Being Black: Why real Black people don’t shop at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s


First of all these supermarkets are not in Black neighborhoods. They can be found in suburbia or now in the heart of Manhattan. In the ‘Hood they have C-Town, Fine Foods, Key Food and the local overpriced bodega.  What’s a brother to do? I go into Whole Foods because I live near one (Yeah I live in Suburbia now, what did you expect, that I was holding it down or keeping it real?) but when I go in there the mix of Black people to White people is like 80-20 or 70-30 white to black. So immediately I have a dilemma do I continue to shop there or do I go down the block to the Pathmark where the majority of my people shop? I know it costs a lot more to shop at WF but its closer to my house and I like it better. So I shop at Whole Foods but with the guilt always nearby.

Now to me, WF is a step up in Blackness than Trader Joe’s. TJ’s is almost 99% white (at least the one I go to in Wayne, NJ). They don’t even have Black workers like WF does. Many times I am the only Black person in the entire store. But once I start shopping I don’t seem to notice. But I am aware, however, the times I do shop at Pathmark or the local bodega is when I’m in Brooklyn visiting family, or walking around the City. I get frustrated by the limited selection of foods, the dusty boxes of cereal and the lack of good service. If I’m guilty of anything it’s being entitled a little bit.  I won’t have a hissy fit or stomp my feet and demand service,  but I will take note and not come back again. It’s like something a Black dude  much like myself (handsome, funny, bougie, you know the type) told me “Once you eat Godiva chocolates, you can never go back to the cheap stuff” at first I was like “No way, chocolate is chocolate.” But now, 1 year into my Godiva rewards program, I’m hooked. I can’t wait to get my free piece of Godiva chocolate each month (I love the pecan-caramel cluster, hmmmmm!).

So yeah, I remember the fun experiences of arguing with the Korean guy because he is watching me like a hawk, or being amazed by the multi-tasking of Muhammad at the Arab bodega, who is talking on his cell phone, yelling at the teenagers who are acting crazy with their friends, while he overcharges me for a turkey hero with Swiss cheese  lettuce, tomatoes, and a little bit of mayo and a diet coke. But I don’t miss that stuff, maybe it’s because I’m older, or you know less Black, but I like to go into the store, get what I want without an escort, get my sandwich and bounce. Is that asking too much? Or do I have to experience the tension at the Korean store? Or the nasty attitude of Latonya at Key Food who is mad at her baby’s father for not sending her some money.

On the real, everyone should be able to go to a WF or TJ type of supermarket and have the same experiences I have. People have mentioned it before, but no one really talks about one of the reasons that Black people are more likely to be overweight and diabetic is because we can’t get decent food in our neighborhoods. My brother needs a new kidney because hypertension destroyed the ones he has, and has to eat much better than he ever has, but he tells me he can’t find the proper foods because they don’t sell the food he needs in his neighborhood. That’s sad and too real at the same time. Why can’t someone of color open up a supermarket in the ‘Hood on the same caliber of WF or TJ? You hear me Magic? or Jay-Z or Shaq or Derek Jeter? It doesn’t even have to be 100% Black owned,  you can be biracial, just put some of us on the board, I’ll be the first to volunteer my services for the better good.

By the way, I hate chitlins, tripe, hog-maws, and pigs feet, never liked it as a kid and wouldn’t even think of eating it now . .  . . Unless they sell it at Godiva and I can get a free pecan-caramel sample for trying it.

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