Across the United States, in cities large and small, the campaign to not shop this Christmas season in protest against police murder and brutality, gentrification and devaluation of our labor continues with the determination and energy of activists and community.
According to the latest data, the campaign has had a significant impact on this season’s sales, and if history is any teacher, a far more impactful affect than commercial forces would even want us to know.
The December 12th Movement joined this campaign as soon as we returned from the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March and heard Minister Louis Farrakhan’s call to not shop and spread the pain to those who daily inflict us with suffering.
The important thing about this campaign is the fact that it gives our people and our allies in struggle a weapon with which to give material voice to our anger. It gives us an action that every single one of us can use to fight back with no excuses.
Let us be frank. There is not a day that goes by that we do not hear, speak or read about another police killing, televised murder and/or cover-up from the highest levels of government. Each day passes with new levels of degradation—yes, the homeless, now at the airports, are in fact us. The workers denied a decent wage are us. The families being economically jailed in unaffordable housing are us. The children who Supreme Court Justice Scalia labeled unable to compete with white students at the best schools are ours.
Renowned civil rights lawyer Conrad Lynn, who is no longer with us, once mentioned that Malcolm X instructed him to understand and speak the language of your enemy if you want to be heard. Lynn recounted Malcolm telling him that if you do not speak the language your enemy understands, then you can be right in their face screaming and they will look right pass you with the posture of indifference. However, if you speak in a language they understand, then you can be miles away and whisper and they will cover their ears to protect their eardrums. Malcolm X told Lynn that there were two things white folks understood: Money and Violence. Speak either and rest assured you will be heard.
This historic “Malcolm X lesson” takes on importance in our current campaign through Christmas and beyond regarding the weapons for justice that we must re-learn to use and wage our struggle with if we choose to address our conditions.
Our novelist and social commentator Langston Hughes once wrote, “We need long-distance runners.” We need ones prepared to consistently take the message and forms of struggle to our people and are inspired by the courage, determination and resistance of our people. We need ones that see victory and are not overcome by setbacks.
The calls to not shop this Christmas and to keep our money in our pockets demand of us that in the struggle for justice, we, the people, are the “Or Else.” Therefore, let us stay in the streets, let us stay in front of our people with the message that we can control our lives. We can be self-determining and speak a language that our enemies will hear and feel.
This Christmas boycott campaign points to the road ahead as our community flexes and trains itself in the use of its economic power as a political weapon for justice. Remember the sacrifices of the Montgomery Boycott and Cairo, Ill. Our road ahead will demand no less. This Christmas, we will not shop! In Black History Month 2016 on Feb. 1, STRIKE!