By Charlene Muhammad CHARLENEM
Strategic boycotts for justice hit third year
Americans are on target to spend almost $700 billion on Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays to the first of next year, but activists, entrepreneurs and organizers have escalated boycotts to curb holiday spending in their fight for justice and battle against racism and police brutality.
Across the country, there have been “buycotts,” petition drives, and protests outside shopping malls, such as the Magnificent Mile, where some 300 demonstrators blocked entrances to stores in Chicago’s upscale shopping district on Michigan Avenue after Thanksgiving.
The Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression called the Black Friday Boycott for Nov. 24 to underscore determination to get justice for 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was killed by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014.
“The first two shots put him on the ground. This child was laying on the ground, helpless, and he shot him 14 more times,” said Frank Chapman, field coordinator of the Alliance. “In fact, his clip ran out and he was getting ready to put another clip in the gun, when fellow officers stopped him.”
“They don’t issue a report telling us about what profit losses we cause, but we know we caused some because we passed out several thousand flyers, and there were people who would have been shopping in those stores that walked right on by them,” Mr. Chapman told The Final Call.
There was mass media coverage of the protest, a mass police presence, and two police snipers situated on nearby roofs, he said.
“They don’t care about us demonstrating in our own neighborhood, but when we come down there, in the central business district of this city, and start raising hell, they care about that. They don’t want us down there … We’re going to continue to go down there until we see some justice,” Mr. Chapman told The Final Call.Their next move is to go after the banks, namely Chase Bank and Bank of America, for their roles in bilking Blacks out of wealth during the mortgage scheme of 2007-2008.
The plan is to ask everyone, but particularly Blacks, to shift money from those two banks and Wells Fargo, into Black-owned community-based credit unions, such as the Trinity United Church of Christ Federal Credit Union.
“They literally robbed the African American community of billions of dollars in real estate and we’re still walking up in there making deposits, and that needs to stop! The reason why we’re stopping it is because no justice, no profits! We can’t get justice for LaQuan McDonald. We can’t get justice for the over 100 torture victims that are now languishing in jails in the state of Illinois … then we will not contribute to your profits. We’re gonna spread the pain.”
His sentiments reflect the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s call for the “Up With Jesus! Down With Santa!” national economic boycott of commercial spending.
Stop shopping until the end of this holiday season, Jan. 2, 2018, or shop with Black-owned businesses, not those who could care less for Blacks, and make mockery of their real love for Jesus during “Christmas,” instructed Min. Farrakhan during organizing for the Justice or Else! gathering that marked the 20th anniversary of the historic Million Man March on Oct. 10, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
He gave the command, “Up with Jesus! Down with Santa!” following the beautiful instructions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Christmas is a pagan holiday that the enemy invented; it came out of the Babylonian era,” the Minister said. Sun worshipers that were heathens would go in the forest and cut down a tree, deck it with silver and gold, and fasten it with nails on the floor, Min. Farrakhan said. The practice is condemned in the Bible, Jeremiah 10:1-5.
When the pagans became Christians, they didn’t give up pagan practices. Those practices were simply incorporated in their new Christian religion.
“Did you know that when you put your lights on, put it all over your house, put a candle in the window, and a wreath, that’s because the people worshiped the Sun?” Min. Farrakhan observed.
On Dec. 21, the shortest day of the year, sun worshippers thought their god was leaving them, so they burned a yule log, lit candles, and cut a tree out of the forest to entreat their god back to them. When Constantine decided to become a Christian, instead of a pagan, he substituted the worship of the sun for worship of the son of God, said Min. Farrakhan.“But how do you carry out the honor and worship of Christ? Drunk? That’s part of the holiday season. Foolish? Doing unrighteous things? We have dishonored Jesus by the way we practice pagan, heathen practices as ex-slaves in the manner that we were acculturated to act. Did you know that the money that we get out of our economy, $1.1 trillion to $1.3 trillion, we spend it almost as fast as we get it?” he said.
“Redistribute the pain that you feel!” said the Minister. “We just can’t keep burying our dead and suffering quietly while the rich and the powerful continue business as usual. Dr. King said, ‘Redistribute the pain, and tell them that fairness to God’s people should be high on your [the merchants’] agenda. And if that is not the case, then we have an agenda, and we will involve ourselves in economic withdrawal,” Min. Farrakhan stated.
“Find some Black business that you can spend your money with and don’t complain. Go find a Black business and spend your money with your own,” Min. Farrakhan advised.
Dr. Harry Alford, CEO and co-founder of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, stressed patience and consistency in supporting Black businesses. “I think we need to be tolerant when customer satisfaction isn’t there, and perhaps offer constructive criticism, but don’t walk away and shut the door,” he said.
