Black Friday could mean more than long lines and flash sales this year.
In the wake of a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown, advocates are encouraging people to express their frustration by boycotting the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday.
Protesters are popularizing the hashtags #BoycottBlackFriday, #BlackOutFriday, #NotOneDime, and #HandsUpDontSpend to encourage the boycott, the latter referencing the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” chant popularized during the Ferguson protest. While sympathizers are spreading the message virally, the movement appears to have been started weeks ago by the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, which suggested it as part of a “No Justice, No Profit” movement. Activists told St. Louis Public Radio that they hope the boycott will show the movement’s power and that business owners will pressure for change.
Some on social media have suggested it would be OK to shop at African-American owned businesses. But it’s not clear how much power slighted businesses might have in pushing against police wrongdoing or how boycotting them will improve race relations between police and minority communities.
Nonetheless, in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict Wilson, the campaign has found fertile ground. Mentions of the hashtag have been tweeted hundreds of times and the movement appears to be quickly picking up speed.
Celebrities from Soledad O’Brien to Russell Simmons have encouraged the action, and activists in cities across the country are jumping on board. Hundreds of tweets have been shared to date.
Economic activism is nothing new, though it’s traditionally been most effective in forcing profits-driven corporation to act — just last month, the home soda maker SodaStream agreed to move a factory from an Israeli settlement in the West Bank to southern Israel after consumers boycotted the product.
Still, advocates on Twitter note that African-Americans in the U.S. have serious buying power — roughly a trillion dollars in 2013 — and Black Friday is traditionally a hugely profitable day for American retailers. This year, nearly $60 billion in sales are expected.
Here are a few of those posts calling for restraint. Will you be boycotting Black Friday this year? Let us know in the comments.