We’ve all seen the hashtag. We’ve all heard the chants. We’ve all witnessed the criticism and counterattack for the infuriating and indignified #AllLivesMatter. But, we haven’t spoken on the arguably more effective outcry Black Dollars Matter.
I have read the statistics about how important the Black dollar is to American society. Black Americans had a projected buying power of $1.1 trillion in this year alone. Nonetheless, African Americans are steadily excluded from mainstream advertisers, and most importantly, large businesses fail to consider pressing issues that continue to plague the black community.
Protesters put these considerations to use this past winter during a boycott on Black Friday. On Chicago’s infamous Michigan Avenue – known for its high-fashion and high-priced shopping district – protesters for Laquan McDonald blocked the entrances to shops, laying down in storefronts and shouting “16 shots” at the top of the lungs. More famously was the interview with a tourist sobbing because she couldn’t enter the Timberland store for its post-Thanksgiving deals – quite ironic in the wake of countless young black people shot dead in the streets, yet she mourned for her missed sale. Rev. Jesse Jackson and his PUSH organization joined protesters in the streets to rise up and shut down the shopping area for the weekend.
The protests on Michigan Avenue cost retailers in the area 25-50% of sales, according to the Chicago Tribune. For example, Aldo Shoes was projected to make $37,000 on Friday alone, they only raised $19,000 in sales.
Proof that Black Dollars truly matter, and evidence that such boycotts are most effective in bringing pressing issues in the black community to light.
While protesting and marching in the streets surely raises awareness within the direct communities, economical boycotts cause greater awareness by witnesses abroad and forces for-profit corporations to wipe the sleep from their eyes. They are no longer able to watch from their comfortable office chairs in front of their 90-inch flat screen blaring FoxNews. No. Instead, they are now forced to the front lines as they watch projected sales numbers circle around the drain.
And yet, no matter how effective these financial boycotts have proven to be, we continue to be shot dead in the street with anger on our brain as we type away on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/Snapchat/Tumblr, the list goes on.
Within the past three days, there have already been multiple fatal, and unarguably illegal, shootings involving the men and women hired to protect and serve. If it wasn’t already apparent, people of color now live in fear that their parents, siblings, children, friends, or even themselves will not return home safe after a routine traffic stop.
Realistically, if we want real change to occur – and not just another polite Instagram post or press conference – we must bring attention to the financial buying power of people of color all over this country. Place your efforts into black owned businesses and financial institutions and watch effort for reform swiftly change.
Open your eyes! Your power is in your wallet!