Black Friday Needs to be About Black People

by Dr. Boyce Watkins,  Your Black World – Scholarship in Action 

Most of us know all about “Black Friday.” That’s the commercially-conceived holiday when we act a fool in order to get a few discounts on things that we probably don’t even need. I’ve never quite understood the fascination with waking up at 3 am on a cold winter day and fighting with people to break into a building so I could just give away all of my money; it’s kinda like begging someone to rob you.

As a Finance Professor, I think about money for a living. One thing I’ve learned is that in a capitalist democracy, money is POWER. Given that African Americans transfer billions in wealth out of our communities every single year, we are draining the economic blood from our collective veins and giving it away to the people who are determined to continue to control us.  It’s one thing to have your freedom taken away from you, but another to volunteer yourself for financial slavery every single year.

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider how we spend our money, especially on a day like Black Friday, where billions are spent within hours, with almost none of that money coming back to us.

I’m not here to judge those who love the shopping Olympics that take place on Black Friday. But the thing is that some of “us” tend to desire the things that are bad for us: machine guns, malt liquor, sneakers that cost more than our mama earns in a week, and music from hip-hop artists who tell us to go to the club and throw money up in the air.

Black people are the ultimate consumers. We set world records on the number of ridiculous ways we can waste our money, and it’s killing us financially: We don’t own a damn thing, our family wealth levels are just a fraction of that of whites, our businesses end up failing and many of us leave our children nothing but debt after we die.

While most of us are aware of the stereotypes, we also know that there are millions of African Americans are who looking for a better way to do things.  In fact, I’d argue that this group is slowly becoming the rule, rather than the exception.  Yes, there is ignorance in our community, but our legacy is one that also inspires greatness.  We are smarter than our circumstances.

Black Friday and Christmas are tremendous opportunities to turn the tide.

Since the addiction to spending on Black Friday and during the Christmas holidays can be strong, baby steps might be appropriate. I argue that every person reading this article should spend no less than 20% of their Black Friday and Christmas money with black-owned businesses. That way, if you go broke, at least you know you went broke supporting a child in your own community, and not helping one of Sam Walton’s kids buy a bigger yacht.

If you need help on this, our Ujamaa Initiative to support black businesses can be joined for free by clicking this link. It’s time for a change, and if we don’t empower ourselves, no one else will. Let’s reclaim the word “black” in “Black Friday,” and make this a day that belongs to “us.”

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Finance Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr. Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here. 



Filed under African Americans

10 responses to “Black Friday Needs to be About Black People

  1. val roberts

    Wow, i can’t believe what i just read. Dr.Boyce Watkins, i have a different take on this article. This is my angle. Black Friday shopping spree should be boycotted by all Blacks because of the word Black assiociated with the Friday. As an African living in Europe, i find it difficult to believe, it’s just a coincidence that most of the negative aspects in the society i live in begins with the word Black e.g. Zwart werk,Zwart riden, Zwart geld and a lot of other Zwart(s) i wouldn’t want to bother you with. Please, go to google for translation. So, my question is this,Why not Sad Friday or Bad Friday?

    Bro, we should stop being artificial and have a spiritual mind-set that can help us unravel the genesis and motives behind these titles. Not until then,we will keep on chasing shadows of issues like this, instead of exposing and correcting it.

    In conclusion, the title of this article should have been WHY BLACKS SHOU

  2. iamwell2

    val roberts, “black” is a polysemous word and to be “in the black” when it comes to finance in a capitalistic economy, is a good thing. we are playing with “black,” a linguistic site of much contestation, but i am in agreement with dr. watkins. we need to support our communities, spend money in our communities, all in the spirit of ujamaa-collective economics.

    i also understand the experience you discuss that posits “blackness” as something completely aberrant and undesirable and i urge you to consider the systems of reasoning that spawn the negative perspectives and utterances of blackness, which is not about black at all.

  3. Pingback: Black Friday Needs to be About Black People « The Industry Cosign

  4. How about we boycott Black Friday because we really need to be more wise with our money instead of spending it on worthless material possessions.

  5. D Heimann

    Why does the African American community have to always think that when the word “Black” is used, it is used in a negative way towards them? Black Friday has NOTHING to do with the color of your skin. It’s about being in the POSITIVE in the books!! It’s about the retailers actually MAKING a profit, or being in the BLACK, not RED! Get your damned facts together first before you post some idiotic article like this, and make everything about the color and not the actuality of the Day. Hey, guess what Dr. Watkins, us White people spend too much money on crap on Black Friday as well. You’d be doing a better service to the community at large if you were proposing that EVERYONE stopped spending money on items they don’t actually need.

  6. black people should avoid xmas and thanksgiving altogether. thanksgiving was only for the pilgrims who slaughtered hundreds of native americans and celebrated it. and xmas is about worshipping some benign kid in dec.

  7. I have advocated for years that “Black Friday” and Christmas SPENDING should be boycotted. As brother Boyce pointed out, for the “obvious” socio- politico and financial reasoning but, as well as, that history has proven boycotts are viable and successful weapons for CHANGE. The Montgomery Bus Boycott is prime example. However, this tactic requires sacrifice and dedication which, we the people, seem to be sorely lacking.

  8. Are you concerned that your rhetoric stirs up hatred of white people?

    At first, you describe the “bad guys” as “the people who are determined to continue to control [African Americans],” financially enslaving you; who are responsible for “almost none of that money coming back to [African Americans].” Who, exactly, is doing that?

    Couldn’t be black people; after all, this is money you transfer “out of our communities every single year… draining the economic blood from our collective veins.”

    By the end of the article, it’s pretty clear. The way to stop them, you say, is that “every person reading this article should spend no less than 20% of their Black Friday and Christmas money with black-owned businesses.”

    So the problem was white people all along. White people are determined to control you, and take your freedom away, and steal your money. And if you buy from white businesses, why, you’d just be helping white kids (ew).

    Have I got that right?

  9. Ebony

    I don’t see what the point is about Black Friday anyway, they have sales all year long.

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