Tuesday, May 15. 2012
I've wanted to write this article for quite awhile; now, sadly, it appears the ideas may be less workable. I just read a WND news article about a mob of black youths attacking two white reporters in their car.This may provide the mob some vengeful satisfaction, but can only lead to greater isolation of the African American community.
As for the news article, the page allows for comments at the bottom. By the time I read it, there were close to 400 comments. The overall tone was terrible, talk of shooting back, running people over with the car, sending blacks back to Africa. I commented two or three paragraphs, along the lines of my suspicions about the media portraying conservatives as racist, and emphasising that all blacks are not of a violent mob mentality. There were also comments saying that this is happening in other cities as well.
The above aside, following are my ideas about -part- of what could be done in the African American part of town. I don't recall when I first started thinking about what could be done there, but an event made my thoughts much clearer and urgent. I was called to do some of the same style of window advertising that I had been doing along Magnolia Avenue; only this was for an African American Lady who was moving her hairstyling business to West Knoxville, which is probably the most affluent commercial area in these parts. As I interacted with her, I learned some of what she was dealing with. She works hard, saved money, carefully bought used but nice equipment for her salon. All the styling chairs, hairwashing sinks, and tasteful decor. It was common for her to be working at 9 or 10 pm.
I don't know the details, but there was a lot of resistance from the white neighbors. They were suspicious, made phone calls, watched her, and complained. One instance stands out in my memory: a lady friend of hers was going through a difficult time in her life, and the gal who owns the salon was consoling and conversing with her in the car. The neighbor's reaction? Well, two black people setting in a car for a prolonged time, it must be a drug deal. That was part of what she had to put up with. She finally left, went back to another part of town, where she is now.
My own life hasn't been easy, some of it just my own dumb decisions, so I'm not pleading for sympathy; just giving a little insight into why on some things I can quickly be pragmatic. So it is, I figure whites have had hundreds of years to figure out that all blacks are not the same, and if they haven't got it yet, well, don't hold your breath. I got to thinking that if black business owners can't move into white areas, then what's needed is for white shoppers to go to black owned businesses, wherever they're located.
If whites think that they'll get mobbed, they'll stay far away. It was already bad enough; I'll tell you how it was, white people would be thinking and praying something like this: Oh Lord, if I drive on this road, I can cut 15 miles off my course, but Lord, PLEASE_DON'T_LET my car break down here! How did I think that kind of prayer? I probably have more interaction with African Americans than many white folks, but it was in church, with other Christians. Driving through the minority neighborhood is like:"Man, those guys there are bad lookin' dudes, they look like they're from THE 'HOOD. Of course, once I started working there in the black owned businesses, spending hours on end there, I was a lot more relaxed. I got used to being in a non church setting, they're already accustomed to the occasional white person being around.
As for my ideas, they're not complicated, maybe that's an advantage. In marketing, you pitch the benefits of the product, not the product itself. Tires are family safety, air conditioning is home comfort and health. So what pitch can be made for a place like Magnolia Avenue? For starters, diversity. There are other ethnic groups and businesses there. In order to make i visual splash with the area's diversity, one could make large exterior wall paintings with strong and distinct ethnic flair. I did an online image search for African, Mideastern, and Asian fabric patterns and pottery patterns. So the wall would be painted sort of like a mural, but simpler, fitting well withing the theme of ethnic and cultural atmosphere. I don't envision murals with political messages, just very esthetically pleasing huge wall paintings decorating that part of town.
It might even be possible to created a few jobs with the project. A few of the paintings would have to be done for free or very low cost. But maybe one could do it in this way: First, you find out from a neighbor or through casual conversation what country the owner of a convenience store, or his parents are from. You make a color sketch of his store with the pattern painted large on a prominent wall. You approach the owner of the store with this pitch: "Say Nassir, we'd like to paint this on your store." He's probably going to recognize the artwork right off, but if he doesn't want to spend much or any money, offer this deal:"Well, we'd really like to see this happen around here, so here's our proposition: You let us see your sales tax returns for the previous and the following years; and we'll do it for___ (or free).
You go ahead with the project, but the goal is to be able to show the other businesses the economic benefit to having their store freshened up with the ethnic artwork. This might arm you with enough facts to be able to charge for the work, and pay the helpers, which are from the immediate area. As to how to pitch the neighborhood to shoppers from elsewhere, you might get help from newspapers and so forth.Below is a picture of artwork I made that is supposed to look African, I think this would look pretty cool done large on a wall.
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