Holiday Unrest: Boycotts, Small Business & Black Friday
In the wake of Monday nights clearing of Mike Brown murderer Darren Wilson, the collective energies of the people, especially the Black community has been directed toward finding actions that will let the nation know just how powerful we are and how much you need to be taken us seriously. In the 24 hours since the Ferguson jury elected not to indict Wilson I’ve been having a number of conversations about what to do next. I have people pushing to boycott in one ear and others who work in and with the retail world not sure how to move. It’s not as cut and dry as many people think it is.
Let me dive into this and touch on a few things. Understand this isn’t a directive on what you should do. I believe there are many paths to the destination we all want to reach. We all play different roles and operate in different spaces so our actions may not all be the same.
In regards to boycotts I’ve seen a few things being pushed like #NotOneDime. The general campaign missions I’ve noticed are a call to boycott all businesses, all retail during this holiday weekend that consists of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. I’ve heard a few goals mentioned but the most prevalent seems to be a desire to make a statement with the power of the “Black Dollar”. It’s reported that entering 2015 we’ll be generating roughly a trillion dollars of buying power. It’s not a new piece of info but coupled with this time of year it resonates a little more.
The statements being shared are very well intended and do have a ring of truth to them. “Lets hit’em where it hurts”, “Let your dollar speak for you”, etc,etc….Yes ideally that is possible but my concern comes from a few areas. The majority of these calls to action are vague, generic and lack the detail and full leadership needed to make them effective on multiple levels.
First there is its duration. Exactly what is the hope and goal of this 3-4 day campaign. Is it meant to have a lasting effect or just act as an attention grabber? Folk reference the Montgomery Bus Boycott as what this boycott should look to as inspiration. The MBB lasted over a year and it was specific and direct to a sole target within a confined area. What stores in this present day mission are folk targeting? Is it Just the majors like Target, Best Buy or Walmart? What qualifies a store to be targeted? Is it just any place of business? After the weekend ends does the shopping return? Do folk understand just how much boycotting it takes to hit a companies’ bottom line? What of the workers that look forward to additional holiday hours? They are the first and most expandable when financial stability is threatened so those are just a few areas of detail I need to see clarified before a plan is put in motion.
Next we have the matter of small businesses. I’m an entrepreneur and operate within a network of other small business owners. Are we including them in this boycott. From what I’ve seen posted many are not making a distinction as to indie vs mainstream businesses. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I’m taking this stance as I feature small business every year during this season. These brands need the commerce of the upcoming weekend so it matters to me that in our emotional push for action we don’t negatively impact our own.
Personally I care little for statements or emotional victories. Change is needed. Truthfully the matter of Police Brutality doesn’t make me jump to commerce and boycotts but if a well laid plan is presented I could see and support it. Also, there is the thinking that in boycotting we will reduce money that is going to fund entities like the police who have brutalized us. If you work, every dollar you earn is taxed so your financial support is flowing into the system regardless.
I make no bones about it and will not hide the fact. Within my business I work very directly with retail stores, many of which would fall within this boycott. I just dropped a piece on mobile apps to aid you with your Black Friday shopping. I’m a part of the system which I don’t apologize for. We can be many things and that aspect of business is part of me.
Will I be boycotting this weekend? No I won’t be. I’m not opposed to it but it’s not the move I’m making. It’s not for some sick desire to shop or get savings I could get at any other time. I have a plan for how I will approach this weekend and I have no issue sticking to it. I won’t be shopping on Black Friday but that is because I’ll be working day & night gigs. My economic statement will be made though featuring and supporting small businesses that you can buy from throughout the weekend. Saturday I will be shopping at outlets for a few personal items along with things for my family. Those that know my struggles and growth professionally over the last year should understand where I’m at with this.
I was at the last rally for Mike Brown in Union Square just as I was with the multiple rallies for Trayvon. It was a moving gathering but it reached a point where any and everyone was being allowed to speak and too many ideas, too many “we need to do…” statements were being thrown out and it became a jumble. Lets really organize, strategically lay out a long-term plan and execute. You know what they say about insanity and repetition. We say the same things every time
Many of us think there is a one shot option to successful change. We want to think that if we ball up our collective fist and strike one mighty blow everything wrong will just crumble. Unfortunately It doesn’t work like that. Folk have to be in it for the 12 round fight with a 12 round plan of attack. There’s no 1 Hitter Quitter, Mike Tyson Knock Out punch in this. We’re all sick of the nonsense so let’s finally do something about it.