“Old School South Phoenicians Versus The Newcomers”

An analysis of Richard Ruelas’ article for the Arizona Republic, entitled

South Phoenix waits for big-box gift, 11/24/00


            This article discusses the retail shopping and corporate franchises that are available for the residents of South Phoenix.  Or should I say the lack thereof?  South Phoenix is a community that is restricted to Mom and Pop restaurants and local shops.  To longtime residents of South Phoenix, this scene has become cumbersome and non-lucrative.  However, to someone new in South Phoenix, this nostalgia is perhaps part of the reason for buying gobbling up the property with expensive new homes.  But to old school South Phoenicians, this is just another example of eating the other. 

Eating the other is a term used by author bell hooks and relates to the idea of consuming the identity of another individual or culture.  The key is that the consumer does not want to be associated as that particular culture, they merely want to exploit the characteristics that will be beneficial to the consumer.  And this is happening right now.  Newcomers want to enjoy the tranquility of the mountains, enjoy authentic Mexican cooking and reap the benenfits of affordable shopping.  Meanwhile, they do not encourage employment oppurtunites that are beneficial to older residents or want to risk losing their view of their mountains.  This can be seen as an example of eating the other. 

            To an outsider such as myself, the shopping in South Phoenix was amazing.  Food City has aisles full of chilis, rice/beans, authentic salsa and traditional Mexican sweets for a reasonable price.  At the smaller shops, one can find any marketable good relating to Jesus, with every bright color in the spectrum represented in these crafts.  As a newcomer, I enjoyed the food, crafts and scenerary.  South Phoenix is beautiful and full of Hispanic culture.  Yet, is that something that should be preserved for only newcomers to enjoy?  No, because I failed to consider how paying extremely low prices for goods and services rendered was not a benefit for South Phoenix.  Instead, I exploited it for my own personnel consumption.

The solution for this dilemma lies with retail shopping and restaurants.  At the time this article was written, Wal-Mart had just backed out of its offer to build a super center (includes auto repair, full grocery store, bakery, pharmacy, photo shop, etc) at 24th Street and Baseline.  Before Wal-Mart backed out, they received 1,000 votes of support from longtime residents and 400 votes of resistance from newcomers.  The newcomers were more organized and won the debate.  They were concerned with the blockage of the scenrary that a Wal-Mart would cause.  While busy eating the other, the newcomers forgot of the benefits a store like that could bring.  Richard Ruelas speculates that businesses like Borders and Olive Gardens would soon follow.  Not only would the economics be positive for South Phoenix, but the employment opportunity for longtime residents would be overwhelming.  Between construction and operation, Wal-Mart could employ thousands.  Furthermore, Wal-Mart requires a drug test with each new employee.  This would help promote the idea of residents being drug-free and employed. Overall, the benefits of a Wal-Mart super center would be enormous.  But until then, long time residents must continue to trek into the more wealthy areas of greater Phoenix to do their shopping. 

In conclusion, South Phoenix should be preserved for his history, culture and beauty.  But not at the cost to those whose families have lived there for generations.  While the new homes are increasing some property values in the area, the newcomers are

over staying their welcome.  If they continue to eat the other and exploit South Phoenix, the community might never be able to unite as one.