#BlackOutBlackFriday: If You Can’t Get It At A Black Business, You Don’t Need It
“We must redistribute the pain” is one of the many messages hitting African American consumers over the holiday in a push to boycott Black Friday and holiday spending. Pain is something, we, living in this Black skin know much about at this time in America.
On November 25, 2014, Ferguson’s Michael Brown verdict was aired and now a year later LaQuan McDonald can be seen on our television and computer screens being shot 16 times by a Chicago police officer. It is as if Black death will blanket our holidays.
Not that we needed another death on video to remind us, but at the rate America is going, if we don’t start taking extreme actions we won’t have kids to buy gifts for. Last year, retail stores saw an 11 percent dip in sales and organizers are hoping for an even greater impact this year.
The New York Justice League, a key organizer of this year’s 20th Anniversary Million Man March and one of the many organizations calling for the boycott, broke down why the boycott is a must, how it will be beneficial and the right alternative of shopping with Black businesses.
Mysonne Linen has been a member of the Justice League for a little over a year and can be seen from marches to detention centers working against police brutality and the mass incarceration of our youth. Linen is also a father of three who’s retraining his children’s minds on consumerism this season.
“Most of us have children and they don’t really understand, of course, but the messaging is if you can’t find what you need at a Black business, then you don’t need it. If you cant find it with Black and Brown businesses where you know the dollar will circulate within our community, then we can just sit down and celebrate Christ this Christmas and have conversations with your children and simply love on each other,” Linen stated.
He went on to point out that many often cannot truly afford the holiday spending put into this season in first place.
“We’ve become so brainwashed with consumerism. They want to keep us sleep, so they can keep us sheep and that’s what’s happening at this point.”
The support for Black and Brown businesses is one often raised when it comes to boycotting mainstream corporations, and for good cause. The Black spending power is set to hit $1.3 trillion dollars and yet only about two cents of every dollar returns to Black-owned businesses.
That is what inspired Mandy Bowman, CEO of OfficialBlackWallStreet.com to launch her venture, a directory and online publication focused on Black businesses. Bowman believes the racial climate has much to do with the growth in traffic she’s witnessed after just launching in July.
“People are looking for alternatives and we see that it actually works when we protest with our money. I feel people are finally waking up to that,” Bowman said.
One Detroit father, John Eagan, said he will definitely be keeping his money in his community if he plans to do any spending. Eagan is also the owner of a small business, thesankofahshoppe.com, and has been active in social justice changes in the city.
“Black people are looking for a long-term plan and Black businesses are becoming more accessible. In Michigan, we are starting to see more Black-owned coops, grocery stores and other general stores open that provide the basics (think tissue and the like) from Black distributors,” he explained.
What does boycotting stores have to do with seeking justice?
Linen said it has everything to do with it, as many of these corporations have the power to impact change in our government and communities.
“These corporations help fund the jails that over-imprison us, these are the corporations that fund the lawmaking status. They sit down and pay these lawmakers and lobby for them.
“If you take your money out, they then realize the only way they are able to make money is if they pay attention to the needs of Black people, because we are the ones funding them. Then we can sit down and have a conversation.
Nielsen found that African Americans make an average of 156 shopping trips per year, compared to just 146 for the total market.
Bowman also echoed the fact that many of these corporations we pour our hard-earned dollars into are doing little for Black and brown communities.
“There are so many businesses who are under fire for racial profiling or lack of diversity and I would hope they would make more of an effort to put more money back into the Black community and more diversity in their offices and more representation.”
Most boycotts have a set of demands… Does #BlackOutBlackFriday?GatheringForJustice.org
The Justice League set forth a list of 10 demands they have been pushing for the past year. Five of those 10 include:
- The immediate firing of Officer Daniel Pantaleo and all officers responsible for the death of Eric Garner.
- The city/state of NY draft a legislation to clarify the rules of engagement between the police and community to make the us of lethal force illegal.
- NYC to create a comprehensive NYPD training program.
- An end to the criminalization of young people in the NYC school system.
- Immediate passage of the Right to Know Act.
The NY Justice League has already been successful in getting some of their demands met, such as having the state appoint a special prosecutor to investigate and prosecute all criminal cases involving the use of force by police officers.
Many other organizations are also presenting their local governing bodies with demands for change, some of those include:
- A new prosecutor in Ohio’s Tamir Rice murder case after the shooting was declared “objectively reasonable.”
- Minneapolis’ Police Department releasevideo of Jamar Clark’s death.
- Demand for all details to be released in Texas’ Sandra Bland case.
Who to Boycott?
Most organizations understand your need for gas, food and the vitals. However, you may be able to find a Black-owned coop in your area. If not, it’s the extra unnecessary spending to cut back from, i.e. The Target, Macy’s, Best Buy deals many think they must cash in on.
“We all have to make sacrifices just like our ancestors made countless sacrifices so we can have the privileges we have,” Eagan stated. “I’m sure that that TV can wait this year to make sure our grandkids and their grandkids live in a better society.”
Doesn’t this have to go on longer to have a real impact?The UrbanCusp.com is another organization pushing for the holiday boycott.
Of course it does.
“You have do something one time and show people, look this is the effect it could have, ‘we see how you gained so we will do this every year’” Linen said on his hope for participation to grow over time.
Both Eagan and Linen mentioned a possible separation might be necessary, such as creating the old successful Black Wall Street or a “Black Belt” within the United States, as one of the many goals of seeding our money back into our own communities.
What’s it going to take for America to change?
Scarily enough, all activists and business owners agreed that something drastic will have to occur for a real change to be seen. Whether that be a complete overthrow of the U.S. government or a Black nationalistic reorganization, many believe true change can only happen with a breakdown of our current system.
“Throughout history, in every empire there was a fall. The fall of the Roman empire, the Trojan empire – wars because the government and status quo no longer fit the needs of the people,” Linen said.
“If you look at our society, people are naturally awakening. It’s going to be very hard to continue in this system as it is. I don’t know how long it’s going to take but you see everyday there’s an awakening in Black and Brown people – breaking out of the matrix, so to speak. We have to change that narrative.
Believe it or not, we can do that with our dollar.
Would you be willing to do a long-term boycott with your money? What demands do you have?