Last December, the owners of Common Roots Café in South Minneapolis put a sign in their restaurant window in response to anti-immigrant talk from then-candidate Donald Trump and others that said: “Hate Has No Business Here.”
“In the face of the xenophobic, hate-filled rhetoric that has entered the mainstream, we put up a sign to make it clear to Muslims, immigrants and refugees in our community that they are welcome…and that we stand by their side,” Common Roots owners Danny and Elana Schwartzman said.
The Schwartzmans, who employ 60 full-time workers in their restaurant and catering service, sparked something of a movement.
The Main Street Alliance, a progressive-oriented national association of small businesses, has adopted the theme as part of its “All Our Welcome Here” campaign, complete with posters that can be downloaded at www.mainstreetalliance.org.
“Thousands of businesses across the country have downloaded that poster,” said Corinne Horowitz of the Minnesota chapter of Main Street Alliance.
Horowitz said more than 125 Minnesota businesses have signed up recently as part of a related campaign called “Shop Your Values” at www.shopyourvaluesmn.com. The businesses stand against “hateful rhetoric and violence” and also encourage customers to work for racial-and-economic justice, employee benefits, child care funding, transportation funding and alternative energy.
Elana Schwartzman said last week that the spontaneous sign posting last winter reflected her and Danny Schwartzman’s belief that customers, employees and others, whether born in America, Mexico or the Middle East, deserve respect and fair treatment.
Moreover, immigrant labor plays a critical role in the growing Minnesota and national economy.
“We’re involved in a cohort of business owners that believe in doing well by doing good,” Elana Schwartzman said. “We think we have a role to play as community leaders.”
A kickoff of the Shop Your Values campaign Monday at St. Paul’s Lake Monster Brewing featured Twin Cities business owners, including Elana Schwartzman, Jason Rathe of Field Outdoor Spaces, Kayf Ahmed of Capitol Café, and Todd Mikkelson of Sprayrack in Orono.
A statement from Main Street Alliance business owners said they are “disturbed by hateful rhetoric and violence aimed at our Muslim and Arab community members, at refugees fleeing violence, at immigrants, at women and at people of color in our communities. This swell of hate and fear permeating our national dialogue both during and after the most recent election is dangerous. We believe it must be met head-on with clear statements of principle from local business owners because we are leaders in our communities.
“America must be a place where people from all nations, races, genders, and creeds seeking freedom and opportunity feel welcome and can build safe, prosperous lives for themselves and their families.”