"Take Your Mind Back" Black Friday:
Countering X-Mass Exploitation
Min. Paul Scott
For Lakesha Jenkins, it was a yearly tradition, get up at 3AM to make a mad dash to the mall in order to catch the early bird specials. This year was no different, as she was determined to not let rain, snow, nor a repossessed car deter her from her mission. With a look of economic ecstasy on her face she went from store to store grabbing everything from the new talking Nicki Minaj Barbie Doll for her niece, Takesha to the Tyler Perry Box set for her Aunt Sally. Exhausted, she returned home late that evening, only to find an eviction notice posted on the door of her one bedroom apartment. Tears rolled down her face as she remembered that she had just spent the last of her rent money on a Sean Jean sweater for her unemployed boyfriend, Tyrone...
The Friday after Thanksgiving is the busiest shopping day of the season. Just like clock work millions of black folks swoop down like hungry vultures on shopping malls across the country, anxious to grab any prey with a reduced price tag sticker. Known, as "Black Friday" it is also the happiest time of year for greedy merchants, as they look forward to making up any money that has been lost because of a bad economy. As NC activist Damon Harris says, "They call it "Black Friday" because they get all that money from Black people."
Harris isn't off the mark with his assessment.
According to the late Dr. Ishakamusa Barashango in his book, Afrikan People and European Holidays: A Mental Genocide, "Black people must understand that Christmas supports an economic system which seldom, if ever, works in our best interest. " So, the issue here is not just how much we spend but on what we spend it.
Although the "yule tide" season is supposed to be a celebration of "Peace on Earth" many Black parents don't see the contradiction between singing carols about "goodwill towards men" and buying their children cds that glamorize the destruction of Afrikan people. This year we must seriously ask ourselves how much money will African Americans spend on music that promotes the death of Black men, disrespects Black women and dumbs down Black children.
It is no surprise that since the early European slave traders used such things as rum and firearms to finance the Trans-Atlantic slave trade that white exploiters of Black culture would now use music that glorifies alcohol abuse and gun play to condemn African Americans to mental slavery in the 21st century.
The European system of African exploitation is like a giant octopus with many tentacles, with each one playing a specific role; the role of the music industry being to dumb down the masses so they will be easy prey for blood sucking corporations whose business motto is "a fool and his money are soon parted."
As Dr. Claude Anderson wrote in his book, "Black Labor/White Wealth, " Black music is the basis for one of the world's wealthiest industries. The wealth and power of the music industry offer the most compelling reasons for Blacks to recapture control of this cultural resource."
While the music industry may be a major player in this game, it is not alone.
Over the last five years we have suffered from the "ghettorization of black literature" as we have seen writers who promote books about sex tales and drug sells prosper while Black owned bookstores that specialized in promoting books that raised the consciousness of Afrikan people were forced to close their doors for lack of support from a community that claims to always be in a quest to find solutions for closing the academic achievement gap between Black children and their peers of other ethnic groups.
It must also be noted that the fashion industry plays it's part as well. Instead of buying clothing that celebrates our rich African culture and its many heroes and heroines, many black folks are more than happy to walk around like human billboards promoting everything from Home Depot to Mountain Dew not to mention T-shirts glamorizing Scarface, mob figures and "gangsta rap" agents of white supremacy.
Perhaps the saddest part of being an African in America this time of year is coming face to face with the realization of the millions of dollars that we spend to fund our own oppression.
This is why a coalition of activists, artists, writers and others are determined this year to break the vicious cycle of economic oppression. Beginning this "Black Friday" we are launching the "Take Your Mind Back" Campaign; an effort to encourage African Americans to channel their resources into areas that will enrich the Black community instead of helping to destroy it.
Instead of spending money on music that promotes the worst aspects of the Black experience, we are encouraging members of the community to seek out those artists with empowering messages, whether it be "old school" artists such as Public Enemy and X-Clan or new artists such as Pittsburgh's Jasiri X and members of (MIA) Music Is Alive Campaign. Also, instead of purchasing "hood dvds" that glamorize Black on Black violence, we should seek out documentaries such as "Operation Small Ax," executive produced by JR, Minister of Information of the Prisoners of Conscious Committee, which explores issues such as police brutality in the Black community.
To further counter the dumbing down effect of corporate America, instead of buying books that degrade Afrikan people and do nothing to stimulate us intellectually, we should not only purchase the classic writings of our late Black scholars such as Dr. Carter G. Woodson and Dr. Amos Wilson but also the works of a new generation of Afro-centric writers whose books can teach us how to survive and prosper in the 21st century.
If we all grasp the spirit of Harambee and pull together, we will not only make a change for this season but for many, many seasons to come.
This year instead of singing "Dreaming of a White Christmas" like Bing Crosby we should be singing songs to "emancipate ourselves from mental slavery," like Bob Marley.
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired.com. He can be reached at (919) 451-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org