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Opinion: Tales from the ‘Hoods

Credit: Lifesize

Believe me, I understand the allure of a punchy pun in a headline.

I’ve worked in newsrooms my entire life and yes, nothing gets you the back claps and big ups like a clever turn on words.

But everything isn’t here for that kind of treatment.

That’s why I, and obviously others, take particular offense at this headline that ran on the Economist blog yesterday.  The publication titled a piece about Whole Foods building a store in Chicago’s Englewood community as “Whole Hoods.”

If I were to play word association with the headline, here’s how it would go:

Ridiculous.

Elitist.

Arrogant.

Unthinking.

And it doesn’t end there.  The writer apparently also thinks Whole Foods suits have lost their entire minds for venturing into an area of the city filled with so-called poor residents who typically have more luck buying a gun than groceries.  (To be fair, the gun/grocery quote did come from an area organizer in a prior piece.)

Much is made of the notion that people in the area are too impoverished for the fine fare at this so-called Whole Hoods, including this sentence: “Many shop at the bargain basement Save A Lot, a shop that prides itself on recipes that allow a family of four to be fed for under $5.”

Wow, did the scribe conduct a poll in the area to confirm the “many” who patronize said Save A Lot?

There’s also a pretty bold assertion that “Nonetheless, nobody had quite imagined that Whole Foods’ efforts to expand would take it to Englewood.”

For reals?  How exactly would this author know what “nobody” imagined?

Yes, Englewood is an area in the city that has attracted national attention for violence and crime. It is not the gleaming series of townhomes, condos and anchor stores that represent the also name-checked Lincoln Park ‘hood on the North Side.

But it is far more than that.  It’s a place where families live.  It’s  an area that could use a new option for groceries.  It’s a community that, like many others in America, could use additional jobs brought on by a retail project.

What it’s not is a punchline for some faux social scientist across the pond.

If you want to read a real piece about the Whole Foods and its potential  impact on the community, try this link right here for the Chicago Sun-Times which broke the story as did WBEZ.   Bonus: the headlines actually makes sense.