March 26, 2008
Written by C.N.
Is it a another sign of the power of capitalism, or that a bastion of American society and culture is increasingly accepting of Arabs and Muslims, or both? You can judge for yourself: as the Associated Press reports, Wal-Mart is catering to the Arab and Muslim American population in the Detroit area:
Aisle 3, which also features Eastern European and Hispanic food, represents many of the 550 items geared toward Arab-American shoppers in the store that opened last week.
It might be statistically tiny in a store with more than 150,000 items, but it’s symbolically huge for the world’s largest retailer as it seeks to change from a cost-is-everything monolith to one that customizes its stores to meet neighborhood needs.
Managers say they seek peace with the neighborhood’s merchants — and vow not to undercut them on Middle Eastern specialties. . . . the modifications go beyond merchandise: It has 35 employees who speak Arabic — noted in Arabic script on their badges. The store also has hired a local Arab-American educator to teach the staff cultural sensitivity.
Overall, I applaud Wal-Mart for taking this step to make at least one of their stores more appealing to Arab and Muslim Americans and to reflect the demographics of its surrounding community, even if their ultimate motivation is to make more money.
For me, the alternative — ignoring the changing demographic and cultural changes in the local community — would be worse than trying to rake in a little more money. As we should know by now, American society and American capitalism are not perfect but they are a practical reality of the society in which we live.
With that in mind, we should find ways of coexisting and engaging all sides, rather than taking a take-it-or-leave-it approach that only breeds more distrust.
Then again, that’s just me. What do you think?
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Wal-Mart Catering to Muslim Americans" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2008/03/wal-mart-catering-to-muslim-americans/> ().
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