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By Brooklynwala

July 21, 2011

I just got an email from the Working Families Party (a progressive political party in NYC) about the latest developments in mega-corporation Walmart’s latest attempts to set up shop in NYC.  One of the biggest real estate development companies in the city called Related is reportedly in discussions with Walmart about building its first NYC store in the Brooklyn neighborhood of East New York.   The below video put together by ALIGN, the Alliance for a Greater New York, features a Sikh business owner, Iqbal Chhabra.

This video warmed my heart for several reasons.  It goes without saying that I live in Brooklyn and am concerned with all things Brooklyn.  Brooklyn is not exactly known for its large Sikh population.  I see the occasional Sikh construction worker or shop owner, but I don’t know of too many other Brooklynwale Singhs or Kaurs.  So I was pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Chhabra speaking out about an important Brooklyn-based issue in this video.

Furthermore, East New York is a predominantly Black, working-class neighborhood often referred to as “dangerous” or “the hood” and whatever racially-loaded terms you can think of.  It filled me with pride to see Mr. Chhabra situating himself as a real part of this community, rather than pitting himself against Black folks, which is far common in our community (and in South Asian immigrant communities in general).  He refers to his customers as his family and expresses love for them and for the community, which would be threatened if Walmart was to open up in the neighborhood.

Many props to Mr. Chhabra for courageously speaking out against one of the largest corporations in the world and standing up for his Brooklyn community!

If you agree with Mr. Chhabra and the many others who don’t want to see Walmart coming to their neighborhood, you can send a message to the CEO of Related here and let him know what you think.

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