Questions raised about New York Supermarket chain’s hiring practices
The Food Bazaar Supermarkets have been a local staple in the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Williamsburg sections of Brooklyn for many years now. Every week around Thursday or Friday, supermarket flyers are left at the doors of all the local residents notifying us of the “Sales” the supermarkets are promoting for the week. Often the sales are reasonably priced and feature foods (mostly) purchased by their “Black” or “Hispanic” customer base – such as “Beef Oxtail”, “Pork Shoulder”, “Collard Greens” and “Waxed Yuca.” Furthermore, the supermarket chain has an extensive line of “International” food items which are purchased by many different ethnic groups. It would be safe to say that the Food Bazaar is a well-organized business offering a legitimate service to their (mostly) minority patrons and should be an asset to the communities they cater to.
However, it is not until you walk through the supermarket doors when you notice a “Breakdown” in the “harmoniously ethnic variety” which is found in the stores’ food items. In a community which has a diverse population of mostly Black and Hispanic residents, the positions at the Food Bazaar Supermarkets are being held by more than 98% Hispanic workers. Most, if not all, “Cash Register” positions are filled by Hispanic women, with the only exception being that Hispanic men occupy the more labor-intensive positions such as the “Stock” and “Butcher” positions. Even the “Fish Market”, “Delicatessen”, “Post Office” and “Lottery” are run by Hispanic’s. It is not presently clear whether the Security Guards who are Black are actually hired by the Food Bazaar directly or are hired by a private security firm. In a complaint sent to the owners of the supermarket chain, local resident Mel Wright, a nationally known photographer, wrote: “I would find it hard to believe that in this dismal economic climate African-Americans are not applying for jobs at your store.” There are calls for “Boycotting” the stores if the management does not change their hiring practices. For now, residents in the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Williamsburg community await a response from Food Bazarr’s management.(Eric M. Deadwiley is an author, freelancer, community activist.)