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?”
OCTOBER 14th UPDATE: My friend Linn Washington Jr. went. Here’s his public take:
Saturday’s Justice march was “powerful” in the words of my 12-year-old grandson. I went primarily to take him so he could experience it – I was there as a participant not a reporter.-But I can report that the 200k participant ‘guess-ta-ment” for the 10/10/15 Justice march is not far off.-That event did not have anywhere near the million+ of the ’95 M3 event…yet there was that spiritual-like ’95 unity vibe albeit not as INtense and focused as 1995.-In ’95 I walked from the Capitol steps back to the Washington Monument to get a scope of the crowd (i knew the media/authorities would lie on the count)…and in ’95 it was a solid sea of men on the Mall spilling into parallel streets. Saturday, the multitude did not have the people-per-square-inch density or Capitol to Monument seamlessness of participants…occupying the Mall only and the distance of a few blocks back. (And, fidelity to fact: I didn’t do the Capitol to Monument stroll on Saturday but could see open space around Monument unlike in ’95)-Below are a few observations from a participant not from a thorough reporter:–Saturday’s event did have a more diverse crowd – 8 to 80, 8 as in eight months old. A striking aspect for me on Saturday was the presence of families (Dad/Mom kids) and extended families lil ones to grands, all rolling as a ‘crew’ – a lot of women were there also…and whites were there (seemingly not on a ‘zoo visit’ attytood)– Saw a few Native Americans but did not see many Hispanics.-Yes, there were a lot, A Lot of 20-30 somethings in the crowd and there were organizations galore in ‘see-me’ attire from black Greeks to the New Black Panther Party.-Of course, in 2015: it was ‘selfie’ city…saw folks popping into the NBPP formation to get their pics taken…-Judging from tee shirts and other attire items, folks came from north/south, east/west to attend.-A few similarities between Saturday & 1995:-Much media coverage was not in-depth…for example, didn’t see mention in articles that I read about the on stage remarks by a sister of Sandra Bland, the father of Michael Brown and the mother of Trayvon Martin — Justice or Else definitely includes police brutality so how can cover an anti-police abuse event and not report on symbols of that struggle???-Another similarity between 1995 & 2015 (and I will probably get my ‘Black Card’ revoked for this observation): Farrakhan talked TOO much. I respect the Brother Minister deeply, but, Yo, cogent and concise hits harder. (Grandson and I toured the entire Smithsonian Native American Museum from top to bottom, beginning visit 15 minutes into Farrakhan’s remarks, we did all four floors of the museum and when we exited Farrakhan was still talking. Interesting seeing [again] how ameriKKKa JERKED the Indians like they jerked us -broken treaties, abusive justice system, LIES aplenty, attacking the victim for opposing their oppression, etc.)-The trip Saturday to Justice or Else for me was about the grandson: He said the event was “really cool.” Said he liked that people “are coming together.” Said he doesn’t want to group up and have to “deal with” brutal cops. He liked “the support” he saw at the march Saturday.
Jared A. Ball is harsh but correct here in this very strong, well-written, well-thought out article. He has said out loud what many in Africana Studies have only said privately. And I think all of us have to be more careful in the future about providing uncritical support, and public platforms, to people who just say some of the right things about our history while omitting things whites don’t like, or just do some of the things we want while ignoring other things. I know many people feel that the larger direction of providing operational unity is more important, but I think we all have to individually decide what the cost of that would be. We can’t teach just half our history. As I said in my critique of Manning Marable: We don’t owe him anything; instead, we owe Africana Studies.