McDonald’s: The Juxtaposition of Violence and Service

Employees of this building painted this sign years ago when the location first opened in hopes of portraying a future for the neighborhood founded on respect. The location fostered a great deal of economic success, and brought jobs to the area in a time of great prosperity. However, as things began to take a turn for the worse, this restaurant became the centerpiece of a neighborhood in need of revival.
McDonald’s, a restaurant associated with quick, barely edible, cheap food, lies nestled between the Brooklyn College campus and the Flatbush Avenue, Nostrand Avenue Junction. In this photograph, we see the famous golden arches, which are synonymous with McDonald’s across the country. We see barbed wire, hanging over a sign with the words: “Cleanliness, Service, and Quality.” These words, while not descriptive with the McDonald’s many people experience, apply even less to the establishment on Hillel Place.
The brutal reality of this image lies in the contrast between the violence and service at McDonald’s restaurants in Brooklyn. Just three weeks ago at this McDonald’s, a young man, 18 years old, was gunned down in broad daylight. Two other locations in East Flatbush have had similar instances in the past three months. These shootings have been motivated by police violence or gang activity, and only demoralize members of the community who have been fighting for change. Snapshot NYC forces to look at not only the beauty of New York City, but also the problems, which it will be our responsibility to address.
These acts of violence bring attention to the rampant negligence that occurs in certain lower income neighborhoods. Residents are forced to resort to fast food restaurants due to little or no access or means to purchase healthier food. These concerns lead to epidemics such as obesity, malnutrition, and fast food addiction. This photograph does not reveal the struggle of many of the employees of McDonald’s restaurant. Their struggle to feed themselves and a family on a wage of $7.25 an hour embodies the very essence of the lower class struggle. Therefore, when choosing a place to eat, families ask themselves, “Why pay more than $1 for a sandwich at a grocery store.” This epidemic of malnutrition is propagated by venues like McDonald’s and other standard fare at the Junction, such as Popeye’s, or Burger King.
This photograph does not portray the homeless man that holds the door open for you every night in hopes of getting a few spare nickels. Instead, this portrays symbols of an epidemic of violence. The gang tags, which lie beneath the mural, paint a picture of a group marking its territory. A seemingly useless strand of barbed wire guards the words emblazoned on the side of the building. However, this projects a powerful correlation between the violence of the neighborhood, contrasted against the ideas of cleanliness, service, and quality. Perhaps this symbolizes the future of America as a whole. While originally founded on an ideal of high aspirations, some have lost sight of what makes this country great. There are those protesting in Wall Street now trying to overcome the barriers they feel have been placed upon them. Just as there is great turmoil and contrast in this photograph, this same idea is reflected in the social climate of today’s America. There have been many great things accomplished, however, there are still many more to come.