I admit it: Black Friday both depresses and scares the sh*t out of me. I see images of people flooding stores, running over others, to get a “deal” for Xmas presents…. And it makes me kind of hopeless because yea, CEOs become richer and there are no elves that make these presents, just thousands of people who are in horrible work conditions(I know not all, but a significant number) to make ‘presents that show our love’ a reality.
Yes, I’m ruining most folks’ Black Friday by noting this, but it’s something I can’t not share. This is what happens when the parents who raised me basically told me they didn’t feel like ‘buying’ into Christmas in order to make the 1% richer while millions of people in the USA go more into debt and become more stressed trying to ‘prove’ their love to family and friends through objects that most likely have a genealogy embedded in capitalist exploitation.
My biggest challenge is convincing my family (in-laws, extended, etc) why I do not have a strong preference to “celebrate” it in the traditional [neoliberal capitalist] way without being read as “mean” or “fundamentalist”. I already got flack when my children told one of them that there is no Santa Claus (because I showed them the horrible conditions in which most toys are made–). If it were JUST me and my kids I personally would not buy them anything, but life is never that simple when there is family involved who sincerely want to show their love and how they celebrate through buying gifts. (I want to acknowledge that I do know many folk buy during Black Friday because they can finally afford something they need that has nothing to do with buying a gift for a friend or family member to show their love.)
Of course this isn’t just during Christmas, as most products marketed to us as “the cure to everything– including how to show your friends and family you love them” *most* of the time comes out of systemic violence of humans, non-human animals, and natural resources. What would Jesus do on Black Friday? He would probably protest the capitalist system and fight for the most vulnerable who are its prey and not be running to BestBuy to get that 65″ flat screen tv that is on sale.
Black Friday/Christmas is a touchy subject for me to bring up, so I already expect my view to be the minority in this and illicit some anger from what I have written.
For Black Friday, I like the idea of donating as a monthly contributor to an organization or movement that is fighting for the most vulnerable and trying to dismantle the system that continue to benefit the 1% the most.
Dr. A. Breeze Harper has a PhD in Critical Food Geographies. She is the creator of The Sistah Vegan Project and the editor of the ground-breaking anthology, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak On Food, Identity, Health, and Society, is a sought-after speaker, writer, and consultant at Critical Diversity Solutions (www.criticaldiversitysolutions.com).
Her most recently published book is Scars: A Black Lesbian Experience in Rural White New England (Sense Publishers 2014). Scars interrogates how systems of oppression and power impact the life of protagonist 18 year old Savannah Sales, the only Black teenager living in an all white and working class rural New England town. In 2018, her latest book project will be published, tentatively titled Black Mama Scholar: On Black Feminism, Food Ethics, And Toddler Tantrums .
Overall, Dr. Harper’s work focuses on how systems of oppression- namely racism and normative whiteness- operate within the USA. She uses food and ethical consumptions cultures, within North America, to explore these systems. Her favorite tools of analysis are critical whiteness studies, decolonial world systems theory, Black feminisms, critical race feminism, critical animal studies, and critical food studies. She is known for using engaged Buddhism as the choice method to explain her research and broach these often difficult topics of power, privilege, and liberation.
Dr. Harper has been invited to deliver keynote addresses and lectures at universities and conferences throughout North America. Her talks explore how and why people have unique relationships to food and wellness and how these relationships are impacted by race, socio-economic class, gender, sexuality and physical abilities.
If you are interested in having A. Breeze Harper speak at your college, conference or organization please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about her on her author and publications page here.