Brooklyn Singh vs. Walmart

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.

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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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30 Responses to “Brooklyn Singh vs. Walmart”

  1. Sanehval says:

    There is a solid population of Singhs and Kaurs working and learning in the hospitals in Brooklyn, notably at Lutheran and Brookdale.

  2. Singh says:

    Opportunists from the Caribbean islands, only there to fulfill their 2 year quotas, before leaving to greener pastures for their careers or even back to their apartments in gentrified areas like Park Slope. Power to the people Sanehval!

  3. kantay says:

    wow… when did the world become divided into either the disposed and the opportunists? or maybe the third is the people who would otherwise be opportunists but are saved because they label others as such

  4. Singh says:

    Or Kantay there is a fourth group that doesn't really make any sense when they comment.

  5. Blighty Singh says:

    Not sure if this thread is about Brooklyn or superstores such as Walmart breaking up communities…..and the part Sikh traders play in it. I'll have to go with the second so : Its a worldwide issue. happening everyday in India, Birmingham as well as Brooklyn. Thousands of vegetable sellers and other smal traders in Amritsar trying to stop the expansion of the Walmart stores under the name of 'Best Price'.
    Not sure what kind of merchandise Mr Chabra in the video sells. Looks like its western 'shirtings', rather than the Punjabi 'suitings and shirtings'. Iffings he wassings sellings punjabi cloths in a punjabi area than I don't think he'd be complaining so much because I'm pretty sure Walmart in America have gone the way that Walmart in Canada and England (Asda) have gone and incorporated local punjabi suitings and shirtings retailers into their new stores with a dedicated ethnic clothing section.
    This whole thing though is about ethics. On the one hand working class communities are being decimated because of the spread of these stores….while on the other hand we're all better offf because 25 years ago 60% of our wages earned were spent on groceries whereas now, because of these big superstores, we only have to spend (I'm gonna have to make this percentage up) 20%.
    So….to hell with Mr Chabra and his neighbourhood…….My vote goes to Walmart.

  6. brooklynwala says:

    "to hell with Mr Chabra and his neighbourhood"
    really? made up stats aren't helping your argument, nor is this statement. shouldn't the community being targeted for a store ultimately get to decide if a store like this opens up in their neighborhood? walmart has been pushing HARD in nyc to come across as pro-working class and as having tons of support from the community. anyone that has followed walmart's history should be well aware that their jobs pay very little (see link below) and they are extremely anti-union, taking countless actions to undermine their workers' right to organize and collectively bargain.
    there is a huge campaign in NYC against walmart opening up here including this group (in addition to the one i mentioned in the post): . the city council is against it, even the mayor is against it.
    more than anything i'd suggest you check out this fact sheet from the film "walmart: the high cost of low prices":
    walmart indeed would send mr. chhabra and his neighborhood to hell, so to speak…

  7. Blighty Singh says:

    The people reading this and everything else on this blog need to ask themselves this question : When my reply to the above…..which included a detailed step by step account of what happened when Europe's largest supermarket chain planned to…and then did… up literaly 2 mins drive from my own working class family's convenience store, was not allowed because not deemed relevant to the both this topic and specifically the remarks made by brooklynwala avove ^ . The question then is this : How long can a UK based Sikh survive on The Langar Hall ? ……before the langar hall either ban him or make life too difficult for him to be here ? It seems top happen all the time.

  8. Blighty Singh says:

    "your comment made no mention of your family's convenience store,"
    ^ You're nothing but a bare faced liar brooklynwala. The whole of my message was about my family's convenience store……the planning permission granted to the hypermarket…..the local authority referring the matter to the Secretary of State for the Environment……He ordering a public inquiry……My fathers testimony at the public hearing……the subsequent building and opening of the hypermarket…..and the effect it had on my family's business and the local community. If that isn't relevant to a discussion about working class people…particularly a sikh businessman… and the effect a new hypermarket has on him and the local community….then I'm a monkey's uncle (no offence to one of my nephews. Who does indeed resemble a monkey).
    But the way it works here……the way it has always worked……is theat people like you here control what is said in a way that supports your own view… a way that will show you as the winner of the debate. You do that by not allowing the alternative view. You don't normally get caught out because unlike what I did, the people who's views are not published do not bother to come back and state how their views are stiffled.
    If my short time here has taught me one thing it is this : I would probably find a more understanding….and similar wavelength people on a UK based Hindu, muslim or rastafarian discussion forum / blog. Extremely difficult for any UK Sikh to communicate with a North American Sikh. And the reason for that is mostly about education. Or lack of therein. Whilst the UK sikhs are well versed in north american news, ways etc……..the North Americans are totally ignorant regards anything outside their borders. For example what you said about 'made up stats'. As news debates, parliamentary debates, judicial decisions in the UK have made it abundantly clear that 25 years ago we had to spend 60% of our weekly wage on groceries whereas now it is a tiny fraction of that……A uk sikh talking to another uk sikh would not have needed to clarify that issue…..unless, of course, the other sikh was a bit mentally handicapped. It seems to me then, that if a uk sikh wishes to converse here he will have to assume the other sikh reading his comment is a bit mentally handicapped……and therefore write his comment accordingly.
    That is why you hardly ever ever see any UK sikhs here on langar hall. If he comes, he can't talk freely. he can't talk naturally. While his european education system and society generally, teaches him all about the culture, politics, words etc of the north americans………The education system of the North american teaches him nothing of the world. Communicating with you people, therefore, is so difficult its hardly worth attempting. Its like banging one's head against a brick wall.
    Honest to god…..hand on my heart. Even though i'm a Khalistani proud sikh….I've probably got more in common with and can communicate better with, and would recieve a better reception from, european based blogs by Hindus and muslims. I don't plan on being here much longer.

  9. commentee says:

    the comments section of TLH is so frustrating and disappointing to read – blog post after blog post there are commenters who consistently pummel the authors, their points of view, and anyone who tries to have a rational and fair discussion with them. the video shown above is an amazing one – a testament to community members of different ethnicities and backgrounds coming together about a shared issue. why can't us readers just read and get along?

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