Young People Boycott Black Friday

Trinette Barclift and her 1-year-old child (Courtesy photo)
Trinette Barclift and her 1-year-old child (Courtesy photo)

For youngsters consumed with school, work and social media, Thanksgiving stands as one of few days available to spend time with loved ones and get started on some holiday shopping.

This season however, some youth will not participate in Black Friday activities as part of an effort to revive the holiday tradition of giving thanks and devoting time to friends and family. The economic boycott also strives to promote racial equality by challenging major corporations who do not support black consumers.

“It’s kind of ironic that we celebrate Thanksgiving, but then we trample each other to buy stuff the next day,” Kwame Kumah, 19, a student at University of Maryland said.

Kumah told WI Bridge that he expects to dine with family at home this Thanksgiving. He then expressed what he believes are holiday principles: spending time with family and being thankful for what you have. “I don’t go out of my way to get a deal right after Thanksgiving. It just seems kind of foolish to me,” Kumah added. “I don’t think you should prioritize Black Friday over Thanksgiving.”

Last year, millennials extended a call to “Boycott Black Friday”in the wake of mega retail chains Target, Walmart, Best Buy and Macy’s demanding employees to skip holiday meals and work extended hours throughout the holiday weekend to meet consumer demand.

Earlier this year, Justice or Else campaigners, led by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, encouraged African Americans to boycott Black Friday in response to the U.S. government not caring enough about black lives.

“We have in the neighborhood of $1.1 to $1.5 trillion in consumer power, which makes black people a carcass where all the vultures gather to suck the life out of us,” Farrakhan told News One earlier this year. “You’re either going to treat us right or we are going to withdraw our economic support.”

Thanksgiving weekend sales dropped 11 percent last year after a nationwide protest pushed people to not contribute to holiday shopping in response to racial injustices specifically, the Ferguson case, white police officer shot and killed Black unarmed teenager, Michael Brown.

Now, Facebook ralliers are posting “Naughty and Nice Lists” of retailers who decide to stay closed this year on Thanksgiving Day (nice) and retailers who choose to open on Thanksgiving Day (naughty).

“On November 26th, boycott any retailer that chooses to extend massive Black Friday sales into Thanksgiving Day. Protect the employees, protect the family,” announced the Boycott Black Thursday Facebook group.

But some people aren’t sitting out of Black Friday shopping this year.

Over the years, there has been an increase in holiday shopping among young consumers. According to the National Retail Federation, 43 percent of millennials said they shopped on Thanksgiving Day and 83 percent of young shoppers bought items over the Thanksgiving weekend in 2013. In addition, African Americans saw the largest increase in time spent browsing coupons and rewards sites on Black Friday, Nielsen reported.

The shopping statistics don’t show reasons for the increased amount of shopping, but young people of color like Trinette Barclift, 22, say the ideal Thanksgiving Day consists of indulging in collard greens, ham, turkey and cornbread with family. However, she said she may have to give into the discounted Black Friday merchandise to provide for her one-year-old child.

“Some stores should be open, because people might need last minute things, but I know people don’t like to work on holidays, but sometimes it’s necessary for people to work,” said Barclift who lives in Northeast.

Some bold retailers granted the request of boycotters to close stores on Thanksgiving Day, including H&M and T.J. Maxx, while others will close stores on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday.

REI, the outdoor and sporting goods market, will close down stores on both Nov. 26 and 27 in a push to encourage employees to embrace the holiday spirit outside of the hectic seasonal crowds. In addition, employees will be paid to take the days off.

“We’re a different kind of company— and while the rest of the world is fighting it out in the aisles, we’ll be spending our day a little differently. We’re choosing to opt outside, and want you to come with us,” REI CEO Jerry Stritzke told Forbes.

People work at these retailers over the holiday weekend, but they aren’t the only group of people coerced into joining the Black Friday mobs. Millennials like Keona Holden, 20, from Baltimore often participate in Black Friday shopping against their will because of parents who want to wait in long lines for holiday deals.

“I hate it. It’s just so many people and I just hate being bum-rushed,” she said.

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