ColumnistsAskia MuhammadOpinion

MUHAMMAD: Why I’m Boycotting Holiday Spending

Note to Trump, Hillary, Bernie, the Greens, the Libertarians, the Tea Party Caucus, the Freedom Caucus, the Liberty Caucus, the Evangelical Caucus, et al.: I join the movement to use economic power to bring justice to oppressed people in this country.

“The holidays are part and parcel of the gross fraud, wrong and inhumanity of slavery,” abolitionist Frederick Douglass wrote in 1861. “From what I know of the effect of these holidays upon the slave, I believe them to be among the most effective means in the hands of the slave master in keeping down the spirit of insurrection.

“These holidays serve as conductors, or safety valves, to carry off the rebellious spirit of enslaved humanity,” he wrote.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it this way: “Look, you don’t have to run around talking bad; you don’t have to gather any Molotov cocktails and burn up your own community.”
The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said: “You don’t even have to fire one shot — all you have to do is fire the canon of our unity.” And so it is.

By binding in unity, black people can redistribute the pain we suffer when a cop gets off in court despite video evidence of him shooting an unarmed fleeing suspect in the back.

“Here, corporate world. Here is a taste of black people’s pain in the form of reduced holiday purchases.”

At the same time, targeted spending could transform the condition of black businesses with an infusion of cash. If black folks spent just one-tenth of 1 percent of what they spend for the winter holidays, the businesses would be able to hire thousands of people, giving them jobs, according to Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, who organized a boycott during the 2015 holiday season.

There’s one thing about spending (or not spending) that puts all the power in the hands of the consumer: spending is completely voluntary. The choice of brands, makes, models, stores, features — those choices are left to the purchaser. Why do you think little foreign government entities have been booking social events at the new Trump Hotel in Washington? Because they want to favorably influence the incoming Trump administration by being seen spending money in a Trump-owned business, that’s why.

Boycotts by black folks have a proven track record of success, especially in the South — the Montgomery bus boycott and at times in Mississippi, for example. In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, the NAACP’s Medgar Evers led a boycott, which brought the white establishment to its knees.

“Spend money! We’ll protect you! We’ll give you police protection from the boycotters,” the mayor begged at the time.

Then, 30 years later, the good folks of Indianola, Mississippi, boycotted the downtown business core to protest the treatment of a black candidate for school superintendent. The businesses bought out the contract of the offensive candidate.

We win. We maintain our dignity when we stand our ground.

So count me among those who are not spending this holiday season. I wish more and more people would join, and boycott spending this holiday season…but if we must spend with black-owned businesses.

Try it. Watch and see how much power we accumulate when we do it. Boycott holiday spending.

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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