Still can't get past the lawyer for the owner of the boycotted Shamrock gas station I wrote about yesterday. Busy. Says he'll call me back later. I called him this morning to say I still need to hear the owner's side.
Here's my problem. Yesterday the lawyer wouldn't or could not get the owner to talk to me, so I wrote based on what I heard from picketers outside this gas station/convenience store at Harwood Street and MLK Boulevard in South Dallas.
Many of the picketers were people I have known for years and respect. They say the owner is a Korean bigot who calls his own African-American customers "broke-ass niggers," according to today's issue of The Final Call, Louis Farrakhan's newspaper, where this makes "national news." If that's true, the owner has, among other things, an unusual fluency in the vernacular.
What worries me is that I have learned since then that this protest is part of a larger mobilization against foreign- or immigrant-owned businesses in southern Dallas.
The Rev. Ronald Wright, one of the organizers, was adamant in stating yesterday that the movement is not anti-Korean but aimed only at racist business-owners. But the movement also has as one of its stated goals opening up business opportunities for southern Dallas residents. I'm sorry, but that's what Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price said he was doing when he was sabotaging the Inland Port development -- the single biggest economic opportunity ever to present itself to southern Dallas.
In Price's mentality there is a core misconception about wealth. People don't get business opportunities from politics. That's not how it works. You get a business by wading in yourself and making it happen against all odds. How much balls does it take for a Korean immigrant who barely speaks English to set up shop in an area where there are gun-toters and crack-heads prowling the alleys? A lot of balls, that's how much.
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That's how somebody creates wealth for himself when he has nothing, is not welcomed by anyone and has no connections in high places. He goes in and digs it out of the bitter earth with his own two hands. To do that, yeah, you have to be very tough. It's a job for John Wayne.
This is not to say that there isn't a racism problem with some of these folks. The worst racism I have ever heard in my life was from an Eastern European immigrant cab driver in Manhattan -- so bad we had to say, "Stop the damn cab and let us out."
We beat ourselves up in this country about racism, but the fact is that we have made a lot more progress than people in many other parts of the world. When they move here, we have to make sure they get up to speed with us rather than dragging us back to where they came from.
There are two sides to this story. The guy who owns the Shamrock needs to get out from behind that lawyer and tell his side. I'm all ears.