Leamington, Ontario BIA under fire for anti-U.S. Top Ten List
In an effort to keep shoppers from flocking to the Detroit area this holiday season the Leamington, Ontario Business Improvement Area has released a list of “Top Ten Reasons to Shop in Uptown Leamington.”
That, in itself, is find and dandy. The issue I have with this list is that it plays on stereotypical fears and racist preconceptions of the Detroit area in an effort to keep shoppers in Leamington.
You can tell there was an attempt at humor in this list – poorly executed, but an attempt. However, I take issue with one item in particular.
Number 7 on the list states that “If you’re going to downtown Detroit and you speak English … good luck.” The humorous intent behind this statement is unclear. It would appear instead that this is one of two things: A reference to the high proportion of African Americans who live in downtown Detroit, or a reference to the general intelligence of Americans as a whole.
As someone who’s had an opportunity to spend a good deal of time in Leamington I can surmise that is the former option. In fact, last I’d checked Leamington still had a by-law on the books from the 1800’s that forbids a “negro” from entering the city limits after dark (Note: I have not been able to substantiate this recently, so it may have been rescinded in the past 5 years – way to go, Leamington).
The fact that the BIA resorts to this sterotyping is both typical and trite. Rural Ontarians near the U.S. border all seem to have “horror” stories of getting lost in Detroit, invariably on their drive down to Florida. It’s as if I-75 is some Bermuda Triangle for Canadians that sucks them to the worst parts of Cass Corridor.
None, however, seem to find the time to actually visit Detroit. If they are crossing the border they are either going south or heading to the the suburbs to shop. And yet these stereotypes persist.
I have had the great (mis)fortune of spending a substantial amount of time in Leamington (most weekends between the ages of 16-19), and I can see little of value in shopping there rather than Windsor, let alone Detroit. Last I recall, Leamington was knows for three things: The Worlds Largest Tomato, having a Heinz plant, and having a dock from which the ferry to Pelee Island leaves from for half the summer.
So Leamington, why don’t you spend less time discriminating against Detroit in particular and America as a whole, and more time actually figuring out how to develop an economy that is based on more than greenhouses and cheap imported Mexican labourers.
Here’s the list as reproduced in the Windsor Star:
- 10. U.S. Customs won’t believe you’re picking up Aunt Elsie at the airport for the third time this week.
- 9. Distance from parking space to Somerset Mall entrance further than your house to Erie and Talbot.
- 8. If you’re going to downtown Detroit and you speak French … good luck.
- 7. If you’re going to downtown Detroit and you speak English … good luck.
- 6. U.S. stores sooner ship to Guam than Essex County.
- 5. American cashiers keep asking what Helen Mirren is doing on the Canadian $20.
- 4. No need to wear that new gown under your sweats coming back over the Ambassador.
- 3. Being strip searched at customs should not be part of your holiday shopping tradition.
- 2. With the gas and time you’ll save why risk it in a crazy foreign country.
- 1. Uptown Leamington has over 200 unique shops, restaurants and other attractions, takes your loonies and has the best service in North America.