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OBG: b&b79 Why You Should Boycott Black Friday

Whether or not you shop on ‪#‎blackfriday, how do the ‪#‎blackoutblackfriday boycotts affect you? What does it look like to vote with your dollars? Listen to Dyalekt and Pam on this Oldie but Goodie and learn how to be a more ‪‎conscious consumer and human being, now and at any time of the year.

Music Featured:

Black Friday by Typical Black Punks

Colours by Kid Marley ft Tehila

Eighty-Six by Preach Muzak

Episode Highlights:

Pam: This whole black Friday thing has become a huge four-day event.

Pam: Last year, it started with Ferguson, protesting Black Friday. A big part of the reason why is because Black Friday preys upon poor people and people of color.

Pam: I think a big part of is because we are realizing that we need to start voting with our dollars.

Dyalekt: In your head, can you think of a boycott that worked? I bet you probably can’t and that’s something that is really interesting. Because we will tell you that there are a number of boycotts that worked. Boycotts work, but if you go by, I guess Common Sense, front page of the news type thinking it sounds like a thing that doesn’t.

Pam: It is very different from protests too. If you are equating the two in your head, they’ve been linked but they are different. There is more action involved in boycotts. I think there is a little bit of just giving up something that is a little bit difficult to give up that comes with boycotting and doing it anyway. 

Pam: Black Friday is not a good day in the stock market, September 24, 1869 was called black Friday. It was one of the very first stock market crashes in the history of the stock market. It was caused by gold speculators. They attempted to corner the gold market and the gold market collapsed. 1869 yall, that was the first Black Friday and it had nothing to do with waiting in line at Walmart.

Dyalekt: But it had to do with greed because people are all about that gold. 

Pam: Putting black in front of a day used to describe disastrous days in the financial markets. Black Tuesday in 1929, the beginning of the Great Depression. Black Monday in October 1987, when the Dow Jones plummeted 22%. Black Friday has been a term in the financial world and investment world for a very, very long time. It is only recently when black Friday became a term for what stores and consumer goods places started using to say, it’s the day that we get in the black!

Pam: Black Friday in general is something that polarizing people. People love just talking shit about people who wait in line for Black Friday. It has become a media spectacle and is basically free advertising for the corporations and the stores who are involved. Whatever the news is, what often happens is we end up villainizing the people who are shopping and not the corporations who are creating this environment. We just want to remind yall, yo, Black Friday is NOT for you. It is designed to bring out the worst in you as a person, no matter how much money you have this animal instinct comes out while they create this false sense of scarcity.

Dyalekt: That false scarcity is that old school, treating you like a sucker stuff.

Pam: One thing that I realized doing all of this research and focusing on the numbers is numbers don’t matter as much as anecdotes. In Chicago this year, the protests got to the point where one luxury store manager actually said on the record anonymously that the effects were “obviously bad for us”. What they were seeing instead of stores being packed with shoppers, they were seeing sparsely occupied stores and protestors wandering along the stores.

Pam: Visibly, that’s what matters, and I feel like at the end of the day people are taking notice and it’s amazing to see the response on both ends in terms of how people are reacting to it. So, we are going to dig a little bit more into that.

Dyalekt: This is how boycotts end up working. You don’t hear about people who boycott a thing and 50% of people in the country decide to stop shopping at this place. It is that they make a large impact that is visible, that puts shame on the company where they either realize that they’ve been doing something wrong or they realize that people think that they are doing something wrong, so they change their ways. 

Pam: A lot of stores are saying, we’re not opening on Thanksgiving. We’re letting our employees go home and spend time with their families on Thanksgiving because we care. One of the big things that came out of this was, it turns out that someone did a survey that 65% of consumers actually hate or dislike the trend of stores opening on Thanksgiving. 

Dyalekt: Thanksgiving is known as one of the few federal holidays where you are going to go and sit down and eat food with your family. You know how important and rare that can be in this ultra-focused on work and career society. So, when people mess with that, folks get heated and rightfully so.

Pam: The funny thing is the next day on Black Friday, all bets are off.

Pam: Let’s talk about why boycotts work and why they don’t. You really need a boycott that 1, has discipline, 2, has the power of widespread appeal, and 3, it needs to have a large enough effect on economics and the consumption rate for people to take notice. 

Pam: You feel the effects in two different ways. There is direct effects and indirect effects. The direct effects are obviously the bottom line. The indirect effects are the actual sentiment toward corporation, company, or store. The reputation that ultimately leads to long term change is the indirect effect that boycotting has. If we look at the numbers, the buying power of black people in general, a 2015 Nielsen report states that by 2019 the buying power of black people will be $1.4 trillion. 

Pam: 43 million black consumers in the US. That’s huge. They watch more television, they shop more, they purchase more beauty and ethnic products, they read more financial magazines, they spend twice the amount of time on websites, they make more shopping trips per year than the average America. It is a big economic consumption number.  

Pam: In the 1930s this was a boycott that worked really well. It was the Don’t Shop Where You Can’t Work campaign. The campaign basically said, do not shop at places that won’t hire you. The protest and the boycott actually worked, they gained about 2000 jobs within that campaign.

Pam: The bus boycott in the 1960s. Rosa Parks was the catalyst and the symbol of the beginning of a long-standing bus boycott. They organized carpools and walked to work etc. Again, this wasn’t easy for people to give up, but the actual cause behind it mattered more than the temporary suffering that it took to get people to pay attention. 

