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The Black Community Would Do Better With Less Christmas

As a kid, no one enjoyed Christmas more than I did.  In a large family with dad the only real income and mom going to school, we really didn’t have a lot of disposable income.  Money was extremely tight.  But somehow, mom and dad worked a miracle and provided a booming Christmas morning.  The tree would go up a week or two in advance, and a few gifts would always go under the tree.  These gifts were the handful of items from the kids to the parents or to each other.  But on the eve of Christmas, after the kids go to sleep, mom and dad pull out the gifts they’ve been buying all year long and hiding all around the house in places they knew we would never have the balls to venture, like the attic or in their personal closet, and spread them out on the floor around the tree.  They must’ve worked all night because on Christmas day we would wake up to a sea of gifts that buried the living room floor and spilled over into the dining room and the entry.  And from a very early age, I learned to associate Christmas with the ultimate in materialism.

Like I said, back then, mom and dad worked all year to provide us with the best Christmas possible without going broke.  These days, I don’t think many people have the discipline to buy gifts, pack them away, and spring them on the kids for Christmas.  Personally, when I buy someone a gift, I like to give it to them without delay.  Saving presents for Christmas is one of those DNA traits that I simply did not inherent from my parents.  But then again, my parent’s appreciation for Christmas is something else that I didn’t inherent.

While I enjoyed the materialism of Christmas as much as anyone else, I like to think that I developed a vigilant perspective for the non material characteristic of the holiday that gets more lost with each and every passing year.  Right after we swallow the last bite of that Thanksgiving turkey and put our knives and forks down, we head to our favorite shopping hangout to await the Black Friday sales of well hyped incredible offers and kick our consumption of all things material into high gear.  If left to our own devices, some of us will literally kill anyone who stands between us and what we think might be a good sale.  And if the store is opening at five in the morning, then there must be something good to buy inside.  Our need for immediate gratification through consumption is more addictive than crack and the corporate retailers are nothing more than pushers pimping materialism.  And like a drugged out junkie we are ready to sell our futures in order to get the credit necessary to get our next hit, trying to recapture that euphoria we all had as children when we got the goods from under the Christmas tree.  This is what Christmas has morphed into.

As the corporate world moves ever closer to redefine the meaning of Christmas in terms of dollars and cents, retailers rely more and more on the holiday of ultimate consumption for their profits.  Like fictitious vampires, corporate retailers cannot hurt us until we invite them into our lives to suck our wallets dry.  And yet, we the people cannot help but go glassy eyed when we hear no money down and no payments until hell freezes over, ready to sign our lives away for a few dollars.  And for what will it benefit us?

People should stop and ask what does such über consumerism mean for our individual communities.  I know when I go home to my predominantly black urban neighborhood no one is doing their Christmas shopping there.  Everybody in my neighborhood has to do their shopping in places that would more likely prefer the black patrons do their business, spend their money, and then get the hell out   We all have seen the story of how some stupid black criminal will shoplift or buy things with a stolen credit card, and many people are more than ready to make the connection that if one black person did it all black people do it.  So when black people walk into the retailer, chances are pretty good we’re the ones getting the security camera escort.

Every dime we spend outside of our community is a drain on our community’s resources.  The people who own the mega retail stores and promise that our lives will be better with the latest consumer gadget could not care any less about the many lives in the black community.  The handful of employees from the black community who earn just above minimum wage pales in comparison to the number of dollars that pour into these businesses from the black community.  We actually become coconspirators helping these companies to become ever larger and stronger and so much more profitable, only to have these companies take our money to help enrich the neighborhoods where they reside while the urban black community does without.  So why would we want to feed into this frenzy that continues to keep us on the fringe of an economy already ailing?

The holiday of Christmas is no good thing to the black community.  The tradition of Christmas has become little more than a celebration of the transfer of wealth from the community to the corporation.  And the black community isn’t even close to being a player in this game.  There are no black retailers that can compete with the dominant community retailers.  The transfer of wealth from the consumer to the retailer is a virtual duplicate of the process of wealth going from the black community to the white community.  So why should we participate in this game?

From a very early age I learned to love materialism as much as the next guy.  Some of my fondest holiday memories are of the toys and clothes I found under the Christmas tree.  But now that I’m a little older and a little wiser I realize that the love of materialism should take a backseat to the love of community and for family and a hope for a better future.  Black people need to learn that as a community collective we can’t provide for our future by hocking it away for a more immediate form of gratification in the now.  This modern version of Christmas defined by corporate America only magnifies the problems between the black community and the rest of America.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009 - Posted by | African Americans, Black Community, Black Culture, Black People, Life, Thoughts


  1. Very true indeed! Not to mention a lot of these companies just so happen to be predominantly to all white. And that is just a coincidence according to most people.

