Unintended Consequences: What happens with a Black Friday Boycott?
In light of the disappointment some people have faced as a result of the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury decision not to bring charges against Officer Wilson in what some have described as the unjustified shooting of Michael Brown, there has been a call for a boycott on Black Friday, which means no shopping. Also known as “No Justice, No Profit” boycott, this movement is geared to serve as an economic protest.
While the idea of a protest is definitely viable and fully supported by the US Constitution, I have a hard time understanding how a “no shopping” boycott will serve any legitimate purpose. I see it as only harming two groups of people the most: consumers and store employees. Black Friday is an important business tool that generates lots of revenue for these companies. Most profit-making companies rely on Black Friday to help them meet their quarterly and annual goals. If they fall short of those goals, that will likely be reflected through higher prices. Additionally, making a company lose profits could harm the employees, who already are receiving a paltry, de minimis pay. They probably won’t see a bonus or promotion. Lost revenue could also mean these employees could risk being laid off. Additionally, the economy could dry up, resulting in fewer people getting jobs or also resulting in people with jobs spending less due to concern about the economy. That could lead to a recession again.
These are the likely consequences an economic boycott could cause. If XYZ Incorporated engaged in some egregious act, then I might support an economic boycott against that company. But to promote a boycott of all businesses is something that I can’t grasp my head around. Moreover, I don’t get how a financial boycott will impact this situation in Ferguson anyhow, for that’s where the present problem is. Of course, many will say that the problem is bigger than Ferguson and is on a more national level. But that’s another whole issue right there for discussion at another time.
I don’t plan on doing any Black Friday shopping anyhow, irrespective of Ferguson, and if that’s you too then great. But if you had plans of spending your bucks on Friday, go ahead and spend them. Actually, instead of promoting a boycott such as this, I’d prefer to see that energy spent organizing more public forums on race such as the YWCA forum on race held recently in Minneapolis or the NAACP forum on race held in Portland. Both of these forums brought citizens together with leaders of the respective cities to listen to concerns and engage in healthy, lively dialogue. There doesn’t seem to be any interest in such a thing until some huge incident occurs like the Ferguson incident. Racial tensions are real every day, even when you don’t talk about them – especially when you don’t talk about them. These feelings just fester and smolder and eventually, emotions implode, causing the individuals to react and cause the types of violent outbursts we’re seeing throughout the country.
If as a society we’d pay more attention to everyone all the time, rather than just when something happens (or when it’s time to ask for people’s vote), maybe things will be better. Anything seems to be better than a financial boycott.