Can A Black Friday Boycott Bring Justice For Michael Brown?


In the wake of a grand jury's decision not to bring charges against the police officer who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown in August, some are hoping that a boycott to Black Friday shopping will help make their voices heard. WWD reports that The Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition is calling for shoppers to refrain during Thanksgiving weekend out of respect for Brown.
The movement is being dubbed #BlackoutBlackFriday: A Nationwide Day of Action & United Retail Boycott, and is gaining major support on Twitter, with people tweeting that hashtag, and #BoycottBlackFriday in support. Although we couldn't find an official statement about the boycott from the Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, the movement's supporters hope that disrupting the nation's biggest shopping day of the year may be a wake-up call about their sorrow over Brown's death, and anger at the lack of justice:
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"The lives of our brothers & sisters are worth more than the dollars we can save on holiday gifts," read one tweet. Another user said, "Let's make Black Friday about the Black issues in America."
Some are questioning the logic of the boycott. Branding Gladiator tweeted, "#BlackOutFriday boycott COULD be impactful IF it didn't also hurt minority businesses.. ahem can yawll rethink this?" But, many who support the movement are calling for shoppers to only shop Black-owned businesses if they shop at all this weekend. Meanwhile, The Grio published a thought-provoking op-ed about how "Voting Tuesdays" could have a greater impact than "Blackout Black Friday."
But, it's important to note that boycotts for social change have worked in the past: most notably, the Montgomery bus boycott in 1955 prompted by Rosa Parks' arrest, which led to the desegregation of buses. Naysayers will say that racial discrimination on buses leading to a bus boycott is a connection that's easier to make than the more nebulous link between Black Friday shopping and ending police brutality. But, with a more sustained effort, and a list of specific demands, a boycott that affects businesses could work eventually (after all, it took the bus boycotters 13 long months to effect change).
With brick-and-mortar store sales for Thanksgiving weekend in 2013 topping $12 billion, it remains to be seen whether this Blackout Black Friday will make much of an impact. But, perhaps it will be the start of a larger, more sustained movement for justice for Brown and other victims of police brutality. (WWD)
For more ways to help, click here to donate to Serving Ferguson to help organize clean-up efforts and family and student meals; as well as I Love Ferguson, to help damaged local businesses.
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