The holidays, racism and inappropriate behavior
BOB LAW | 11/28/2013, 6 a.m.
Consider this as the holiday shopping season begins: Recently in New York, two young Black shoppers were arrested while shopping at the upscale Barneys clothing store. Nineteen-year-old Trayon Christian was arrested when he purchased a $350 belt, and Kayla Phillips was arrested when she purchased a $2,500 handbag.
Spending that much money made them suspect and subjected them both to arrest. And there are many reports of Black shoppers being followed and detained at the not-so-upscale Macy’s department store. In fact, the “Miracle on 34th Street” store actually has a detention cell on the premises.
As it turns out, both of these purchases were valid and legal. Now Black people are actually being arrested for trying to spend too much money.
The encounters that Black shoppers experience should have made it clear by now that excessive spending is not the passport to respect that many African-Americans thought it would be. Bling bling and designer loafers and handbags really do not increase your human value. The fact is that reckless and inappropriate spending only causes the rest of the world to hold Blacks in contempt while so many other groups build their fortunes with the trillions of dollars Blacks recklessly spend annually.
It is not how much you spend that demands respect, it is how well you control your spending that is important. It’s when you refuse to spend that you influence corporate policy makers. As Claud Anderson points out in the book “Powernomics: The National Plan to Empower Black America,” a group’s ability to compete is determined by its internal cohesiveness and its ability to work in its own self-interest. Spending freely outside of the Black community will by no means lead to increased respect for African-Americans.
It is meaningless to try to impress whites with how much any given Black individual is eager to spend. Empowering the Black community as a whole remains the essential task. As a people, African-Americans will have to take control of our spending in a disciplined and strategic manor and refuse to spend with people who really don’t deserve our dollars.
According to the Nielsen Black consumer study released in September 2013, Black consumer spending remains at an all-time high, with Blacks outspending every other ethnic group in every category. At the same time, many American corporations display an alarming disregard for Black Americans.
Recent research says that African-Americans eat more fast food than any other race. Additionally, the research points out that there are six times as many fast-food restaurants in Black neighborhoods as there are in white neighborhoods, and young Blacks remain the primary target for fast-food giants like McDonald’s and Burger King. In spite of the $20,000-$25,000 spent by Blacks on a daily basis in each of the fast-food stores in the Black community, the burgers being sold to young Blacks are most often a mixture of fat, bone, connective tissue, pink slime, water and silicone chemicals used in breast implants.
What’s more, the burgers could be as little as 2 percent actual meat, with sodium and saturated fat levels that have been called dangerously high. If that offends you, take control of your dollars and stop spending so freely with corporations that show such a depraved disregard for Black life. If Black people are offended by the way they are being treated, Black consumers will have to stop spending so recklessly with those companies that offend.