!!> Reading ➵ Franchise ➭ Author Marcia Chatelain – Alwaysonltd.co.uk
Marcia Chatelain, an associate professor of history and African American Studies at Georgetown University, has written a powerful book, Franchise The Golden Arches in Black America that examines the unknown history of the civil rights movement and the expansion of the fast food franchising phenomena in black communities across America The book largely uses McDonald s as a window into the franchising of fast food restaurants The book fills a conspicuous gap in the historiography on McDonald s, as Chatelain argues that while a rich body of scholarship exists on McDonald s no previous study has examined the way in which the famed Golden Arches elbowed its way into black America and in fact, owes much of its success to the black communities.The meticulously researched book shows the strength of historian Chatelain As an historian, I appreciated the contextual arcs that she deftly draws for the reader McDonald s was founded in San Bernardino, California, by the two McDonald brothers and later grown into a thriving business by Ray Kroc s efforts But, this is the history that many may already be aware of The fascinating history that has remained hidden is the growth of the McDonald s franchising under the Nixon administration of the late 1960s early 1970s This was a blind spot in my own historical knowledge, as the author shows how the Nixon administration largely flouted civil rights protections this is the era of the Nixon silent majority after all which I was aware of and instead sought to promote small business grants Thus, the birth of black fast food franchise ownership It was a shell game of sorts where Nixon could appear to support black communities while rejecting protection of civil rights Black capitalism came with a price as fast food restaurants sprang up but loans for homegrown businesses such as barber shops, hair salons, and Black bookstores were roundly rejected.While inroads were made in the black franchising in some communities such as Chicago, others like Cleveland proved resistant to black entrepreneurship As Chatelain shows a burger boycott wherein the black community flexed their purchasing power by refusing to patronize white owned McDonald s crippled these establishments By the late 1970s, many Black communities had grown weary of fast food businesses springing up in their neighborhoods while other services and job opportunities remained scarce Sensing the market pressures, McDonald s shrewdly developed a marketing strategy tailored to black buyers For a period time the slogan Get Down With Something Good at McDonald s supplanted the You Deserve a Break Today campaign that brought in white consumers but had little meaning for black patrons Ad campaigns like this one keenly tried to capitalize on the hearts and minds of Black patrons.Despite the acceptance by Black communities during the 1970s 1980s in the success of black entrepreneurs, by the 2000s that dream of economic advancement had fizzled Instead, fast food was perceived as a dead end job option Black communities vocalized the call for job training and the concept of the food deserts where fast food overpopulated Black communities and grocery stores offering fresh fruits and vegetables hardly existed at all Chatelain is quick to point out that realizing the actual history of fast food restaurants in Black communities places the discussion of food deserts and health concerns in a larger context She presciently concludes, In the ongoing, yet still superficial, public conversation about fast food, race, and health, we have to remember that our catastrophic disparities are a result of structural indifference to the depth of black hunger for everything from nutritious foods to well compensated jobs and strong communites to racial justice This book shows that when the public debate focuses on bad choices made by African Americans who opt for fast food instead of healthier choices tends to obscure the way in which capitalism has intersected with racism to yield few options The longstanding history of fast food franchises is such communities as South Central Los Angeles and Cleveland are upended by Chatelain s outstanding book I highly recommend it for those interested in African American history, economic history, and intersections of race and capitalism. Often Blamed For The Rising Rates Of Obesity And Diabetes Among Black Americans, Fast Food Restaurants Like McDonald S Have Long Symbolized Capitalism S Villainous Effects On Our Nation S Most Vulnerable Communities But How Did Fast Food Restaurants So Thoroughly Saturate Black Neighborhoods In The First Place In Franchise, Acclaimed Historian Marcia Chatelain Uncovers A Surprising History Of Cooperation Among Fast Food Companies, Black Capitalists, And Civil Rights Leaders, Who In The Troubled Years After King S Assassination Believed They Found An Economic Answer To The Problem Of Racial Inequality With The Discourse Of Social Welfare All But Evaporated, Federal Programs Under Presidents Johnson And Nixon Promoted A New Vision For Racial Justice That The Franchising Of Fast Food Restaurants, By Black Citizens In Their Own Neighborhoods, Could Finally Improve The Quality Of Black Life Synthesizing Years Of Research, Franchise Tells A Troubling Success Story Of An Industry That Blossomed The Very Moment A Freedom Movement Began To Wither Never made all of the connections that Dr Chatelain does here in telling the complex and intertwined history of fast food and African American entrepreneurs As the author gave a memorable talk at our university a few years ago, I knew it would be well written, drily funny at times, and piercing in its assessment of the structural racism permeating the American experience for so many Well done An EXCELLENT history of how white capitalists obfuscated the government s responsibility to support black communities by forcing them into their capitalist structures and ingratiating themselves along the way The history itself is compelling, but the explanation of how this history of ossification has stunted and harmed financially and physically black communities across the US is an impecable framing of the fast food issue Highly recommend this book for both its telling of the history of Black Capitalism fast food franchising and its critique of neoliberalism Marcia Chatelain is a professor of history at Georgetown University in Washington DC who writes of the history of fast food franchising in America s inner cities the hopes and promises, the benefits that came from them, but also the disappointment that ultimately resulted along with an obesity epidemic among young people in general It is an interesting story that Chatelain spins, focusing primarily on McDonalds because it took the first big steps in reaching out to black consumers and potential franchisees, especially after the riots of the late 1960s drove white owners out of the inner cities These new franchisees were successful and they provided employment in their neighborhoods and contributed much to their communities, but expectations were just too high for what they could realistically accomplish with minimum wage jobs. I learned a lot about a subject I previously knew nothing about. This is a must read for anyone thinking about becoming a franchisee for any fast food company in a black or brown neighborhood Many times, black capitalism is preached and pushed onto African Americans as a way to set us free This book confirms that this will not solve anything because the systematic structures full of racism will still hurt us The author also gives us a history lesson on McDonald s and the black community How some of our great leaders and organizations made deals with franchises that were not for the greater good over time Read this book if you want to understand why there is a fast food dominance in some of the worst neighborhoods. Franchise is a searing and incisive look at the consequences of a successful pairing of black capitalism with the rise of fast food franchising It is a sweeping history of the fight for black franchisees of McDonald s, the largest fast food chain in the world, to be heard by the corporation, but Franchise also looks at how government funding for Empowerment Zones and other tax free activity for businesses have enabled the spread of fast food joints in low income neighborhoods how the spread of this activity and aggressive targeting of and marketing to Black people has stamped Black people and the poor as some how synonymous with fast food, and how companies, particularly McDonald s has exploited this relationship to the detriment of the health of Black people There are a lot of really great aspects to this history, but perhaps my favorite is the reminder that the structural realities of racism and capitalism are the hidden backdrop to the ongoing and pervasive health disparities in the Black community diabetes, obesity, chronic diseases of all kinds including heart disease and not poor food choices Like so many other aspects of cultural and social life, the ails of Black people, particularly if they are poor, are blamed on them Chatelain reminds us, wisely, to remember that, as James Baldwin said, it is expensive to be poor The poor are not to blame for food deserts and the companies that profit off of uprisings, the destitution that follows and the lack of jobs, affordable, healthy grocery stores or dining options and It may be easier for us to believe that and to say that, but history tells another story An excellent, fascinating read.