EDITORIAL: The Meaning of Black Friday

It is interesting to discover how someone or something got its name. Was there a particular person or a special event or a special day that gave rise to that name? Next week, the day after Thanksgiving is “Black Friday,” a two-word phrase that means just about the same to everybody. Black Friday signals the direction for consumers to “Go Buy Something.” It’s one of the most profitable days of the year and is to the retail industry what bamboo is to a panda. It brings frantic energy to the economy, causing a frenzy among shoppers who go out and spend marking the kickoff the Christmas holiday shopping season.

Black Friday wasn’t always viewed positively, however. It once described the negative feelings on-duty police officers had for a day marked by annoying traffic jams, crowded sidewalks and overcrowded stores. Meanwhile, employees took the day off to shop and to enjoy a rare, four-day holiday. Thus, Black Friday became popular.

Its popularity still comes with a cost, sometimes lives. The popular shopping day is marred by reports of violence, including murders. Incidents of Black Friday shoppers being trampled and killed by stampeding crowds in malls, shopping centers and parking lots have also been reported. But it gets worse. Astonishing is the negative story that alleges Black Friday got its name from the day after Thanksgiving when white slave owners offered discounts on the sale of Black slaves. One can only imagine how that may have contributed to the economy. However, we’re unsure of its validity.

One thing that is true: Black consumers can give Black Friday its own meaning and some already have. They define it as the day to buy Black — a day to only buy from Black-owned businesses. It makes sense, especially when days have been given to other consumer causes, such as Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday or Giving Tuesday.

So, we’d like to offer our own definition. Make Black Friday the day to give. Make it the day you donate, or pledge to volunteer, to a Black organization that supports a cause important to you. We know it’s in Black people to do so. It was the only way we funded the building of our homes, churches, schools, colleges and universities, businesses and towns.

Let’s make Black Friday mean something to Blacks.

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