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On “war zones” and “foreign invasion”

Thursday, Dec 18, 2014

* N’Digo Magazine publisher Hermene Hartman helped the Bruce Rauner campaign’s outreach to the African-American community. She discussed her work with Fox 32

“His outreach was real, it was not phony, it was very real. I know, I was there, I did it, ok so it was very real, it was authentic. He learned a lot. He saw some things that I think he had not seen. He learned about the African American business community, he traveled our neighborhoods and saw what I call warzone areas,” said Hartman.

“That touched him, that bothered him and him being a businessman, he related to it and he saw solutions for it, that was a lot of our conversation,” said Hartman.

Hartman said Rauner saw things he hadn’t seen, “Like the war zones of our communities, lack of businesses.”

The mom n’ pop diner stops familiar among politicians seeking office were few and far in between once Rauner hit Illinois’ most impoverished communities.

“We don’t have a lot of restaurants for example. We don’t have, I call it the foreign invasion. Many of the African American communities, the businesses that we do have are foreign invaded, other people other than us run these businesses. A lot of fast food restaurants, a lot of liquor stores so there’s a lack of business, there’s a lack of enterprise. A lot of the crime that we have would go away if we had businesses there to hire people,” said Hartman.

Blaming “foreigners” for this problem is really odd. It’s not like they’re crowding out other potential business owners because there aren’t that many retail stores in the first place.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

35 Comments
  1. - RNUG - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:30 am:

    The way I’m reading it, “foreign” is code for “non-black”


  2. - Timmeh - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:34 am:

    I read it as people who aren’t invested in the community; just wanting to make a profit.


  3. - MrJM - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    I read “foreign” as “not locally owned” and/or “non-black”.

    Poor choice of words for a professional communicator.

    – MrJM


  4. - Amalia - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    horrible comment. imagine if this were a white person making the comment and what the blowback would be.


  5. - Gone, but not forgotten - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    What happened to the Whole Foods Store that Rahm engineered? Oh, that would be “foreign” too. Why would businesses, foreign or otherwise, want to open only to be vandalized and robbed?


  6. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:51 am:

    Timmeh, if you’re operating a business in the ghetto, I’d say you’re plenty invested in the community.

    She’s obviously talking about the Asians and Arabs who take the risks and bust their humps to bring businesses to the ghetto. Believe it or not, they are out to make a profit. Of course they are.

    “People other than us run these businesses.” Yes, that’s racist.

    What’s stopping you, Hermene, from opening a grocery store in Austin or Englewood? You’ve obviously got investors for your publication.


  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:56 am:

    If rampant crime is a sound reason not to start/continue a business, then those ‘foreigners’ who brave the war zone should be given some kudos for trying to make a living despite the hazards. Other than blaming others and playing victim, what is actually being done to reverse the disintegration of the neighborhoods?


  8. - Frenchie Mendoza - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:57 am:

    “…the businesses that we do have are foreign invaded, other people other than us run these businesses…”

    Yikes.


  9. - walker - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:09 am:

    Is Rauner a “foreigner” in her mind?


  10. - Sir Reel - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    Then I suppose Apple is Microsoft foreign invader.

    Seriously if lack of access to capital is preventing AA businessmen from investing in the AA community then there may be a real problem.

    Competition isn’t the problem. It’s the American way.


  11. - VM - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:19 am:

    “It’s not like they’re crowding out other potential business owners because there aren’t that many retail stores in the first place.”

    True they are not crowding out other businesses, but I think there is a real problem with racial discrimination in obtaining credit to open a business. Plenty of studies and reports are out there finding a disparity in qualifying for and interest rates paid by African Americans versus other races for loans of all kinds, even when you account for credit score and income.


  12. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 11:45 am:

    So its ok to be racist against Asains and Arab store owners who invest where the community itself hasnt. Has Hermene Hartman opened any restraunts or stores in these impovrished areas


  13. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:05 pm:

    VM, I don’t see some small mom and pop quickie mart getting much credit from a bank to start out. Most of those shops come about when folks work 2-3 jobs and save their pennies until they can open the small store - staffing it with family who work around the clock busting their humps. I don’t see many banks loaning money to a tiny store front shop like that in the neighborhoods - certainly not in the beginning.


  14. - Rod - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:20 pm:

    VM the advantage of the e so called “foreigners” isn’t credit, but inter family loans that are paid back without interest in some cases because of religous prohibition against usury. For a study of this go to https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/advocacy/rs396tot.pdf

    Instead other deals are cut like buying goods at higher costs from the family member making the loan, giving work to specific people etc. The African American community does not have many rich uncle Amads who can provide capital at zero interest based on a hand shake.


