Can Tulsa North Afford To Not Be Business-Friendly?
Protest over another new dollar store because it doesn’t provide nutritious meals might be a recipe for chasing away business to an area starving for jobs. It’s a not so simple math. Dollar stores are not the problem; they are a symptom of the core reason that everyone is ignoring by spending energy on protesting. They are not completely wrong, however, working on all the reasons why would seem to make more sense.
The stated and noble reason for protesting is that dollar stores do not provide nutritious foods for an area suffering from poor diets. Tulsa north is a food dessert. That is a problem regarding obesity, diabetes and other serious health concerns. Dollar General, Family Dollar or other dollar stores did not invent obesity and diabetes. But, for reasons not connected to their existence diabetes and obesity is harming too many families in Tulsa north. The reason for the lack of super markets stocked full of fresh fruit and vegetables is deep and wide. It will take so many changes, it’s a challenge that needs to be met with careful planning.
Real reasons for no super markets are high unemployment, lack of transportation, high cost of health insurance, high crime, disparity in prosecution, unequal sentencing guidelines, poorly funded schools and racism of every type. Reversing all of that is a tall order, there are some improvements in education attainment and access to health insurance. However, high teen pregnancy and high instances of dropouts place families at an early disadvantage. President Trump heralds the lowest unemployment rates in years. However, the rate is still nothing to brag about. The rate of black unemployment is double that of the white population. Hardly a stunning achievement and it only reveals how deep in the hole the community is and how far it has to go. But the community needs to avoid hysteria and other efforts that only hurt those in no position to hurt worse.
Right now, there is no mad rush to open retail businesses in Tulsa north. No new jobs, and crumbling streets are the order of the day. And that has a lot more to do with the food dessert than someone willing to make a huge investment in the neighborhood. On the other side of looking at the problem is to see the long-term value of more jobs and commerce in places in dire need of both.
It would be better to be seen as pro-business and welcoming to economic development efforts. We suggest the community determine for itself to address the long term core reasons for why there are no super market and not commit self-harm.
Environmental Racism Could Be The Next Killer
One doesn’t have to look far to see how governmental resources are applied unequally through many aspects of society. There are still so many problems in many socioeconomic areas that it occupies the energy of leaders and activists. It sounds like they should be looking at the environment as a deadly problem that is largely ignored.
President Donald Trump likes to talk about the historic unemployment rates present under his presidency. Trouble is, for African Americans it’s still double that of White Americans. Since that is so obvious and harmful it is impossible to not see it as a major problem. Other problems from racism in education, housing and healthcare are areas that take up so much energy of local leaders.
Are there improvements in African American neighborhoods? Of course there are. Back in 1968 Black home ownership was 41.1 percent, today it is 41.2 percent. Unemployment in 1968 was at 6.7 percent and now it has jumped to 7.5 percent. Perhaps more telling is that the incarceration rate in 1968 for African Americans was 604 out of 100,000. Today that percentage has skyrocketed to 1730 for every 100,000. That figure is not only shocking, it is devastating to any group. Stands to reason it occupies the energy of those in a position to do something about it.
What if the environment was a dangerous problem that is not being addressed?
Studies show that African Americans are exposed to higher degrees of toxins and smog than white Americans. The placement of deadly pollutants near Black neighborhoods is as old as slavery. Accordingly, multinational corporations and American companies purposely place dump sites and other forms of pollution near communities of color. This goes for Hispanic and Native American communities as well.
One only has to look at Flint, Mich. and the water crisis that primarily hurts African Americans to see the recent harm committed by corporations whose only concern seems to be a healthy bottom line. That is nothing less than pure evil. In other places there are landfills and dumpsites which in concert with the EPA went ahead and approved of the placement.
Disasters are also good barometers for racist moves that harm the environment and place African Americans in harm’s way. Activists look at the Katrina hurricane clean up and lack of cleanup as an example of environmental racism. Work is slow and underfunded. It is also kind to corporations. The deadly hurricane that hit Puerto Rico came right after the hurricane that hit the Texas coast. The attention to those two disasters could not been more different. Texas was treated with swift kindness and concern from Trump and disaster relief. Over 50 percent of Puerto Rico is still without electricity. The pain and anguish of the people of color in Puerto Rico is so bad, mainstream media no longer covers it.
Locally, toxic materials are near or in Tulsa north neighborhoods. In recent weeks the potential for disaster was pointed out by local residents. As of today there are no protesters outside of the corporate offices or calls for them to move out. Perhaps when more is learned about the problem here there should be a call for the kind of change needed so that local children are not breathing poisonous air and drinking unsafe water. Remember the EPA, the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and other laws are there to protect Americans from deadly pollution, and that includes Tulsa north.