Why Is Whole Foods Moving Into A Poor Chicago Neighborhood?

The Washington Post reports:

CHICAGO—The center of Englewood has been vacant for so long that many people in the neighborhood can’t quite recall when it became that way. Thirty years ago? Forty? It was after blockbusting began on the South Side, after white flight was well underway, after the big Sears Roebuck, with the Hillman’s Pure Foods in the basement, closed in the 1970s.

Sometime around then, the small businesses at 63rd and Halsted closed, too, and the buildings that housed them were razed. And so one of the busiest shopping corridors in Chicago was reduced to a desolate stretch of city: 13 acres of crabgrass and concrete with aging streetlights…

At the time, in the 1930s, Englewood was 99 percent white. Today, it is 99 percent black. Once, 160,000 people lived here; now, 60,000 do. A third of the households live below the poverty line, and a quarter of adults are unemployed. Crime rates are among the highest in the city…

After the groundbreaking over the summer, the Chicago Tribune called the Whole Foods a “socioeconomic experiment,” a phrase that made Mayor Rahm Emanuel and another local alderman, JoAnn Thompson, bristle.

“This is not an experiment. African American people are not an experiment,” Thompson says. “People need to stop thinking like that, that we cannot afford the things that people in other communities have.”

I wonder what is going on here. Perhaps this could be the harbinger of a new age for black Americans? Why shouldn’t they enjoy the good things of life, just like white folks?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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