Black Lives Matter has continued its boycott of White businesses and building the Black community with Black Xmas. That means no spending with White corporations from Nov. 24-Jan. 1, 2018, and, “curbing consumerism” for the holidays.
“Instead of buying, consider donating to Black organizations in the names of loved ones as their holiday gifts. If you must buy, #BuyBlack,” said Black Lives Matter, which lists Black businesses at backingblackbusiness.com.
Black Lives Matter Los Angeles has also continued demonstrating outside of District Attorney Jackie Lacey’s office. She has not charged a single police officer in the deaths of Black and Brown men, women and children, said organizers. On Oct. 24, Black Lives Matter delivered a petition with 10,000 signatures to D.A. Lacey’s office, demanding she “bring charges against police when they kill our people, beginning with the filing of charges against former Inglewood police officers Michael Jaen, Richard Parcella, Jason Cantrell, Sean Reidy and Andrew Cohen who killed Kisha Michael and Marquintan Sandlin while sleeping in their car in February 2016.”
As Season 3 of “Up With Jesus! Down With Santa!” moves forward, TheBlackMall.com marked its third Buy Black Friday event at Holy Angels Catholic Church on Nov. 24.
Over 50 vendors provided an alternative to big box stores for holiday purchases and buying for regular needs in strategic action for economic withdrawal, said event co-organizer Cassiopeia Uhuru, co-founder of TheBlackMall.com.
“Last year, $11,000 was recycled amongst Black people to Black-owned vendors and businesses. This year, we got to about $20,000. It was just beautiful! People are really starting to understand or getting it. It’s becoming more of a habit than it is a novelty,” said Ms. Uhuru.
Organizers have also begun hosting monthly Ujamaa Markets to provide a space for Black vendors to expose and sell their goods and services to a targeted audience. The markets are named after the Cooperative Economics principle of Kwanzaa, the African holiday created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. “It’s so that we know this is about recycling the Black dollar and about changing spending habits. And, we found out that there are now Ujamaa markets across the nation,” Ms. Uhuru told The Final Call.
“The cooperatives are really going to be more impactful than in the past. More people are getting out of the ‘well, I have to have my own business by myself, because I just want the glory and I want to say that I did it all by myself’ and people are coming together, and doing a lot of joint, cooperative efforts, and that is so important,” Ms. Uhuru said. “We know that we work better together. I think our people are a very collective, communal people, and the more we start joining our organizations together, everybody does well.”
Their plan is an embodiment of principles contained in the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Economic Blueprint, guidance and instructions he laid out for financial success in his groundbreaking 1965 text, Message to the Black Man in America.
The book urges Blacks to recognize the necessity for unity and group operation, pool resources, physically as well as financially, stop wanton criticisms of everything that is Black-owned and Black-operated and keep in mind that jealousy destroys from within. “Observe the operations of the White man. He is successful. He makes no excuses for his failures. He works hard in a collective manner. You do the same,” instructed the Hon. Elijah Muhammad.
TheBlackMall.com is also in the middle of its Facebook Live shopping event, Buying Black with 30 people over 30 days.
“Black Friday has changed now from the big retailers because of the efforts over the last few years of getting boycotted, so now, they don’t isolate their sales to just Friday. … They are scrambling,” said Ms. Uhuru.
According to The Balance, a financial reporting site, retailers predicted $630.5 billion in Black Friday spending in 2015, but only $626.1 billion in sales was tallied.
Most statistics are citing online sales for Black Friday 2017, which amounted to $2.36 billion, up from $1.97 billion last year, according to e-commerce numbers by The Statistics Portal.
CNN Money indicated that in-store foot traffic for Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday was actually down nearly 2 percent, compared to the same two days last year.
According to the National Retail Federation’s Holiday Headquarters, from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday (Nov. 27), more than 174 million Americans shopped in stores and online during the five-day holiday weekend.
During his Saviours’ Day 2016 address, “Divine Instructions and Commands in the Pursuit of Justice,” Min. Farrakhan shared the impact of Blacks working to redistribute the pain: Apple sales declined in the first quarter of 2016 for the first time in 13 years. Best Buy holiday sales declined as the retailer sold fewer smart phones than expected. Domestic sales over the nine weeks through January 2nd fell 1.2 percent; Macy’s announced plans to lay off 4,350 employees due to disappointing holiday sales. Macy’s said about 80 percent of its sales declines were attributed to shortfalls in cold weather goods like coats, sweaters, hats, gloves and scarves–because the weather was so warm people weren’t buying.
“So it’s wonderful to know that we give commands and God helps us! God backs us up,” said Min. Farrakhan.
(Final Call Staff contributed to this report.)