This phenomenon is nowhere more apparent than in Detroit, my home for many years. Grocery stores are very rare there, in a city that outside of a few small neighborhoods is virtually 100% Black.
To make matters worse, many Detroiters don’t have transportation. Michigan’s auto insurance is the most expensive in the nation due to state laws. Punitive “driver responsibility fees,” added on top of fines for traffic tickets, move car ownership out of the realm of practical for working people making minimum wage or thereabouts.
The bus system is there, but it’s not not easy to access. Buses run infrequently and often unpredictably. A trip to a big grocery store is a half-day affair, at least. For a parent holding down two jobs to feed their kids, a trip to a big grocery store is often just out of the question.
So moms and dads shop at Family Dollar or the liquor store, of they bring home cheap fast food like a five dollar pizza from Little Caesars.
It’s not because they want to. It’s because they don’t have any other realistic options.
The problem is systemic, and the causes are interlocked. From a minimum wage that isn’t enough to feed a family, to punitive laws that make car ownership impractical for working class people, Michigan is a bad, bad place to be poor.
And white people in the suburbs seem to like it like that. They feel awfully superior and virtuous about being able to access healthy food, about having enough free time to get exercise and keep their weight down.