“Black Friday” and the racism of racism
Imagine the cries of racism if a “White” Mayor had said that he or she planned to organize a day to promote and help “White owned businesses” survive in today’s economy. But you don’t have to imagine that a Black Mayor, Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot, would organize a day to help Black Owned businesses, because she did. Singling out and promoting one race is racism and these days all we are seeing is the racism of the racism, a form of racism in which those who claim to be victims are in fact the worst offenders of racism
By Ray Hanania
Can you imagine a White Mayor in a suburb of Chicago putting out a press release to promote “White Shop Friday” that reads:
“Supporting out small businesses has been a priority of mine since even before taking office. This inspiring partnership allows Chicagoans to discover the hundreds of White-owned businesses in our city, driving investment dollars that are needed now more than ever, and giving everyone a chance to make this new shopping holiday a huge success.”
The screams of “racism” would be deafening. I can imagine many African American activists protesting and demanding equal rights, calling for that White Mayor to be fired, and denouncing any group that partners in the “White Shop Friday” program.
Of course, that wouldn’t happen. Most White people know that if they promote their race too much, they will be denounced with an assortment of pejorative nouns.
Yet, no one complained when Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot put out a press release on Nov. 17, just before Thanksgiving, to partner with the Chicago Urban League and other PR firms associated with the mayor to promote “Black Shop Friday” on Nov. 27, which is traditionally described as “Black Friday.”
Mayor Lightfoot said, “Supporting Chicago’s small businesses has been a priority of mine since even before taking office. This inspiring partnership allows Chicagoans to discover the hundreds of Black-owned businesses in our city, driving the investment dollars that are needed now more than ever, and giving everyone a chance to make this new shopping holiday a huge success.”
Is the term “Black Friday” racist? People use the term to describe the day after Thanksgiving, usually a day off of work, as being the traditional start of the Christmas shopping season.
Forget that Christmas isn’t a religious holiday anymore for Christians. It’s an event to put profits in the pockets of business owners.
The term “Black Friday” refers to the use of a positive business phrase. “In the Black” means you have profits, as contrasted to the negative phrase “in the red,” which means you owe money.
There was a “Black Friday” on Sept. 24, 1869 that described the stock market crash that day. Some have argued “Black Friday’s” origins originate from 19th Century slavery sales. I just don’t believe people used the term “Black” to describe African Americans in the 19th Century.
I remember “Black Friday” in the 1970s when I worked at Ford City during high school. The day after Thanksgiving was a big hoped-for sales day, when people, who spent the day before at home around the table eating Turkey dinners, got out of the house to go shopping to get the best deals for Christmas.
I bought my first real computer, an IBM PC Jr., at a warehouse sale near Ford City, organized by Carsons, Pirie Scott, now just simply called Carsons, in 1985.
I wasn’t thinking of race or racism. I wanted a computer.
Mayor Lightfoot has added an unfortunate racist element to “Black Friday” by using the City of Chicago’s powerful resources to promote African American businesses, rather than, say, to promote all small businesses.
There is this ugly double standard in which racism is OK when it is directed against others, especially against White people.
I’m Arab American. I take a pejorative beating from every side, Whites and Blacks, even from Hispanics, and Asians. But we know Mayor Lightfoot doesn’t care about all races.
I would be offended if the mayor declared “Arab Friday,” because I wouldn’t be thinking of her wanting to help Arab owned stores. She didn’t. In May, following the murder of George Floyd in Minnesota, protestors rampaged through Chicagoland looting 12 Arab-owned stores, several of which were burned to the ground.
Instead of helping those Arab American store owners, Mayor Lightfoot ignored them. They were left to recover on their own and tolerate social media racism against them on Facebook and Twitter — social media which, by the way, did not censor racist references to Arab store “fire sales.”
We’re never going to get past racism when officials like Mayor Lightfoot single out one race over all others. Why not call it “Small Business Friday?” Why not speak out about the needs of all the needy?
Well, for one simple reason? Racism is politics in Chicagoland. “Bad politics” when used by one group and “Good politics” when used by another.
That distinction is pretty sad.
You can’t stop racism by being racist. Those who use racism as a shield for everything know that but don’t care.
(Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and political columnist. This column was originally published in the Southwest News Newspaper Group in the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News, The Reporter Newspapers. For more information on Ray Hanania visit www.Hanania.com or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)