Black Friday and How We Spend It

downloadI recently posted this status on Thanksgiving Day about Black Friday, and its received some pushback and insights, so I thought it was worth sharing again with more nuance and clarity:
If you shop today and tomorrow, I just want you to know I think you’re a consumeristic, materialistic asshole.
Your greed and consumerism driving the need to get those deals only serve to take folks away from their families on a holiday and contribute more to the filthy, rotten, vile Capitalist system, which dehumanizes all of us!
Stay in and refuse to be a cog in this nastiness known as Black Friday!”
This status was meant for those who don’t really need to spend their lives, time, and holidays bargain-hunting and shit; it was directed towards middle/upper middle-class people, not poor and working people. I realize that poor people and working-class people aren’t shopping due to their greed, but because they are trying to make their money work the best for them and their families.
However, I think poor folks and those of us aware of the class struggle need to be aware of what we do, and that’s why I refuse to shop on BF. As a poor person most of my life and just barely above being poor now, there’s much we do that contributes to our own continued oppression by class and economics. From who we vote for to the policies we support or don’t support. We need to be conscientious about these matters.
It’s very possible for poor folks and working-class folks to contribute to the vile system of Capitalism by participating in BF. Something I’ve learned from reading Dr. Kendi is that there are black and brown people who aren’t only racist but are also furthering the oppression of their own race by supporting racist policies or those who are creating racist policies. Thus it’s not a stretch to see that we participate in our own class oppression by giving money, thus power, to the corporations and Capitalist system on a day like BF.
I say this as someone whose participated in it myself and even gone into debt to participate in those once-in-a-year killer deals! There’s plenty of shit that’s more affordable and that I could use, but I’ve just been convicted that even as an upper lower class/lower middle-class person that it isn’t helpful to participate in BF.
I apologize for any shame or degradation. As a friend said, “There’s no ethical consumption in capitalism.” In this system, we’re all guilty. I drive a new car and use technology that makes me guilty of it. I didn’t mean to hurt or offend, just simply stating how I feel about this day and our participating in it.
As someone whose been poor all my life and who still basically lives paycheck to paycheck and has 135k in student loan debt, there’s been 2 times I’ve ever participated in this day. Granted I don’t have kids, so I’ve not had that much need to since, apparently, it’s a vital day for parents to be able to afford shit for their kids. I just see serious issues with the day, and the problems it creates. I also think there’s alternatives to having to participate in this day.
Holy shit, people trample each other to death, fight, and commit violence for these deals! Just those problems alone just cause us to pause and reflect.
I also don’t see why this HAS to be the day after Thanksgiving, and why it can’t be the week after instead of forcing working folks from their families which is one of my biggest issues with it all. We participate in a day of shopping that begins on a holiday, which takes working people, especially retail workers, from their families. I’ve been one of those workers before, and was again this year having pulled 16 hours on Thanksgiving.
I firmly believe that money is power, and that only a few people have both of those things. Money is power. What we do with the money we have says a lot about what we do with what little power we do have. If all poor and working people refused to participate in BF, I’d be willing to bet that it would be disastrous for the powers that be who feed off our needing these deals and such. They sit back like Roman emperors at a gladiator game watching us devour and eat each other to get to these deals! Imagine if we all protested this national day of consumption and stayed in! Imagine if we refused to participate in the glorification of stuff!
Being poor and working poor and shopping on BL doesn’t make you an asshole, and I apologize for not being more nuanced and clear, however, I do think it makes us complacent at the very least if not downright guilty in our own furthered oppression by this system by participating in this monstrosity.
Consumerism is evil and morally bankrupt. I find it ethically and morally horrifying and degrading. Regardless of our class or necessity, the driving force behind BF is consumerism, and the lies it tells us that we have to have all this stuff or that we have to get our kids all this stuff to be happy.
The point is that even as poor and working poor people we should stop and think seriously about BF and the implications it has on us and our situation. If we must shop on this horrid day then let it be due to pure necessity not for pleasure. This isn’t my blaming poor and working people, and that is far from my intent; it’s about calling us to think more critically and proactively about this particular day of the year! Please don’t misunderstand my intentions. You don’t have anything to feel bad about as a poor and working person for participating in Black Friday, but I think we all have something to think about by doing so.
This doesn’t mean Capitalism and it’s evil is our fault or that we’re bad people for participating in it, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have some soul-searching to do when it comes to this day and how we spend it.

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