  15. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    It’s always interesting to see these “commuity activists” whine that they want private sector investment in the community, but when businesses from outside are willing to take that risk, the commuity activists oppose them because they’re non-union (Wal Mart), they don’t pay a “living wage” for jobs that are low value and low skilled, and they don’t like the people of other races and communities dveloping commerce if they actual can make “profits” form their business.

    There’s a TREMENDOUS amount of African American money out there that could be invested there but isn’t.

    Michael Jordan, Jesse Jackson, Valerie Jarrett, Kanye West, and many other successful and wealthy African Americans could be funding startups in these neighbor hoods, but never seem to be doing much in providing seed money for new community small businesses. They’re investing in Amazon, big banks, mutual funds and big name “foreign” stocks like their paler bretheran.

    Even the right reverend Wright built his $10 million retirement mansion in Tinley Park, NOT Englewood.

    Seems they only demand taxpayer dollars to be at risk in African American comunities, not THEIR big bucks. No surprise there, is there?


  16. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:26 pm:

    ==foreign invasion ==

    That is some very strong language. Would she prefer all the ==foreigners== suddenly pulled out and refused to do business in those ==war zones==?

    And how would she respond to the news that merchants were suddenly closing shop and refusing to do business in ==many of the African American communities==? Would she say ==Good, that is what I wanted==? Or would she say ==What a terrible thing to refuse to serve African American communities==?


  17. - Precinct Captain - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:45 pm:

    ==- Amalia - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 10:47 am:==

    Have you ever been to suburban zoning meetings? Happens all the time.


  18. - Anonymous - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:53 pm:

    If previous commenters are correct, and I agree and think they are, is a black owned business in a Hispanic or white neighborhood “foreign”? What is the implication as to how one should treat a “foreigner”, not an intelligent comment.


  19. - Wumpus - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 12:58 pm:

    Foreign=non black or non-local black. SImilar to insurance language.

    Part of the problem is that a lo tof people think people from other countries get special government assistance, etc


  20. - Arizona Bob - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:06 pm:

    @FKA

    And how would she respond to the news that merchants were suddenly closing shop and refusing to do business in ==many of the African American communities==? Would she say ==Good, that is what I wanted==? Or would she say ==What a terrible thing to refuse to serve African American communities==?

    She’d say both. Her superpower,as it is for most “community activists”, is that they talk from both sides of their mouths…..AND GET AWAY WITH IT!


  21. - James - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    There is an absence of retail in most black Chicago neighborhoods. For example, drive south of Madison Street on Kedzie to 22nd. Very little other than vacancies and board-ups, “foreign-owned” convenience/liquor and a few hair salons. Churches. Once you are south of 22nd and the neighborhood is Latino, there is every kind of retail and service, very few vacancies. Stores are well-kept and colorful. There is foot traffic.

    There may be a lack of credit available to African-Americans. But there is also a lack of training. How do you learn how to run a retail store? Not in school. Maybe from your parents who operate a store. Or by working closely under an unrelated retailer, who teaches you what needs to be done. That training doesn’t seem to be happening in the black Chicago communities. There is no retail tradition.


  22. - Demoralized - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:29 pm:

    If a community is a “war zone” I’m not opening up a business there, whether I’m white, black, brown or whatever other color you want to throw in there.


  23. - A guy... - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:35 pm:

    People may not like what she’s saying here…it’s pretty heavy. What it also is, is the perception of the people in these communities. Many of the convenience marts are small, high-priced and owned by Middle Eastern merchants. The relationship with the community members who shop in them are much less cordial than what many of us experience in our local convenience marts.

    There are any number of obstacles for people from the community doing business in the community; most of which are simply the resources to stock and operate an establishment. The severe lack of competition allows for more price gouging than most places. Since these are the people who can least afford to overpay for basic things, there is a lot of resentment there. It’s real alright.

    Making those places safer is the only place to start in order to attract more businesses, business people and better business practices.

    She puts it in harsh terms, but I’m sure that’s precisely what she’s hearing…and probably thinking.


  24. - VM - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:46 pm:

    @Rod: you may very well be right. But it’s still credit that’s not available to African Americans.

    @dupage dan: even when you scrimp pennies, you need credit to start and operate a retail store, even if it’s a corner bodega (to use the NYC term). Moreover, a lot of the credit an individual who starts a small business gets is because of equity in a home, and there’s a long history of African Americans being locked out of the mortgage market. I don’t think your explanation of “work two or three jobs and scrimp” even comes close to describing all the disparity and adversity black business owners face.


