Straight Words

Feeling disrespected? Redistribute the pain!

By Richard B. Muhammad - Editor | Last updated: Dec 22, 2015 - 8:35:29 AM

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Tis the season … for making folks pay attention.

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When Mike Brown, Sr., saw a little boy asking his mom for five bucks in a Family Dollar Store in St. Louis and mom said she didn’t have it, he knew what he had to do. He asked his wife and a friend if they had a few dollars. They didn’t. He decided to get change for a $20, give the little boy $5 and keep shopping for a few things for his mother.

According to the father of Mike Brown, Jr., whose killing in 2014 by a Ferguson, Mo., police officer sparked protests and unrest across the country and solidarity marches outside of the U.S., his good deed went wrong quickly.

He said he asked a White female employee at the store in St. Louis for change and was told she could not help him. Her nasty attitude, he said, certainly wasn’t helpful. So he went to a cashier and the same White woman, who he said turned out to be a manager, walked up behind him. She was disrespectful and belligerent, screeching that she already told him she wasn’t giving him any change, he said. The unpleasant conversation grew more unpleasant, the woman called the police, he said.

Sad thing is Mike, Sr., is a big guy with a heart of gold, rather reserved, often soft-spoken and not one to bring attention to himself. What he has done is try to turn a family tragedy into a positive by standing with victims and families struck by police violence and creating a foundation, Chosen For Change, that is devoted to developing and expanding opportunity for young people.

Anthony Shahid, a St. Louisbased activist and friend and advisor to Mike, Sr., reached out to the corporate office for an apology and to let them know what happened. According to Mr. Shahid, he had earlier dealt with the corporation about building stores with no Black participation. After several attempts to reach Randy Guiler, the activist said he was told the store policy was not to give change. And, he said he was told, calling the police was the right thing if the manager felt threatened.

Mike Brown is a community leader and should not have been treated with disrespect, no customer should, said the activist, who originated the “Hands Up! Don’t Shoot!” protest.

“As a local neighborhood store, we take situations like this very seriously. We have reviewed the incident involving Mr. Brown internally and determined that our associates were following Family Dollar policy. Please understand it is part of our corporate policy that we do not make change at the register in any of our stores,” said Bryn R. Winburn, Family Dollar public and media relations manager. Mike Sr. Said “store policy” wasn’t the problem it was the store manager’s foul attitude and calling the police for no reason. Calls to Mr. Guilder were not returned.

Mike Sr. Doesn’t know what motivated the woman to act the way she did.

But what Mike, Sr., said he suffered reminds me of the type of mistreatment Black folks suffer on a daily basis and the type of micro-aggression I believe help put Black men in the grave early.

There is apparently never any respite any relief from the slights and stress of racism in America.

But I think any proven corporate mistreatment of Black folk bring us back to #RedistributeThePain and the words of Dr. Martin Luther King shared by Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan.

We don’t need to go around talking bad, throwing bricks, bottles or Molotov cocktails, we just have to engage in economic withdrawal with those who mistreat us, said Dr. King. If we keep our money in our pockets, eventually anyone who disregards us will feel the pain.

Happy holidays!

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