RaceTrac gas station owner fights eviction
Is it racism?
Eric Banks, allegedly the only African American owner/operator of a RaceTrac gas station, is calling for a nation-wide boycott of the company and its parent corporation, Atlanta-based Raceway Petroleum, after he received a 90-day notice informing him that his station would be offered to a new owner, because he was “no longer the right fit.”
Banks believes the decision is nothing more than the newest chapter in Raceway’s racist treatment of its Black operators.
Banks’ Ruston, La. location is in the middle of a predominately White neighborhood that has recently been undergoing extensive redevelopment making it more high-end. A lot of new businesses are coming into the area and Banks believes some of the African Americans seem to be being pushed out.
Banks said, in addition to the company’s latest request, in the two years that he has owned his gas station, Raceway has, on numerous occasion, failed to honor their contract agreement.
“They want to run me like I am a franchise, when I am not. The contract says that they are responsible for the outdoor maintenance of the station and the pumps but they aren’t suppose to have anything to do with the inside of my store and how I run it. I’m paying for all of the repairs, and I have to handle any losses and yet they are sending people out to do inspections in my store, giving instructions to my employees and affecting how I manage my business. It’s a direct violation our contract. They are constantly overstepping their bounds,” said Banks.
The petroleum entrepreneur believes that the way the corporation does business is like a ponzi scheme, and takes advantage of aspiring minority business owners. “It’s the economic lynching of 2010,” he said. “They make it hard for you to succeed, and you want to do more for you business but you don’t want to over-invest because at any moment they could put you out. Truly, we have survived by the grace of God and ingenuity.”
Even in light of the conflict with the Raceway corporation, according to Banks his location has accomplished record sales volume since he and his family gained ownership in 2008.
“We have tremendous community support, and have gotten thousands of signatures from people–White, Black and Hispanic, and more than 200 pastors, who support what we are doing. We are more than a gas station. We are a place where ex-offenders can get a job, when no one else will take a chance on them. We give college students opportunity to earn extra money while they are in school. We help the community. It’s about more than pumping gas,” said Banks, who also believes that any complaints against his location are stemming from middle-class White outsiders who are passing through and don’t understand what the store is trying to accomplish.
Senior Vice President of Operations, Bill Milam would only give this response to the accusations:
“RaceWay categorically denies that it unlawfully discriminates, in policy or in practice, against anyone. RaceWay owns close to 300 stores across the southeast and, by any measure, we have an extremely diverse corps of independent operators in those stores, including many African-Americans.
“RaceWay’s relationship with Mr. Banks was terminated, in accordance with its contracts with Mr. Banks. It is RaceWay’s policy not to discuss contractual disputes with individual operators in the press. I have attempted to contact Mr. Banks and have yet to hear back from him regarding a suitable time to meet.”
“My brother is the other operator that he is speaking of,” said Banks.” “The reasons he proposed (for the eviction) fall outside of the contract that he (Milam) has not read since his background is in building construction, and not operations, as he stated in my conversation with him. Also, he responded to me 20 days after my initial contact only after receiving media inquiries.”
Banks and his family refuse to go down without a fight saying that they have earned the community’s trust, and demand the right to continue serving their patrons and community.
Banks is among numerous other former and current Raceway/RaceTrac owner/operators who have taken issue with the companies business practices.
Raceway was contacted to elaborate on the exact number of African American owners, and other questions for clarification, but they did not respond.
Nearly one-third of African American students (32.9 percent) and one-quarter of Hispanic pupils (23.8 percent) dropped out during the 2007-08 school year compared to 18.9 percent of youngsters overall in California.
That figure from the California Department of Education represents a four-year adjusted rate and also the first time officials say they have been able to determine a true drop-out rate.
According to a recent study by The Nielsen Company, which analyzes the cell phone bills of more than 60,000 people in the United States each month, African Americans talk and text significantly more than other races.
On average African Americans used more than 1,300 minutes of talk time per month. Hispanics were a not-so-close second with 826 minutes; Asians/Pacific Islanders were third with 692 minutes, and last were Whites with 647 minutes of talk time per month.
The California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE) results for this year’s graduating class of 2010 show that 94.5 percent of students who were tested passed the test within a three-year period.
The CAHSEE is a statewide public high school graduation requirement that was implemented for the 2006 graduating class, which tests students on English and Mathematics.
LOS ANGELES, Calif.—Robert Zimmerman, whose brother, George, is awaiting trial on a charge of second-degree murder in the shooting death of African American teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, told a Southland television station today that his family is not racist.
“I’m trying to re-introduce our family in the right light,” Zimmerman said in an interview on Fox 11.
George Zimmerman, 28, is free on bail and awaiting trial in the Feb. 26 shooting death. He has acknowledged shooting Martin but maintains he acted in self defense.
Jury deliberations will continue in the trial of Donald Bottoms, Christopher Shrauger, Steven Burns and Christopher Crews, four inmates charged with murder and conspiracy in a race riot that left a Black inmate dead at a county jail facility in Castaic recently. Four other inmates, David Reynoso, Osbaldo Valenzuela, Enrique Reyes and Andres Madrigal, are also charged.