By Ron Daniels
NNPA Guest Columnist
The Christmas season provides an excellent opportunity for Africans in America to engage in a season of resistance. The corporate retail establishment in this country is heavily dependent upon this season for consumers to participate in a frenzy of buying to buttress their bottom line. The unofficial kick-off of the “shop until you drop” season is the Friday after Thanksgiving, which called Black Friday. This is the day corporate retail giants begin an all out effort to induce, seduce, bribe and otherwise “persuade” consumers to buy enough goods to enable companies to “break into the black” – achieve profitability for the year.
Unfortunately, the sons and daughters of formerly enslaved Africans in America, who complain about the oppressive conditions of stop-and-frisk, joblessness, the War on Drugs, crime, violence, fratricide and the murder of unarmed Black men such as Trayvon Martin and Black women such as Renisha McBride are not immune to the seductive appeal of the Christmas season. On Black Friday – actually, Thanksgiving afternoon – Black consumers will lineup with liberated White folks in the reckless race to give our hard earned/precious dollars to the oppressor. We are addicted. We must educate and organize to kick the habit.
Collectively, Black people continue to be neglected, disrespected, disregarded and abused because we have become too tame, tolerant and even accepting of our oppression. This is not to say that there is no fight-back or resistance. The problem is that we lack a “critical mass,” a much larger number of Black people, who are sufficiently enraged and outraged, to act decisively to promote and protect/defend our interests and aspirations. This is the challenge we must overcome.
Black Friday should mark a critical point of resistance for Black people, a time when Black consumers utilize the billions of dollars in our hands as a weapon to advance the Black freedom struggle. I have often said if Black people would commit to “keeping Christ in Christmas,” focus on the spiritual and family aspects of the season and consciously refuse to participate in the senseless buying frenzy, the White Corporate establishment would come running, asking what concessions they should make to end the economic sanctions.
Black people have more than 1 trillion dollars of consumer buying power in our hands. The question is whether we have the consciousness, commitment and discipline to use it to promote and defend Black interests.
There is no better time to renew a spirit of resistance than the present. Black people all across the nation should resolve to buy Black on Black Friday. At a minimum, Black people should seek out Black businesses and purchase as many gifts as possible from them to bolster the Black economy.
Veteran activists, including Bob Law, have long advocated Support Black Business Days to encourage Black consumers to shop at Black stores. He is advocating a similar campaign this year. In addition, Black communities can organize Black Expos on Black Friday where scores of Black vendors and businesses can be assembled under one roof to display their wares for sale.
For example, in New York, under the visionary leadership of Rev. Dennis Dillon, the Emancipation 2013 Freedom Coalition is organizing a two day Black Friday Expo November 29 and 30 at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. This kind of Expo could become a model for Black communities nationwide. The Support Black Business Days and Black Expo events exemplify the first principle of the utilization of Black consumer power – Black dollars should be used to support Black businesses and entrepreneurs as a means of building a strong economic infrastructure to employ Black people.
The second principle of the utilization of Black consumer power is that companies/corporations that depend on Black dollars must be compelled to reinvest in Black communities. Black dollars should be used as leverage with businesses and corporations that depend on Black consumer dollars. It is reasonable to expect and demand that businesses and corporations that we patronize reinvest dollars back into the Black community in the form of jobs, advertisement in Black media, sponsorships and contributions to worthy causes. And, we should not accept peanuts or chump change in exchange for the massive dollars we spend, enriching businesses and corporations owned by interests external to the Black community.
Our inner-city neighborhoods are dying for lack of jobs and investment. Therefore, we cannot permit businesses to grow fat off our dollars without demanding reinvestment in our communities. Those who refuse to do so must face the wrath of economic sanctions – and there is no better time to target offending businesses/corporations than the Christmas season when their profitability depends on Black dollars.
As the corporate retail establishment prepares to launch the Christmas season, let us transform it into a season of resistance — Remember Trayvon Martin: Boycott Florida….Buy Black on “Black Friday.”
Ron Daniels is president of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century and Distinguished Lecturer at York College City University of New York. To send a message, arrange media interviews or speaking engagements, he can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org