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.”