(Source: RT America)
Every year, that glorious fourth Thursday of November brings families together at the dinner table to feast. As loved ones gather from far and wide, we wring our hands in anticipation of the great kickoff to the holiday season. Many hands go to work, mashing potatoes, slicing turkey, and crimping perfect edges onto pumpkin pies as we, as a nation, beam and rejoice in our
continued colonization humble thankfulness.
Bellies full and bodies running on enough carbs to fuel a semi, we take to department stores with credit cards ready to take on the burden of the holidays and fists ready to take on anyone who gets in the way. This blur of commercialism and forced ignorance to the previous day’s praising of humility and gratitude, we call Black Friday.
Every year, Black Friday brings a third of the nation into the shopping craze, with many praising this pseudo-holiday as not only an essential aspect of the giving season, but one that takes prowess and skill to navigate.
And in reflecting on last Friday’s record-breaking shopping craze, I’m going to ask you to stop. Stop. Stop. Stop. Stop “celebrating” Black Friday, right now (Well I guess technically next year, but you get the point).
Here are 3 big reasons why we should protest Black Friday and turn this holiest-of-all consumer holidays into a day of resistance:
1. It’s Just Immoral
There is nothing more contradictory than spending an entire day under the guise of being thankful for everything we have and then turning around and literally, not figuratively, literally beating someone up to buy a new flatscreen.
This year, Black Friday instigated shootings in Chicago and Las Vegas, fights in New Jersey, and bomb threats in White Plains, NY. Swaths of violence between shoppers and with the police spread like wildfire across the nation. The media picks up on these stories, typically blowing them out of proportion and seizing on another opportunity to sensationalize violence.
We know the absurdity that comes along with this day. It happens each and every single year. We make it happen.
By choosing to protest this day, we send a message that human life and wellness are more important than iPhones, that gratitude is more essential than a new laptop, and that there are better ways to show our loved ones that we care than showering profits on big business during the holidays.
2. It Kills Small Businesses
Not all businesses benefit from Black Friday. In fact, the vast majority of the $57.4 billion spent this past Friday went to major corporations including Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and Best Buy. This major economic boost, driven by consumer demand for bargain prices, brings in huge profits for some of the world’s most profitable corporations, leaving small businesses unable to compete with plummeting prices.
Many small businesses have begun to fight back through the development of Small Business Saturday. Since 2010, collections of small businesses across the nation stage a smaller scale bargain day to pull in holiday shoppers on the day following Black Friday.
While I do not necessarily support the whole consumer-driven holiday spirit thing, Small Business Saturday presents an opportunity to resist Wall St. and support Main St. If you can’t resist buying on Thanksgiving weekend, at least funnel some resistance into the way that you buy.
By channeling money into small businesses rather than big businesses, we help to maintain the mom and pop shops that define our economy and bring systems of accountability and economic prosperity back to the community level.
3. We Should Be Supporting Workers Instead
This past Friday, organizers associated with Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart) staged protests at over 1,500 Wal-Mart locations across the U.S., demanding living wages for, improved treatment of, and accountability to employees of the largest private employer in the world.
On this consumer holiday, OUR Walmart called on the nation to recognize that the way we spend our money matters. Each dollar we spend does not simply result in the consumption of more goods, but is in fact a political act. Each dollar spent lends both economic and political support to the recipient. In this case, each dollar spent at Wal-Mart or any other company that fails to meet the needs of their workers or to respect the needs of their environment, in effect, supports that failure.
As consumers, we wield power in our dollar. This issue is complex and many socioeconomic inequalities and privileges complicate the ability to choose where one spends that dollar, however, each and every consumer maintains the right to demand the best of those who we buy from. In fact, we are the demand.
If we choose to exercise this power differently, if we choose to resist the consumerism of Black Friday, we might have the honor of standing in solidarity with the thousands of Wal-Mart employees and ex-employees who put everything on the line for justice.
Author: Mara Dauber