andrew Young- Hate Criminal or Victim

Last week we saw the “pressured” resignation of Andrew Young from his post as chief promotion man for the Wal-Mart Corporation. The reason for his resignation was a case of “hoof in mouth” disease when in an interview for a Los Angeles paper he stated the following:

"Well, I think they should... 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."

In context Young was responding to criticism that he supports Wal-Mart because they are evil. The alleged evil, among others, is that they (Wal-Mart), have put many so-called “mom & pop” stores out of business. In other words, how could Andrew Young support a corporation that is guilty of this? To further put this into context we must remember that Young was being interviewed in a Black newspaper (The Los Angeles Sentinel) and directing his remarks at black readers and black detractors. Young's reaction was to say, why are you concerned about this now? His point, in this context, is, why are you, (Black America) siding against Wal-Mart on the grounds that they have put mom & pop stores out of business. Many, if not most, of these stores were operated by Jews, then Koreans, and now Arabs and have made their communities wealthy. Who was crying foul, where was the evil, when these ethnic groups entered our communities and put our own (Black owned) “mom & pop” stores out of business? Where was your outrage then? Can I hear you?

Having said this let me say a few things before I go on. I think that Andrew Young failed to use the brilliant mind he has in this instance. He should have known better. I believe that he felt that he was among a friendly audience and free to speak from the heart, free from political correctness and the thought police. In today's politically correct society, however, one must always be aware of the affect their words may have when magnified by a hostile liberal press. He, however, learned that when you align yourself with the perceived devil, there is no safety from liberal attack. No one is free from that. Young should have couched his words in code, such as, “certain other people groups have entered out community. These people groups have benefited from the Black economy to our detriment. Why are we now upset that these people groups have been harmed, when we should have been upset when they harmed us?” But he didn’t.

Let me also say that I do not hold any malice toward or find fault with Jewish, Asian or Arab entrepreneurs and their success. They have done nothing wrong. They have understood the American free enterprise system and the core of Adam Smith's, The Wealth of Nations far better than we have. I commend them for their understanding the laws of economy. We can soon add Hispanics to that list as well. These people groups have managed to capture the America Dream as we as Black America seem to have failed to.

There is much I could say about this entire story and issue, but rather than focus on the negative aspects, and there are many, I want to direct us in a positive direction. To do this we need to take a trip back in time about 111 years.

Interestingly enough, yet tragically, Booker T. Washington understood this and had a prophetic vision of what would occur if we did not take certain steps, including forming the National Negro Business League, at the beginning of the last century. He left us a promise and warning to both white and black.

To those of the white race who look to the incoming of those of foreign birth and strange tongue and habits for the prosperity of the South, were I permitted I would repeat what I say to my own race, “Cast down your bucket where you are.” Cast it down among the eight millions of Negroes whose habits you know, whose fidelity and love you have tested in days when to have proved treacherous meant the ruin of your firesides. Cast down your bucket among these people who have, without strikes and labour wars, tilled your fields, cleared your forests, builded your railroads and cities, and brought forth treasures from the bowels of the earth, and helped make possible this magnificent representation of the progress of the South. Casting down your bucket among my people, helping and encouraging them as you are doing on these grounds, and to education of head, hand, and heart, you will find that they will buy your surplus land, make blossom the waste places in your fields, and run your factories.

To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a foreign land or who underestimate the importance of cultivating friendly relations with the Southern white man, who is their next-door neighbor, I would say: “Cast down your bucket where you are”— cast it down in making friends in every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.
Cast it down in agriculture, mechanics, in commerce, in domestic service, and in the professions. And in this connection it is well to bear in mind that whatever other sins the South may be called to bear, when it comes to business, pure and simple, it is in the South that the Negro is given a man’s chance in the commercial world, and in nothing is this Exposition more eloquent than in emphasizing this chance. Our greatest danger is that in the great leap from slavery to freedom we may overlook the fact that the masses of us are to live by the productions of our hands, and fail to keep in mind that we shall prosper in proportion as we learn to dignify and glorify common labour, and put brains and skill into the common occupations of life; shall prosper in proportion as we learn to draw the line between the superficial and the substantial, the ornamental gewgaws of life and the useful. No race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.

Booker T. Washington- Atlanta Exposition Speech 1895

I have reversed the order of these paragraphs for affect, and although Dr. Washington was directing this particular speech to the residents of the South, his admonition was to the entire nation. Later he would reiterate his warning when he said:

--Economic independence is the foundation of political independence...we must act in these matters before others from foreign lands rob us of our birthright...Land ownership is the foundation of all wealth.--

--No matter how small how small the piece of land you occupy you have got to get the most out of the soil; or somebody else will crowd you out. The same is true in regard to labor, commercial business and education. If we do not develop the talents in these respects to the very highest degree, somebody, some other nation will crowd in upon us and we shall not be able to hold our own.—

While he foresaw the entrance of immigrants into this nation and the challenge it would present, Booker T. Washington did not fear that challenge, rather he welcomed it. Here is the key:

--A few thousand strong, sturdy, thrifty foreigners in each county will go far toward quickening our energy and sharpening our wits, by bringing their healthy competition, which is very much needed in many sections of the south. Our salvation is to be found not in our ability to keep another race out of our territory, but in our learning to get as much out of the soil, out of the occupation, or business, as any other race can get out of theirs.--

In summation, I do not think that Andrew Young is a “Hate Criminal.” I would be willing to bet that he, like me, highly respects and marvels at the business savvy of other races. At the same time he is awakening to the fact that our own race is so challenged in that area. He was simply frustrated at the way we have been conditioned to think by people who do not have our own best interests in mind. That frustration led to his speaking from his frustration and not his reason. Andrew Young had half of it right. We should not worry about how competition has affected certain other people groups. Those same people groups certainly did not worry about how competition and moving into our areas would affect us. Young also understands, although this message is lost in all of the anger at Wal-Mart, that Wal-Mart and others like them, actually offers us a new door to success and prosperity. By bringing commerce, jobs, and revenue back into our communities that has left. Yes, they are hundreds or thousands of part time jobs. But they are part time jobs where there were no jobs. Large tax revenues where there were little or no tax revenues. This is and really should not be about Wal-Mart. It is about our communities and a thriving black economy.

I am not a propagandist for Wal-Mart; I do not care if it is Wal-Mart, Target, or any large corporation. My point is that we need to worry about elevating our communities and if a large corporation is willing to build in our communities and bring jobs and revenue there, I am for it. Instead of fighting it, I suggest we seek to maximize the benefit and look for ways to enhance every bit of that revenue potential.

In closing I leave you with one more BTW quote:

--while the world may pity a crying, whining race, it seldom respects it--

For an in depth look at the thought, writings, speeches and articles by and on Booker T. Washington, I recommend the book- The Booker T. Washington Chronicles, from Phoenix Publications. You may order it directly from Phoenix Publications, or receive it from us for any tax deductible donation of $20 or more to the Booker T. Washington Inspirational network. I promise that this book will change your life.

Eddie Huff-Executive Director
Booker T. Washington Inspirational Network


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