By Attorney Edward N. Smith Sr.
Frost Illustrated Publisher
Your collective outpouring of support, however, gave stark contrast to an issue that portrays the other side of the coin—the widespread lack of respect and support for our voices in other quarters.
In the pages of Frost Illustrated, you see stories that let the world know that the fight to receive justice and parity in this nation is far from over. Witness the recent Supreme Court decision regarding voting rights, the scam being run on the people by “prisons for profit” schemes and more. Locally, we have several stories in the works about unjust firings, possibly based on race and folks falsely being profiled and harassed as shoplifters in local stores. And, we thank you for your efforts to support us in the work of allowing you to bring all that to light.
We have the stories and your support, but interestingly enough, we seem to be lacking support from other quarters of the community who claim they are concerned about the well-being of the entire community and bringing truth to light. Notice the lack of advertising dollars spent in our pages and note the impact that has on bringing truth to light. We find it and hope you find it interesting that there are a large number of stores and businesses in this city, particularly on the south side of town, that are full of black and brown faces. In fact, it’s no secret that if people of color stopped shopping in these places, they would dry up and wither on the vine. They want our money—your money—but they don’t want to spend it with black and brown businesses. I recently met with Brother Fernando Zápari, publisher of El Mexicano, the city’s Spanish language newspaper, and, in comparing notes, I was appalled by how little advertising dollars were devoted to the Black Press and the Latino Press by certain businesses whose lifeblood is black and brown-skinned people’s money.
Both Brother Zápari and I have heard a host of excuses of why these people don’t spend money with us—money that would allow us to create even more jobs in our communities. But, I’ve heard the truth: “We don’t need to spend money in the black community because your people will shop with us anyway.” I’m sure my brother has heard the same, just tinged with a slightly different hue. Apparently we’re dealing with people interested in only taking, not fair trade.
Meanwhile, black businesses are driven out of business, black employers are forced to cut back or lay off their staff when our community’s unemployment figures are at record highs. Big box stores come in and undercut prices until they drive community-owned stores out of business then, as monopolies, they can charge what they want. And, they put little to nothing back into the community.
Liquor stores crop up on every corner in the black community yet those stores don’t advertise in the black community’s publications. Don’t just ask us, ask the folks at INK, one of the city’s other previous black papers who suffered from the same neglect by folks who have no problem raiding the community for dollars and not putting anything back. Meanwhile, Frost, which has been in business coming up on 45 years, making it one of the oldest black businesses in the city, is blessed to have a handful of dedicated part-time and volunteer staff to make sure your voices are heard. They are determined not to let your voices be starved into silence.
But, we want to let you know, when those businesses don’t spend with us, we have to cut pages and features that serve you. This week’s paper is what it looks like when people starve out your voice.
Do I sound perturbed yet? You’ve got that right! Some are going to say it sounds like sour grapes. You betcha! I come from a time when folks got tired of being used, disrespected and tossed to the side. So, we stood up and fought. The folks in the Montgomery Bus Boycott had the idea and they brought the company to its knees by refusing to spend money with folks who disrespected them. Locally, Brother Louis Dinwiddie had it right by threatening to use the airwaves to organize the boycott of businesses who took bags of black folks’ money but refused to advertise with black radio and black papers. The Hatch family had it right, picketing grocery stores that sat in the heart of the black community but refused to support their voices.
In issuing a heartfelt thanks also to the advertisers who do support us—and who have shown they respect and appreciate your business—we also want to let you know there are folks out there who don’t deserve our dollars or your dollars.
Folks, you tell us. What needs to be done to change this so that our businesses can put more of your husbands, wives and children to work?
Let us hear your voices in changing this state of affairs, including your ideas of a plan of action to change it. Contact us by telephone at (260) 745-0552 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
This article originally appeared in the July 17 print edition.