Boycotting while black: The hotep pyramid scheme that needs to be severely revised
If you're like me, you've received interesting texts or GroupMe messages suggesting that we as black people need to boycott certain products, stores and institutions. While the origins of the message are unknown, the rhetoric of the bombastic proposal is congruent with hotep black nationalist culture. Hoteps are said to only be concerned for the "freedom of cis-het black men," and they "deny the existence of rape culture and erase women, trans and queer lives" in an effort to achieve black nationalism. They believe the intersection of identities draw attention from the "real issues."After the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, pyramid scheme-esque messages encouraging black people to boycott random corporations spread like wildfire
Similar to a pyramid scheme, these boycott messages are being spread without knowledge of their perceived impact, requesting those involved to bring their friends into the mix while offering little to no tangible outcomes
Here is an example of one:
**My friends, Please be extremely selective in who you share this with especially right now at the front of this. We need to gain traction.**
THIS WAS SENT TO ME. PLEASE READ THIS AND PASS IT ON! DO NOT "share" or "post" this on social media! THIS MUST BE DONE in silence! PEOPLE THIS BOYCOTT IS NOT TO BE TAKEN LIGHTLY!!!!! WE MUST COLLECTIVELY REFUSE to sit back and WATCH ANY MORE BLOODSHED WITHOUT JUSTICE AND CHANGE!!!
Therefore, as of July 8, 2016, 11:59 p.m., PLEASE JOIN OTHERS ACROSS THE COUNTRY COLLECTIVELY AGREEING TO BOYCOTT one major retailer for 30 days at a time. The retailer, TARGET, will be the FIRST COMPANY IMPACTED by our boycott. We are simply asking ANYONE WHO IS ACTIVELY INTERESTED in MAKING A SOCIAL, ECONOMIC AND POLITICAL STANCE AGAINST THE UNJUST SLAUGHTERING OF BLACK LIVES, to REFRAIN FROM SPENDING ANY MONEY AT TARGET. Please SAVE any money you would have spent at Target in your banking account(s) until August 8, 2016, 11:59 p.m.
We are also asking people not to purchase any Coca Cola products until August 9, 2016, 12:01 a.m. And finally, organizing at least ONE MILLION BLACK PEOPLE to move $100 to BLACK OWNED BANKS, such as, Citizens' Bank, One United, or ANY BLACK OWNED BANK IN YOUR AREA.
We are NOT POSTING this on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, OR ANY FORM OF SOCIAL MEDIA, but instead, SHARING IT via text messages or word of mouth. Hopefully, you will PASS THIS MESSAGE TO AT LEAST SEVEN PEOPLE, who will in turn, reach out to another SEVEN that will do the same."
Here is another:
In theory, this is a good idea.The University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth projects "black buying power" to grow to $1.4 trillion by 2020. By forcing corporations (with lobbying influence) to recognize that the black people (by contributing to their revenue) contributing to their revenue are unjustly killed by law enforcement, police reform on federal and state levels can become a reality. But these random "calls to action" are incredibly problematic and disorganized
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These boycotts are impractical because they claim to rely on a code of silence.What is the logic behind silent boycotts? Giving a list of demands to specific companies allots space for constructive dialogue and alliances. If corporations do not know their black buyers have complaints, how can they begin to adjust policies to meet concerns? These invisible organizers can't just come out the cut like "Hey Target, remember that 3 percent decline in revenue at 7:43 p.m. last Thursday? Well, that's because of an unlisted group of black people who decided to boycott your company."
Who are we really trying to target? Does this really help us?We need to know the specific ways these corporations contribute to state-sanctioned violence against black people. How is Target complicit in the "slaughtering of black lives?" Is Target being picked for a real reason, or are hoteps still salty about their policy of gender-inclusive bathrooms? How exactly is Coca-Cola contributing to white supremacy?
Don't tell poor people to boycott the cheapest grocery store. Don't tell people to boycott unless you're ready to help provide for them' These proposed boycotts do not provide alternative forms of consumption for participants. The Montgomery Bus Boycott was successful because the Montgomery Improvement Association provided alternative transportation for black boycotters who relied on the bus to get to work. Shaming black people into this random boycott but not providing alternatives to sustain their lives is classist
— Brotha B (@BlakeDontCrack) July 12, 2016 '
This doesn't mean boycotting is useless.Contrary to recent oratory from Chrisette Michele, boycotting is still effective. For example, in an effort to stand "against Israel until it complies with international law and Palestinian rights," the Bond, Divestment and Sanctions movement nonviolently protests Israeli occupation. Through an academic and consumer boycott, coalitions of individuals resist illegal occupation
Supporting black business is great, but preying on black people through pyramid schemes and messy boycotts is not. Instead of sending threads of unorganized ideas, boycott BP because they hired mostly black prisoners to clean up their oil spill in 2010. Boycott Walmart, because they do not pay their workers a living wage and purchase products from abusive farmers. Boycott Chick-Fil-A because of their homophobic tendencies
Get organized and identify specific companies who contribute to hetero-white supremacist oppression. But please, for our collective sanity, stop sharing sloppy calls to boycott random companies at 11:29 p.m. on the third Tuesdays of every other month