    These companies do nothing to promote the black community. It is just the opposite as you said. They are just sucking us dry and kicking us to the curb. And a lot of us are stupid enough to blow our hard earned dollars to continue this crap.

    They won’t be seeing a dime of my money and haven’t for years. I refuse to be a part of the massive money grab for businesses who don’t feel they need to ensure they have equal hiring practices.

    And to anyone who feels that these companies hire the “best” person for the job and that person just happens to always be white, give me a break. A company doesn’t become all white by accident.


    Comment by theblacksentinel | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Reply

  2. Out of curiosity, I wonder, from a theoretical business perspective….given the empty business space in a lot of black neighborhoods in major urban centers, would there be a benefit to opening up some fo these shops as a cross country chain located, operated and owned by members of said community, and like Walmart and all those other regional chain stores we see everywhere, if they all dealt with one power broker, if they could reduce the costs of goods enough to make it affordable within these usually poorer communities and create enough economic benefit within..or is my theoretical thinking here unable to progress beyond theoretical?

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Reply

  3. Thanks for the feedback Mike Lovell,

    The one thing my community lacks is the type of investment from corporate America that actually sustains a community. Not too far from where I live is the old Chevrolet Corvette plant. The whole factory has been converted into a truck depot and warehouse. It is surrounded by a number of old warehouses where a lot of business have moved in. But the businesses in these locations are simply taking advantage of the cheap warehouse space and do absolutely no interaction with the surrounding residential community. There are a lot of fast food joints and liquor stores, but these places are more detrimental than helpful to the community.

    The one exception is the Family Dollar store a few blocks away. And to the Family Dollar Corporation’s credit, they just launched an initiative to cleanup this particular store. It’s been there for a few years. It was built brand new from the ground up. It was just as clean and nice as any other Family Dollar. But sometime after it opened it started to decline. The attention to customer service was abysmal and the people there didn’t care. An employee was more likely to curse customers out for getting in the way rather than be helpful. And management was no better.

    Family Dollar got a corporate rep to come in and clean the place up a few months ago. Gone were the employees who would rather hold a conversation with each other than focus on customers. Gone were the dirty floors and the empty shelves. The place returned to its initially clean state. Corporate management could have written the place off and allow it to become another symbol of failure in the black community. But they didn’t let that happen. And for that, I’m seriously grateful.

    Corporate America can invest in the black community and make it a success. But all too often it seems like all they want to do is look the other way with an attitude that could be summed up as “that’s just black people for you.” Corporate America would do well if it would only make the effort. Unfortunately, effort requires work.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Reply

  4. Interesting, Glad to see someone decided to give a damn.

    Comment by Mike Lovell | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Reply

  5. Mike,

    To your original question. The problem with that scenario is that it takes a LOT of money to open up a large shopping businesses. And with banks not lending not to mention they weren’t lending to blacks for business purposes even when the economy WAS booming, there is no money for that.

    And the black communities unemployment numbers are outpacing the white communities as if we are driving a Ferrari while they are riding a bike. There aren’t enough people with enough capital to be able to pull that off. It is a nice sentiment but the problem is lack of investment. The cities, states and national government as a whole does not care enough to ensure investment into black communities.

    And we all heard it first hand right out of Obama’s mouth. Black people need to pick themselves up. Not rely on the government who doesn’t think twice to suck their tax dollars up. Taxation without representation.

    The government works hard to make sure that predominantly white areas get federal contracts, big business investments such as getting Boeing or car manufacturers to move to those areas. There isn’t any such work going on to ensure that areas rife with black folks have access to those jobs.

    Yet these car manufacturers and airlines will expect for blacks to be in line to dole out the dollars to line their pockets and build their businesses; even though we are being forgotten when it comes to working in their businesses. I say if they don’t want to invest in me and mine, I should not be investing in them and theirs. Plain and simple.

    Comment by theblacksentinel | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Reply

  6. Thanks for the feedback theblacksentinel,

    Yes the black community should stop supporting businesses that don’t support the black community. But if that happens, who’s left? Here in St. Louis, Monsanto built one of the finest YMCA locations in the black community. And I spoke in a previous comment about the Family Dollar investing and then re-investing in the black community. But those are just a couple to the many companies that invest heavily elsewhere. The corporate infrastructure for the black community to support itself just isn’t there. We have no choice but to buy from the corporate community that doesn’t give a damn about us. The best I can do is minimize my exposure. To avoid it all together is pert near impossible.


    Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Wednesday, December 2, 2009 | Reply

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