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Blacks Protest But Spend Their Money As Usual
12/3/2014 4:17:22 PM

By Barney Blakeney

When I heard that brothers and sisters, Black and white, in Ferguson, Mo. were mounting consumer boycotts of stores to protest the local grand jury’s refusal to indict Ferguson policeman Darren Wilson in the controversial shooting death of Michael Brown, I said to myself some Black folks finally got it. I’ve always thought there’s only two ways to get ‘The Man’ to do the right thing - either hit him in the mouth or the pocketbook.

So when I saw one of the protest organizers say they hoped to speak to those who hold power in their community in the language they most understand - money - I became elated. I’m convinced that Black folks have a lot more power to influence the things that affect our lives than we think. When we control our dollars we can control things like public education, economic opportunities and social progress. America is about the money, honey.

What’s the saying, follow the money? The money trail leads to the folks who set the policies and make the decisions about our lives. Never mind their racist attitudes and beliefs, when it comes to the money, them folks will do what it takes to make the money. There always will be the psychotic few whose hatred overwhelms their common sense, but the majority always will do what’s in their best interest financially.

Black folks should use that weakness to our advantage. We did it in the past. The sit-ins and boycotts of the 1950s and 1960s were not about sittin’ next to white folks and eatin’ in their restaurants. They were about equality and opportunity. Unfortunately, too many of us understood those gains to mean we then could ‘act white’.

In that misunderstanding, 50 years later we find ourselves dealing with the same inequities and racism we defeated back then.

I look at the yearlong Montgomery, Ala. Bus Boycott as a shining example of what Black folks can do economically to force the powers that be to ‘do the right thing’. Those folks made some serious sacrifices and organized to effect the change that changed America. Please Google ‘Montgomery Bus Boycott’ or look it up somewhere. We desperately need the reminder.

I can’t understand why Black folks go begging other folks with our hats in our hands for the equality and opportunity we purchase everyday.

Some of us couldn’t wait to get to the malls after Thanksgiving Day. A report says U.S. shoppers spent about $10 billion on Black Friday. The term is appropriate - an estimated 10 percent of that money was Black folks’ money. Proportionately, we spend more money for consumer goods than any other ethnic group.

Black folks spent $1 trillion last year for consumer goods. We buy stuff and business owners realize that. They target our communities for everything from cigarettes and alcohol to hair care products and cellphones. You name it, Black folks will buy it.

We buy cars like they’re essential for life, yet local car dealers together won’t contribute $50,000 a year to the United Negro College Fund which benefits some of the same negroes who are buying all those dang cars!

Heck, it’s only been a few years since Black folks could get jobs as car salesmen, so you know ain’t none of us serving as accountants and attorneys for those multimillionaire auto dealers.

We’re going into the Christmas buying season. Tis the season to be jolly. And those merchants who don’t look like us will be joyfully going to the bank with our money January 2. Why? Because Black folks will buy stuff just to brag about how much money they spent. They don’t give a damn about half the folks they’ll buy gifts for, and those folks won’t use half the stuff they receive. But we’ll spend some $62 billion to prove how prosperous we are.

And in January the South Carolina State Legislature will go into the 2015 legislative session to decide how little money it’s going to appropriate for public education as mandated by the state’s Supreme Court while simultaneously appropriating tens of millions more dollars to fund the hiring of additional prosecutors to help lock up thousands more Michael Browns in our communities.

While we’re spending money we don’t have to buy stuff we don’t need, the local chamber of commerce will flex its muscle to influence who will become the next superintendent of Charleston County schools. Their members have a vested interest in who will lead schools in a community that spends $500 million annually in education.

But we won’t use our consumer buying power to tell those merchants we must receive quality education for kids at North Charleston, Burke, Stall, Lincoln and St. Johns High schools. Black folks will buy anything except their freedom.

I was elated upon hearing about the economic boycotts in Ferguson until I heard one Black man asked if he planned to spend the day shopping reply that he would, then go home and hope things would go back to usual. Imagine that.

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