Dyalekt: There were more black business then because of Jim Crow, segregation etc. While there were these sacrifices, the black community was a lot more unified and it was a lot less of a struggle to get by without spending money in white businesses. Now with the integration we have going, it is actually asking a lot and it leaves people scrambling about where they can shop. 

Pam: Be really deliberate about where you shop and be very thoughtful about it. There are a lot of small businesses out there that are making cool stuff. So, check these guys out too, support small businesses. 

Dyalekt: There is nothing wrong with any sort of thing that you would cop, but just give yourself a why. If you can’t give yourself even an Apple Jack answer of why then maybe you don’t really want it. 

Dyalekt: One of the reasons why Black Friday works is, suckers get put into a position where we are fighting for something so of course we want it more, we had to fight for it!

Pam: In 1983 the NAACP started this 5-day campaign to show the buying power of black people. You were encouraged to exchange your currency for $2 bills and Susan B. Anthony $1 coins and pay in those two currencies for 5 days, just to show that money circulating and what that looks like. 

Pam: One of the more current ones was Mizzou. That was a huge one in how they got the president to step down. They protested and boycotted and did sit ins for so long and no one paid attention until the football team joined in. The football team is money.

Dyalekt: One thing that is really difficult is when the prominent people, the ones with the 7 figure plus salaries, when they start getting involved, we get a whole change in what is going on. 

Pam: That is what is powerful about boycotts and continuing to be disciplined in it. It all takes time to build up to that point. 

Pam: We come to 2015 and we come to Chicago and the protest on Black Friday. Jesse Jackson is involved; the teacher’s union is involved. They were targeting stores on the Magnificent Mile, really high-end stores. We hear only about Black Friday people bashing, and then we have these protestors and we hear the backlash against the protestors. One woman is yelling, “I’m an American!” This was in the Chicago Tribune, “I’m an American, I just want to get in the store. I just want to shop”. That is literally what she yelled to the protestors who wouldn’t let her in. 

Dyalekt: The other quote, “We are not trying to stop them from protesting, why are they trying to stop us from shopping?!”

Pam: This definitely was a much bigger deal this year, than last year. They have the momentum from last year. I feel like these 2015 protests are the beginning of a movement and the beginning of, ok, what’s next? I feel like that’s the big question that people are asking. 

Pam: There’s really amazing Salon article written by Shannon M Houston, we are big fans! She brings up a lot of good points. The thing is, this is not something that everyone feels like they can get behind right now. She specifically says every single black person is not convinced of the current movement and that’s partly because like Black Friday shoppers they have been pacified by various pleasantries or feelings of accomplishments.

Dyalekt: It is ill seeing how the so-called integration that has happened has actually created a number of different levels of segregation. Sometimes there are racial segregation and sometimes you are seeing it within racial groups.

Pam: One of the other things that was really brought up well in the article, this is that time where people feel like they can finally afford the thing they’ve been wanting to get.  And we are telling them, NO, don’t! Don’t do it, don’t get the thing that you know will give you or your family some sense of momentary happiness, don’t do it. Don’t do it because there’s this greater cause over here somewhere, that is a little vague, but we are working towards it, we promise.

Dyalekt: Talking about the class thing, the people who are telling you that are famous folks, celebrities, or your cousin who is at a higher socioeconomic status. It is not an actual sacrifice for them. 

Pam: Right, they can afford to do it!

Dyalekt: “The huge sales at the end of the year, they prey on very real emotions of people in these situations. In other words, a Gap, Target, or Walmart ad for 50% off is not just about the money. It signifies a mythical redemption for many parents. Some sort of second chance to do right by the people they love as if their inability to buy these things throughout the year is due to their own failings and nothing else.” What? Again, shout out to Shannon M Houston for writing such powerful and evocative prose. But Lord, I haven’t even thought about it on that level.

Pam: Telling people to not buy something on Black Friday, means you’re telling them that.

Dyalekt: When I looked at research for today’s show, tons of comments had a variation of that angry, vitriolic response. About, how are you going to take that away from me? I work hard all year, and this is the day when they give me a chance to buy that thing that I think that I should have.

Dyalekt: Not mad at them for pricing it the way that the do the rest of the year, mad at you for telling them not to go for it. The crazy thing about it, those who have less are hit hardest by this. They literally hit hardest by this. You can give up your seat on the bus and go carpool when you got people to carpool with. But now when those people are taking uber everywhere, and don’t talk to you at all during the year, and don’t have anything for you, and don’t have any solutions for you. They don’t seem like they have your back. And this company, that DEFINITELY doesn’t have your back, they’ve done all the tricks to make you feel like they have your back and they have a thing you want. So, who are you going to go with?

Pam: We don’t like to be told we’ve been making the wrong decision financially. Or that we shouldn’t get something. Even just being told no for something that we have been wanting for so long. One of the great things that have come out of this year’s Black Friday, and has helped me rethink my value system in terms of what this day is supposed to mean, is that REI, the outdoor store, decided to close on Black Friday and gave all of their employees a paid vacation. In response to that, different state parks said on Black Friday they will be giving free admission into the park. #optoutside This is the direction I feel like we should be going in for Black Friday. To continue the family togetherness. At the end of the day, why are you buying this stuff for your family? Because you love them. 

Pam: What else can you? Really, what we’ve found in all of our research in this time is that experiences are really what makes people happiest. If you decide one year to spend the day with your family, friends, loved ones. Go to a state park for free next year, because it sounds like they are going to do it again. Free park Friday is what they are calling it, try that instead.

Pam: Now is a great time to start rethinking what you actually value. What you and your dollars actually go towards and who your dollars are actually supporting.