Saturday, July 30, 2005

# Posted 11:18 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

IF COFFEE IS BLACK, HOW CAN STARBUCKS BE RACIST? In Thursday's Post, Metro columnist Marc Fisher pointed out this delightful interactive map, which lets you map out all of the Starbucks around where you live or work. For example, there are 39 Starbucks within walking distance of my old office near Dupont Circle. (To see their precise locations, click the "Starbucks" button in the upper left-hand corner of the map.)

But as Fisher points out, there are very few Starbucks in Prince George's County in Maryland, just to the north and west of Washington DC. According to local residents, there is a very simple reason for this tragic deficit: racism.
"There's no reason Prince George's shouldn't have more," says Kwasi Holman, president of the county Economic Development Corp., which recruits retailers.

As Prince George's became the nation's most affluent majority-black county, residents still had to travel beyond the county to shop. Although Prince George's has more households with incomes over $100,000 than Anne Arundel or Howard, those suburbs each have two fashion department stores (Nordstrom and Lord & Taylor), while Prince George's has none.

On paper, Prince George's and Anne Arundel counties are similar. About a third of adults in each has a college degree, far less than Montgomery's 59 percent, but that hasn't kept retailers out of Anne Arundel. Many Prince George's residents say the only remaining explanation is race: The county is 65 percent black, while Anne Arundel is 14 percent black.

Starbucks says its slow pace in Prince George's has nothing to do with race and everything to do with the lack of the big-box shopping centers that the chain prefers for its suburban locations. And the big boxes have stayed away because of fear of crime, developers say.
So, is crime just an excuse for corporations that want to avoid black neighborhoods, or is it a serious problem in Prince George's? Well, according to the top story in today's Metro section, "Increasing Crime Provokes Police Rift":
Prince George's Police Chief Melvin C. High and his rank-and-file officers publicly clashed yesterday over the county's escalating violence, with the police union saying the chief's crime-fighting plan has failed and High responding that his department's biggest problem is unproductive officers...

The public feuding between the officers and the county's top law enforcement officials comes as Prince George's grapples with a growing problem with violent crime. Homicides have increased 26 percent, rapes by 22 percent and carjackings by 45 percent, and robberies have surged 123 percent compared with this time last year.
The rest of the article doesn't make for pleasant reading, either. But maybe the problem really is Starbucks. Why are the cops in Prince George's so lazy? Because they don't drink enough coffee. And why don't they drink enough coffee? Because there aren't enough god***n Starbucks in the neighboorhood!
(0) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments: Post a Comment