Boycott Christmas? I have to admit–that’s REAL Black and radical! LOL! 🙂
At the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March in Washington, D.C. yesterday, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said it was a mass action Blacks could use to punish the whites who enslaved their Ancestors centuries ago and whose police shoot them down in the street today.
Here’s four reasons why what the Minister wants will be difficult to implement:
1) Yes, Black people have buying power, but they don’t have wealth. Black people spend money for the same reasons as every other group–to sustain themselves. And let’s be real: many Christmas gifts are practical items people seriously need.
2) Yes, Black people are angry about the public epidemic of police shootings. But historically, boycotts work when an aggrieved community decides collectively that their interests will be served by the group sacrifice. (See Montgomery, Alabama and Martin Luther King.) If there was an actual, practical end result that was measurable for Black people–an actual gain that, for example, would make them safe in the presence of the police–I believe the people would follow Minister Farrakhan and make the sacrifice. But if not, no.
3) Economic boycotts have to be well-organized. Is the NOI going to spend the millions in organizational support, media advertisements, etc., it would take to organize 40 million people in roughly 40 states? To do it right, it would have to be on the scale of a presidential election campaign.
4) Black people love Christmas–all of it. For many Blacks, all of the X-Mas traditions are as important to them as their churches. (It’s why Maulana Karenga, the founder of modern-day Kwanzaa, set up the holiday between Christmas and New Year’s as an alternative/substitute/supplement to it, because he understood the deal.)
What Farrakhan is asking for, and how he is talking about doing it, is admirable, but without the buy-in (if you forgive the expression) of a substantial part of Black America, the call has all the potency of, say, demanding statehood for the District of Columbia: maybe someday it will happen with a lot of struggle, but not today–and definitely not this Christmas.
Near me a Sigma and a Delta brought their children, who sat on their child lawn chairs, eating and working on a puzzle book. Apologies to Sly and the Family Stone, but….
The Nation of Islam showed that it may be the first Black group to understand that youth must be served by publicly serving. The emcees–Tamika Mallory, a former youth leader for the Rev. Al Sharpton, Nuri Muhammad of the Nation of Islam (who talked about Black people’s war with police, which he called the “Blu Klux Klan” and also with “niggativity”) and upcoming leader the Rev. Jamal Bryant, were presented as emerging leaders, not “youth leaders.”
Farrakhan, 82, was a grandfather talking to his grandchildren. He said what the Nation and the crowd knew: “What good are we if we think we can last forever and not train the young to follow in our footsteps?”