While you’re out here exercising your human right to express your rage and voice your feelings of fear, loss, and helplessness in the face of yet another one of our children lost to the trigger-happy police, I invite you to exercise another right: the right to not contribute to a capitalist system that has no love for you. The right to not add another frivolous dollar to the prosperity of a country that places no value on Black life.
In just a few days from now, we will celebrate “Black Friday,” traditionally a day when Black folks across the country line up in the dark outside Walmart, Best Buy and wherever else flat screens and iPads are sold. Many of us have saved up for months in anticipation of this day, a precursor to a holiday, that if we’re lucky, we’ll spend eating and drinking and otherwise being merry with loved ones near and far.
Except that many of our Black boys and men won’t be coming home this year. For hundreds of grieving families, there will be an empty seat at the dinner table. Wives will mourn their husbands, mothers will mourn their sons and children will mourn their fathers — one less loved one to give a gift to.
And so I say if we can’t buy gifts for our fallen soldiers let’s not buy them at all. Let’s fall back from a day of shopping and turn Black Friday into a symbol of both our pain and our promise. And by promise I mean the quantifiable impact that our collective action will have on the malls and online portals throughout America—because when we run out buy what they sell us, they then have the power to dominate us. Let’s join campaigns like #BlackOut and #NotOneDime.
Financial unity is where our true strength lies. Not rioting or burning down stores, and not marching, even though I believe in that. Not prayer, because as every Christian knows faith without works is dead, and not protesting because each time our sons are killed our cries fall on deaf judicial ears. The only thing that’s ever really worked was unifying the way we did during the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the 1950s. That 13-month mass protest — where people put their money where their mouths were — ended in a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregation on public buses is unconstitutional.
Clearly boycotting Black Friday will not fix our situation overnight, but it will help us begin to restore our unity and discipline, while addressing our critical need to send a message and move effectively as a community. I’m not addressing the naysayers here – the folks who always want to talk about how we need to do something but as soon as an opportunity rolls around they stick their heads in the ground. Frankly, I don’t care if just 200 people wind up not shopping on Friday, because that’s 200 civic-minded people who responded to the call for respect and unity.
As you may know the first principle of Kwanzaa is umoja, which means unity, and the third is ujima, which is to make our brother’s and sister’s problems our problems and solve them together. Well, here’s our chance: boycotting Black Friday is about taking our trillion-dollar status and, for the first time, doing something meaningful with it—pushing back on the status quo.
Put your wallet away this Black Friday in the name of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown – the list goes on and on, but it doesn’t have to. Do it in the name of the countless brothers, fathers and sons who will never get to see another day. Do it for yourself. Do it for us all.