Somebody complained to city authorities when 13-year old Jaequan Faulkner opened a hot dog stand in front of his family’s Minneapolis home.
The complaint echoes a zillion stories seen this year when people — white folks, in many instances — expressed outrage over African-Americans doing run-of-the-mill things, and called the police or other government officials to shut them down.
But that’s not what happened, at least not this time.
The enterprising teen had opened his fledgling business, “Mr. Faulkner’s Old-Fashioned Hot Dogs,” looking for something to keep him occupied during the summer, and presumably to earn a little pocket money — the ordinary kind of thing that kids do in the summer.
It seems that city officials were able to figure that out and decided to help Jaequan, rather than being a hindrance.
Jaequan Faulkner set up a hot dog stand outside his Minnesota home, but someone reported the 13-year-old boy for operating without a license. That's when the state stepped in. https://t.co/iZWfOTPpIy
— AP Central U.S. (@APCentralRegion) July 19, 2018
After the Minneapolis Department of Health investigated the complaint, it not only allowed the hotdog stand to remain open, but inspectors decided to pitch in to help pay the $87 for the permit, Minnesota Public Radio reported.
Then the department’s environmental health director Daniel Huff got in touch with a local non-profit, Northside Economic Opportunity Network, which gave the teen instructions on running a business and keeping his food stand clean.
Jaequan began operating his hot dog business with all of the requisite licensing last week, selling hot dogs and bratwurst.
“I was actually kind of surprised, because usually I would have one person at a time help me, but then with so many people coming at once, I’m like, wow. I realized how much people enjoy it,” he told Minnesota Public Radio (MPR).
Deandre Harrison of St. Cloud, who stopped by the hot dog stand, told MPR that he was kind of impressed with the kid’s business acumen.
“He has a cash register, he’s got receipts. He seems like a very intelligent kid with a bright future ahead of him,” he said. “You don’t see many of him at 13 years old with that mindset.”
All the good feels of this feel-good story are kept in check, though, when you do a quick mental inventory of all the other times — many of them just over the past several weeks — when the outcomes have not been so heartwarming.
Like the time a few days back, when a black San Francisco businessman who had just opened a fancy lemonade store was questioned by police in front of his own establishment as he was opening up for the day. It appears that someone in the neighborhood assumed he was a burglar trying to break into the store.
There have been a litany of other such incidents. Like the time the woman called police on a black girl selling water.
And the time another woman called police on a black man for wearing socks.
And the time police responded to a neighbor’s complaints when a black lawmaker was canvassing her constituents door to door.
And so many other times.
Still, for now, let’s take heart about the kid in Minneapolis and his hot dog stand, and hope it’s a harbinger of better things.