Should we celebrate Black Friday?


ONCE again ‘Black Friday’ is upon us. 

And still our people, black people go gaga over the day.

Black Friday is the term for the phenomenon that takes place in the US on the day after Thanksgiving Thursday, when millions of consumers who get the day off from work or school crowd into stores for what is traditionally considered the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. 

Black Friday has indeed been the buzzword on television, the internet and a number of local service providers as they stampeded to get a share of people’s savings; slashing prices to induce impulsive buying.

A vigorous campaign, it seems, has been mounted to ensure that the real story, the history of Black Friday, is dismissed and that its darker roots in Philadelphia are forgotten. It has been claimed to be a myth, that it is not substantiated by facts. 

Great effort has been made to dismiss this part of America’s gory history and crime against humanity.

We are made to appear as lunatics for highlighting and refusing to overlook this story.

But this is no ranting and no amount of sweeteners by the business community will make us forget the true origins of this day. There is nothing positive about Black Friday.

The truth is that the story behind Black Friday is not as rosy as retailers might have us believe.

There is nothing really good to say about Black Friday, it is a day soaked in greed.

Black Friday came from the slave trade and not these many other events touted as the origin. 

Yes, crashes of economies and stampedes by tourists may have happened but the Black Friday we know came the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders would sell slaves for a discount to assist plantation owners with more helpers for the upcoming winter to perform tasks such as cutting and stacking firewood, for winter proofing. Sometime after the abolishing of slavery, retailers found a way to reinvent Black Friday and turn it into something that reflected positively, rather than negatively, on them and their customers.

In the din caused by retailers regarding Black Friday, I urge us to revisit a voice of reason which circulated on social media in the form of a photograph cautioning blacks to revisit the dark origins of a day that we now look forward to annually.

It reminded blacks that Black Friday is a term originally coined to celebrate a day when slaves were sold, not at a premium but a discount.

One of the most prominent antagonists of Black Friday to date is popular musician Toni Braxton, who, in 2014, pasted on her facebook wall a meme captioned: “DID YOU KNOW: Black Friday stems from slavery? It was the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders would sell slaves at a discount to assist plantation owners with more helpers for the upcoming winter…hence the name….”

Below that post, Braxton remarked: “No Black Friday for me.”

Commenting on Braxtons’ actions, Carl Hewitt remarked: “Toni at least has the courage to make a statement and do something substantive.These fools won’t boycott anything, though. They’ll be out there running down the street to the flat-screen TV sales at Target, just like last year. When have black folks ever stood up collectively for anything?”

This practice is said to have been prevalent in the US in the early 1900s, long before the abolishment of slavery and the American establishment has long tried to shake off the negative connotations surrounding Black Friday by offering counter-narratives.

It is unfortunate that our kith and kin, centuries later, blindly follow this tradition.

As the Christmas season beckons, it is imperative that black people reflect on all the festivities they choose to commemorate, fully knowledgeable of their historical background and the implications of continuing with such practices for their progeny.


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