Detroit needs a real replacement for Farmer Jack
OK I admit it, this is really starting to piss me off.
Today I’m listening to this radio program on WDET, the local public radio affililiate, and they’re talking about a very important issue in the city, namely how difficult it is to shop for what you need within the city limits. Now that Farmer Jack has closed up shop there are no chain grocery stores within the city limits. None. And I still haven’t heard any news about whether there are yet any plans for the remaining stores to be bought out by some other company or if they’re just gonna sit there empty.
Now, to me? This shit is serious. There are nearly 900,000 people living here, and anywhere else you go in this country where there are even half as many people living there, you will find sufficient grocery stores – real, full-sized grocery stores, not Mom and Pop operations – to adequately take care of their shopping needs. Detroit deserves no less. We need full-sized stores, and dammit we need them NOW, hear?
So then I hear this brother who I guess is a guest on this show talking as if the fact that we have no chain stores in the city is actually a good thing and that this “opportunity” should push black people toward grocery store alternatives such as home and neighborhood gardening (grow your own vegetables, etc.), neighborhood produce trucks, food coops, and the like. To him, whoever he was, this is the best way to handle the crisis we are currently in because it means we are actively addressing the problem ourselves and not waiting to be “saved” by the chains. Power to the people, self-sufficiency, and all that.
Bullshit, my brother. Bull. Shit.
Listen, I have no problem whatsoever with food coops, with home gardening, or even with Mom and Pop grocery stores. And, for the record, I love Metro Foodland, which is black-owned, very well-run and well-stocked. All of that is cool, and I have definitely done my share of shopping at smaller and alternative marketplaces, but it is also because I have shopped at these locations that I know there is no way they can possibly replace a major chain food store. Period. To get all the stuff I need with any level of convenience at all, what any major-sized urban community needs is a major-sized store. I’m sorry, but I’m just callin’ it the way it is. And no, I don’t think it’s a sin at this stage in my life to want some convenience to go along with my shopping. I honestly don’t think that’s too much to ask.
Gosh. I’m sorry. Does that sound middle-class? So SHOOT MY ASS THEN. I plead guilty. Whatever. Just give me my damned store.
As for the suggestion that we all get back to the earth and learn to grow our own, I’m afraid that is a ridiculous approach with an absolute ZERO chance of success when it comes to meeting the needs of the masses. And by the way, what are we supposed to do for things like meat? Last timeI checked it wasn’t legal to keep cattle in your backyard, and you damned sure can’t slaughter chickens on your front porch. And don’t even come at me with the vegetarian thing ‘ cause I am not among them and doubt I ever will be. Or is this considered a sacrifice that we lemmings should be happy and willing to make for the sake of ‘independence’?
Look, to quote an old R&B song, sometimes I “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.” Yeah. I said it. Because we need more stores in this city. Large stores. Chain stores. Stock full with lots and lots of stuff that regular people like me like to buy at one time under one roof. Conveniently. We need these stores to meet the needs of the people who are here, and we need them for the folks we are trying to convince to move here and stay longer than a season before they get tired of driving to the next county in search of REAL STORES.
I know times are tough in my beloved city. Honest. I live here, so how could I not know this? But this insane attitude voiced by some that it is better to live like a small war-torn nation so long as we’re not getting any help from anyone, than to live like normal folks with normal amenities, has got to be burned at the stake. Hell, give me the gasoline and I’ll light the fire myself.
Sometimes it’s actually OK to admit that you need help and that you can’t do it all yourself. Because we can’t. And in Detroit, where we are struggling so desperately just to tread water, we look like idiots trying to talk all tough and act like we got it all covered. We don’t. We’re in fucking trouble, and we will never be able to pull ourselves out of this alone.
Recognizing the fact that you need help and that you need others to help you get what you need isn’t begging. It’s called common sense, and it’s usually what you obtain once you grow up.