What is the most precious commodity in Detroit? Many will say it is money or perhaps time. Sadly, many establishments have realized ignorance is a commodity that can be exploited in our city. I am ignorant of many things. I couldn’t tell you how a rocket flies or how to build a car engine. However, when it comes to knowledge about important issues that can improve our economic standing, there is nothing wrong with BEING ignorant but there is something wrong with STAYING ignorant.
If you take a walk down the street, the evidence of how people feel about the community is clearly demonstrated on the types of products being sold. We can complain about the high quantity of liquor stores, but business owners are simply target marketing based upon demographic research in that community. According to Wayne State University Center for Urban Studies, of the 1130 liquor license holders, 60% (683) of them were located in areas where the poverty rates ranged between 25.1% and 50%. Throughout the entire city of Detroit, there were 205 liquor license holders in areas where poverty was less than 25%. When you see a liquor store on the corner, know they have done their research of the habits, poverty levels, and crime in the community. Detroit’s crime rate was 2,122.9 per 100,000 residents compared to 454.4 per 100,000 in all of Michigan according to the Federal Bureau of Investigations. Hence you will see the addition of bulletproof glass to the store. They might perceive us as a risk to do business with, but the money they make exploiting our bad habits makes the risk worth taking.
One Detroit man who is certainly out of a job is the local weed man. With over 200 weed dispensaries in Detroit, almost one per square mile, there is no need for him. Isn’t it funny how we became so health conscious when we found out that marijuana could be used a drug? Weed refineries advocates claim we need more for “health purposes”. Why weren’t they advocating for more CVS Pharmacies or Rite Aids? Don’t they find value in Claritin? Why don’t we see these weed refineries popping up in Oakland County? Those who are pimping the city off of our bad habits won’t give you an honest answer. They are hoping you are too high realize you have been pimped and are already far north of 8 mile with your money by the time you come down. Shame on the doctors who are freely prescribing multiple medical marijuana cards to those who have never been sick and can’t spell glaucoma.
Take a walk with me down the street where we can see the purest of the purest exploitation of ignorance.
- The check-cashing store prays you don’t learn about repairing your credit and getting a bank account so they can keep taking 1-5% of YOUR money to cash your check.
- The cash advance store prays you don’t learn about budgeting your resources so they can keep charging you 200-300% interest rate to borrow money from them. They love those people who are living check to Tuesday.
- The refund anticipation loan prays you don’t learn about direct deposit so they can charge you 200-300% interest to get an ESTIMATED tax return.
- The pre-paid debit card prays you don’t learn about responsible alternatives like secured cards that can actually establish your credit. They hope you follow Russell Simmons and his Rush Card to the poor house.
- The rent-a-rim store prays you continue to get your values from broke artists on videos so they can charge you more than 30% interest to make your car, that you still don’t completely own, look “dope”.
We estimated one grocery store was earning an ADDITIONAL $500,000 per year on check cashing fees alone. Many liquor stores have also added these items to their revenue streams because they know they can capitalize off of us. I haven’t even mentioned lottery…a practice that makes billions nationally from a population of people who have lost hope in their own God given talents and now must rely on luck.
So what is truly the most precious commodity in our communities? Is certainly isn’t ignorance. It is love! The bible states, “Our love must not be a thing of words and fine talk, but must be a thing of action and sincerity. 1 John 3:18” We say we love Detroit, but if our actions were in line with what we were saying then these establishments wouldn’t be allowed to exploit us. Detroit is stronger, smarter, and better than what these predators perceive us to be. Here are five action items you can implement to eliminate these predators from your community:
- Sign up for a money management/credit class at one of the many organizations providing these services FREE OF CHARGE!
- If you are suffering from addiction get some help!
- If you have good credit and aren’t suffering from addiction abuse refer some friends to the resources mentioned above.
- Start and support community businesses. The more wealth we create in our communities, the fewer predators we will see in our communities. There is a positive correlation between poverty and predators.
- Call out all local politicians who have been elected to represent your interests but are failing to do so. I give kudos to Mayor Mike Duggan and Councilman James Tate for leading the fight towards reducing the amount of weed refineries. I offer serious questions for Councilman Cushingberry for not speaking out against the multiple weed refineries popping up in District 2 where I live. Is your local elected official doing the job of fending off predators in your community? Call them out!
The fight continues.