Don’t Blame Grocers

A recent article, “Early Deaths Tied to Lack of Grocery Stores,” [Chicago Sun-Times, July 18] left the impression that poor health in the black community was somehow a simple matter of “access” to grocery stores. But if we ask why we have few grocery stores in black neighborhoods we find the answer much more troubling.

The lack of entrepreneurial values in black communities has made locally owned grocers unheard of, and our very real crime problems scare off corporate chains. And when a big chain like Wal-Mart does want to come in (yes, Wal-Mart sells food too), various members of the City Council and the unions attempt to keep it from happening.

Unfortunately, our problems are a little larger than grocery stores–it’s poor community leadership. Need proof? Look at the mess that was made of the position of Cook County President.

Lee Walker ( is president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change. This letter to the editor was published by the Chicago Sun-Times on August 10, 2006.