  25. - walker - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    Many of these small business owners also don’t get bank financing.

    Private, not-too-usurious “lending circles” help start a lot of businesses among groups of recent immigrants in our cities. Korean, Greek, Gujarati, and Chinese come to mind. Free family labor is also key to survival.


  26. - liandro - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:01 pm:

    It’s not even slightly uncommon for people in an under-served community to resent the fact that there are not a lot of locally-owned businesses. These communities understand (and resent) the “connected” and “unconnected” aspects of business that both Rod and V-man were discussing.

    Here’s a simple statement: some communities have less opportunities. The schools are worse, the neighborhood economy is worse, the culture can be embittered, the vices are more widespread. I doubt many on this board can truly comprehend growing up and living like that–and that’s a good thing. The goal should be to make sure even fewer have to do so. No one has has to agree with what another says or does, but we do all have to address the root problems.


  27. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:05 pm:

    Sorry, VM, you are right - you need credit. But I note you don’t mention where the credit comes from. Rod commented a bit later on inter-family loans. In the Arabic/Moslem community, loans frequently occur but due to religious reasons there is no interest attached. In other ethnic communities, families help each other out, as I mentioned. Lending rates by loan companies/banks for that type of business in those neighborhoods is quite uncommon.

    That type of financing has been going on for millennia. No reason other folks/groups couldn’t do the same thing.


  28. - liandro - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    - James - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    Great comment! I was rolling my eyes at certain commenters who made it sound like all you need is access to capitol (itself a problem in many communities) and an opening date. So very wrong, as far too many small business owners quickly (and brutally) find out. Knowing how to successfully manage a business isn’t something anyone is born with, and if you aren’t “connected” there are often few opportunities to learn the crucial skills involved.


  29. - Amalia - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:31 pm:

    @Precinct Captain, and was there coverage? and appropriate blowback? I’m loving the suburban flap over the school board member who said homophobic things about a school superintendent. the community rose up against that as it should.
    my point is, Hermene needs to be ostracized for this comment. will she be?


  30. - Wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    Not all Arabs are Muslims and the great majority of Muslims are not Arabs.

    Guy, Hartman speaks for herself, but don’t presume she speaks for everyone in black communities. But your review of inner-city stereotypes is duly noted.


  31. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 3:55 pm:

    === - liandro - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:06 pm:

    - James - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 1:19 pm:

    Great comment! I was rolling my eyes at certain commenters who made it sound like all you need is access to capitol (itself a problem in many communities) and an opening date. So very wrong, as far too many small business owners quickly (and brutally) find out. Knowing how to successfully manage a business isn’t something anyone is born with, and if you aren’t “connected” there are often few opportunities to learn the crucial skills involved. ===

    That’s called capitalism. Starting a business is risky. Most fail within the first 3-5 years. And yet, folks start them up all the time - fools tho they may be. Go figure.


  32. - dupage dan - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 4:04 pm:

    Speaking about being connected - Chicago sure has a reputation for making business start ups hard what with all the special involvement by Alderpersons and all that. I wonder how all those “invaders” get past that? Or maybe they just fly under the radar. If so, so can everyone else. It curious.


  33. - A guy... - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 5:01 pm:

    === Wordslinger - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 2:43 pm:

    Not all Arabs are Muslims and the great majority of Muslims are not Arabs.

    Guy, Hartman speaks for herself, but don’t presume she speaks for everyone in black communities. But your review of inner-city stereotypes is duly noted.====

    Fully anticipated your frontal attack on this one Sling. Please argue the point and dispute what you believe is not true, or supported by the facts in what I shared with you. She is a publisher for heaven’s sake; does she not speak for anyone? I think she is sharing pretty candidly what she knows to be how people in the black community feel about the merchants who comprise a large number of store owners there.

    She’s giving it to you at face value Sling. Accept it, reject it, do your own research if you want. She’s telling a harsh truth. Deal with it.

    As far as me stereotyping inner city residents; I resent it, until I consider the all knowing source. You’re looking for the opportunity to be condescending and nearly never miss one. You’ve succeeded again. To be even clearer, your response was beyond “jerky”.


  34. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Dec 18, 14 @ 5:33 pm:

    @Arizona Bob - it does seem like a danged if you do, danged if you do not sort of situation according to Ms. Hartman’s worldview.

    Invest in the area? You are a foreign invader. Abandon the area and refuse to do business there as a foreign invader? You are biased and racist.


  35. - Arizona Bob - Friday, Dec 19, 14 @ 7:32 am:

    @FKA

    You hit it right on the head.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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