Yeah, ouch! We really did touch a nerve with our posts and coverage about the anti-homeless sticker and merchandise the Black is selling in OB, and our subsequent call for a temporary boycott of The Black. Our posts and the coverage by local media have created a major story about this community.
The story went national on last Saturday, June 19th, what with the 10News story and the front-page article on the Union-Tribune / signonsandiego . The Drudge Report picked it up, the Associated Press picked it up, – I even had a friend from Petaluma in northern California tell me he read about it in his local newspaper. (Here is the most recent coverage by 10News from today.)
One of my favorite comments to our posts about all of this was by a guy who said,
“The story has gone national. I just talked to my mother who lives in a small town in Missouri. And she asked me if I was going to boycott the Black.”
With all the discussion – with the hundreds of comments left on 10News and the U-T and our blog here – the talk has gotten nasty at times, I have been personally attacked as if I created the homeless, and many have just simply shown their vitriolic side, blaming homeless people for all their ills, discounting the worst economy since the Great Depression and unemployment rates as high as 20% – the topic of the talk has progressed.
Through it all, the discussion about the anti-homeless graphic, the semantic games (“bum is not homeless”) or claims of it just being a spoof (‘it’s just a sticker’, “we just meant it as a spoof”), through all of this, we’re finally talking about the homeless and homelessness. And we need this discussion. Ocean Beach needs this discussion. San Diego needs this discussion. This country needs this discussion.
And we don’t discount the complaints by merchants. Not at all. Many of them are valid. The homeless also have complaints, and many of them are valid. We do have a problem, Huston, but selling stickers and merchandise with messages of hate are not the solution. And the problem is not just here in OB, of course, but is a city-wide problem, a regional and national problem
Homelessness is a social issue and we have a social responsibility to deal with it. We should be aiming our proverbial guns at City Hall about all of this, and not toward each other, and not at the homeless.
One of our concerns is that the hatred, the vitriol against the homeless, is being legitimized. Being down on the homeless while not being down on homelessness, is now okay. We fear this could lead to violence against the homeless. In fact, one homeless commenter to our blog talked about a rise in assaults against homeless here in OB.
Is the sticker something we are proud about enough to show our children? Is this how we handle problems like adults? Does the anti-homeless sticker represent a grown-up way of doing things? Will our children now feel it’s okay to speak smack against homeless people? Or despise them?
The Black Is Being Anti-Ocean Beach
Yet with the sales of the sticker, the T-shirts and now the hats, The Black is making a tidy buck off this anti-homeless bias that has been stirred up. Earlier this week, I asked Ken Anderson, a co-manager at The Black, if he would consider taking the stickers off the shelves if we presented him with a Petition asking The Black to do that. He said he would consider it.
It was only a couple of days later, he started selling the T-shirts and the hats with the same image. This was an ‘in-your-face’ escalation by The Black, pouring gas on a simmering BBQ grill.
What The Black is doing is not Ocean Beach. This sticker and graphic are not what Ocean Beach is about. They have gone beyond the pale in terms what this community represents and what its history has been.
It is not OB to tell people not to feed the homeless. It is not OB to punish an entire group for the rudeness and aggression of a few. The Black – in going to the dark side – has forgotten what it means to be in this community culturally. The store is showing us its true side – all for the almighty buck. “Want some hate? $2.50 please.” This is not what we are about.
OB stands for tolerance. OB stands for peace and love, OB stands for getting along with your brothers and sisters, with your neighbors. OB is an attitude of ‘live and let live.’ Look at all the peace signs around, in windows, as car decals, on people’s shirts. Look at the community spirit, the camaraderie.
OB has had this history of tolerance, of a tolerance for different lifestyles for decades. Over the years, OB has had college students, surfers, hippies, weird artists, musicians, bikers, barefoot beach lovers, uppity women, professionals, former professionals, ex-punk rock groups, rednecks, socialists, retired WWII vets, sailors, gays and lesbians, straight middle class families, druggies, judges, doctors, unemployed, the homeless.
We tolerate each other – that’s our creed.
OB has also always had its corners of intolerance. We’ve had our Klan members with white sheets marching down Newport – all 2 of them, we’ve had our violent bikers, our posse comitas members, our racist skinheads. But overall, the community as a whole, has always been tolerant.
This bias that has erupted over the last while is against the traditions of Ocean Beach. This is not what this community is about. The Black is doing the community a disservice and is smudging the good name and reputation of OB. Shame on The Black and shame on them for being so greedy.
Boycott The Black – Sign the Petition – Picket on Wed June 23
This blog is now renewing our call for a temporary boycott of The Black – until they take down all the merchandise with the messages of hate.
Here is the Petition to have the merchandise removed. Download it, have friends and neighbors sign it, and either mail back to us at PO Box 7012, OB 92167, or scan it and email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message in our email and we’ll pick it up.
We are upping the ante also. We will be having a Picket of The Black on Wednesday, June 23rd at 4pm. We will be asking people to sign the Petition and not buy anything in The Black.
The Black Should Donate Profits from Hate Merchandise to Churches Who Feed Them
We have heard that The Black has sold a 1000 of the stickers. At $2.50 each, that’s $2500. We hereby call on The Black to donate that – or part of it – to the churches in OB that feed the homeless. There’s an Ecumenical Council – a council of all the active churches in OB – and they take turns feeding the homeless. One church allows Lupe to feed hungry people each Monday. Other churches have allowed homeless to sleep in their courtyards or use their restrooms.
So, come on owners and managers of The Black. Give some of that money you’ve just made at our expense back to the community, to the churches who feed YOUR BUMS, back to the homeless and the bums you so delicately disparage. Give back to OB since you’ve just besmirched our community to the nation.