What the “Vote No” signs in last month’s election revealed

   While we are sleeping, other minorities in our community are quietly and efficiently empowering their people in ways that are subtle with a global impact.

   During the elections last month, the Southside Economic Development District worked to get voter approval of a two percent hotel tax. Two weeks before the election, yard signs appeared in front of certain business properties, gas stations and stores in South Monroe. Tracking down the source, SEDD board members learned that all of the properties were tied to businesses owned by the Indian community in Monroe.

   It was only then that some realized what they had suspected all along. The Black community owns very few retail outlets in its own community. Most retail business establishments, other than national chains in South Monroe are owned by the Indian Americans.

   When the hotel tax threatened one of their enterprises, namely the hotels along the Highway 165 strip, suddenly “Vote No” signs popped up all over the Black community. For the first time, the Indian community which usually keeps quiet as it moves in the background, stuck its head up and waved “Vote No” signs calling attention to itself.

   We shouldn’t be angry with the Indians, they went to work quietly buying up property and opening retail outlets that cater to our community. They are grossing millions in a Monroe market that has been abandoned by our community.

    Property ownership along Winnsboro Road, specific intersections and other locations that service the African-Americans all have Indian owners. They include: Salem Abdullah, Naseem Corporation, Karminder Dhaliwal and Sookham Dhaliwal, Museleh A. Alobadi, Qaisar and Samereem Zia, JAASIM IV, LLC; Maged A. Alrubadi, Nasser Hussain and Mohamed Qayed, and Mohamed Mana Saleh just to name a few.

   None of these business people have done anything wrong. They have not broken any laws; they have taken advantage of our laziness. They cannot be blamed for seizing an opportunity that we neglected.

   We were once industrious, but we have failed locally to build upon the foundation laid by our fore-parents. Between 1920 and the early 1980’s the Monroe Black community had a thriving retail business community that included: hotels, cafes, a casket factory, insurance companies, a movie theater, gas stations on every corner, mom and pop grocery stores in every neighborhood, several laundries and even a credit union which served as a bank. Beauty shops, barber shops, tailoring shops, and auto repair shops everywhere. The Miller Family’s Reliable Insurance Company grew so large that it had 150 employees stretched out over several states.

   Somewhere along the line we became lazy or disinterested. We sought good paying jobs and neglected the three elements of wealth building: business ownership, stocks and investments, and real estate. When we abandoned the big three and decided to be consumers instead, it was an invitation for others to make millions, if they were willing to work hard and sacrifice to make the cash.

    The Indian community quickly learned what we wanted. From hair, to fingernails and shiny rims. They quietly bought up every property available. It was legal and efficient. 

    We can’t emphasize too much that they have not committed a crime. We left the door open. 

    First they organized themselves in the Central Louisiana Indian Association. Then, working as a diversified unit they branched out into convenience store, hotels and hospitality, real estate and investments, and Entertainment. All of their focus targets the under served neighborhoods. 

   They have quietly bought up most of the business properties on Winnsboro Road including major intersections such South Second and Wilson, 18th Street overpass at Texas Avenue and several other prime locations.

   They have a plan and it thrives on the fact that we have lost the entrepreneurial spirit. They are making the money that we have chosen to ignore. They are smiling all the way to the bank.

    This is just happening in Monroe, it’s happening in poor communities all across the United States.

    Globally, they are operating off economic principles espoused by C.K. Prahalad an Indian economist and professor who wrote a book entitled, “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid.” It shows people of India and other poverty stricken countries how to make fortunes although they are on the bottom of the economic pyramid. The secret is to take poor people, put them in businesses and teach them to work efficiently without waste and then get rich. 

    The irony is that the global plan that Prahalad laid out works best when it is implemented in poor communities with little money , and the residents are willing to spend rather than invest. They take advantage of being minorities, leverage every advantage and concentrate on one thing: operating a successful business.

    So, all over the nation, and in Europe impoverished people are being turned into business men and women, sometimes helped by major corporations that latch on to the idea as alternative to government giveaways, welfare and negative income models. 

     They were once poor, but aren’t poor anymore. Look hard to see if you can find an Indian in Monroe on Welfare or collecting food stamps. At the bottom, they have made a fortune off those who do.

     After 20 years of buying up property and intersections in South Monroe, the Indian community bought the property at the corner of Forsythe and North 18th even though they had to pay a million dollars more than expected. They are looking to the future because the Black community is moving North.

     As North Monroyans take flight and move to Sterlington and other places North, it is expected that African-Americans will begin to move into the Garden District and other areas.

     When Forsythe becomes the new Winnsboro Road, guess who will own the gas stations and business properties?

     We can’t blame the Indian community for their work ethic.

     Maybe we should read Prahalad’s book and do what they are doing; obviously it’s working!