Why we need Walmart in New York: A Brooklyn pastor explains why he welcomes the low prices and jobs
BY The Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood
The global discount retailer is in talks with the city and the community of East New York to locate its first outlet in the five boroughs there.
However, some critics have contended that Walmart is not welcome here, holding rallies to that effect. As a community leader in Brooklyn, I believe that the effort to keep Walmart out of New York is deeply unproductive, and I hope for the benefit of my neighbors and friends that it does not succeed.
In these challenging economic times, New Yorkers want the opportunity to put food on their tables, clothes on their children’s backs and to provide the basics that all of us need. It’s clear that Walmart can be an additional economic tool by providing thousands of jobs both in construction and through retail positions in the stores it seeks to open. With unemployment for African-Americans, especially males, soaring, this is not a factor we can afford to ignore.
It is also my belief that Walmart represents opportunities for millions of dollars in contracting for local minority and women-owned business enterprises, not to mention millions in additional tax revenue flowing into the coffers of New York. Target stores, which are in many ways similar to Walmart, have been a boon to Brooklynites.
However, mention Walmart, and be prepared to be met with protestations about its coming to New York.
But the forces opposing Walmart’s presence in the city have no ideas of their own about how to reverse our dire economic situation: All they do is talk about Walmart’s supposed evils, simply failing to see the good it can bring to a community like mine.
I am not at all saying that Walmart is a savior, but it is unequivocally a step in the direction of recovery – a step we cannot fail to take. To keep a business that promises jobs, low prices and contracting opportunities out of an economically depressed area simply makes no sense – not now, or ever.
Walmart is in a position to give us a boost at a time when jobs are scarce and prices seem to keep rising and rising. Our families and our communities need someone – anyone, at this point – to make a difference. I believe that Walmart can make that difference at this time.
Certainly, the jobs it has the capacity to create will be crucial in these tough times: Consider the construction worker who has been out of work for months or the young person on his first employment opportunity, which gives him the pride to pull up his pants, get to his job on time, work hard and, in so doing, receive a reward while developing a strong work ethic.
The enemies of Walmart, who have gathered an impressive array of arguments on their behalf, seem to forget the simple reality of how such ordinary people would be helped by its presence.
And don’t forget about cheaper prescription drugs for our seniors and fresh produce for our families. These are two more benefits; I am sure there will be others, too.
And as the leader of a large congregation, I intend to hold Walmart to its promises – though I am confident that if it does come to Brooklyn, it will work hard on its own to fullfil them.
Where’s the Outrage?
Dear Pastors … Rabbis … Imams … All Spiritual leaders! Wake up!
The City is in the process of devastating the economic security of our families, especially low income and immigrant families already struggling to keep their heads above water. Very few are saying anything about it! Aside from the occasional newspaper article and a rally or two, with Council Member Letitia James and just a few others leading the way, only the parents who have already received their letters from the Agency for Children’s Services terminating their day care services seem to care. Where are the leaders of our churches synagogues/temples in this time of crisis?
The Administration for Children’s Services is in the process of cutting 16,400 child care slots, some in July and the remainder in September. Their “plan” for the care of our wonderful treasures, our children, is to hand parents vouchers to give to anybody anywhere (if the parent can locate somebody willing to provide child care) … back to the old babysitting system. Only 10% of the buildings will be inspected; for the rest, anything goes (not to mention the lack of socialization opportunities, access to early intervention and other health professionals and oversight of nutrition and child abuse/neglect issues, etc.).
What is the bottom line? Families will have to take an extra $125 or more per week out of their household budgets to pay for child care (if they are lucky enough to find spots in an established child care center). Ask yourself, my dear shepherd, if you don’t think that is going to impact upon the collection plate?
This is my respectful challenge to you … get involved before it’s too late!
And as you inform yourself on the issue, please keep in mind that this is only the beginning; the cuts will not stop here.
As a first step, please consider attending the Wednesday, May 11th rally at 10:00 A.M. at City Hall (sponsored by Day Care Employees Local 205, District Council 1707 and NYAS AFSCME, AFL-CIO). The Council will be in session and all 51 Council Members are expected to be in attendance. This is your chance to make them aware of your outrage toward these devastating cuts and the impact upon the families in your care!
Mrs. R. B. Maye is the Executive Assistant for a day care operation with seven Centers and participates in the activities of several organizations encouraging religious leaders to work together for affirmative political and social action. email@example.com