“Black Friday” claimed it’s first victim when an employee at a Walmart store in Long Island, New York was trampled to death right as doors opened. This is disgusting and I’m feeling sick to my stomach. I’m not trying to sound righteous here. People that know me know that I love bargains. Who doesn’t but what a way to die? And all this happening in the same time of the global tragedy of the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.
And sadly, even a person being trampled to death by hundreds isn’t going to stop this “cultural expression.” Look for a big lawsuit and then, business as usual. I’ve reposted an entry I shared on Sojo last week about Buy Nothing Day. I want folks to clearly know the entry isn’t coming from the angle of “bash White folks” but rather a call a reflection on privilege – which certainly includes me. While I support Buy Nothing Day, I also understand the complex nature of our world economics. Buying Nothing isn’t the answer but I love what the cause stands for: Re-examine our consumption.
If that’s one of the natural results of the economic downturn, it’s a significant plus.
Here’s the news from NY Dail News:
A Wal-Mart worker died after being trampled when hundreds of shoppers smashed through the doors of a Long Island store Friday morning, police and witnesses said.
The 34-year-old worker, employed as an overnight stock clerk, tried to hold back the unruly crowds just after the Valley Stream store opened at 5 a.m.
Witnesses said the surging throngs of shoppers knocked the man down. He fell and was stepped on. As he gasped for air, shoppers ran over and around him.
“He was bum-rushed by 200 people,” said Jimmy Overby, 43, a co-worker. “They took the doors off the hinges. He was trampled and killed in front of me. They took me down too…I literally had to fight people off my back.”…
Before police shut down the store, eager shoppers streamed past emergency crews as they worked furiously to save the store clerk’s life.
I posted this on Sojo last week:
All of you who have a pulse know that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the single most crazy shopping day in the United States. It is simply called “Black Friday,” and the lines to get into most places are ridunkulous. And is it just me or does it seem like there’s a lot of posts on the blogosphere recently about Buy Nothing, Make Something, or simply Do Something – so I thought I’d write something. I got in line on Black Friday once seven years ago to get a digital camera for the church in hopes of saving our church a few dollars and I will NEVER do it again. Heck, I love the church but not that much. If it was a camera for Jesus, I’d do it, but not for the church. To give you a glimpse of how crazy things can be, check out this Wal-Mart stampede clip on YouTube from a recent Black Friday.
So, I’ve been a fan of the Buy Nothing Day movement for several years but have had some recent reservations, or at least reflections. If you don’t know what BND is, it speaks to the issue of OVERCONSUMPTION:
Buy Nothing Day is an informal day of protest against consumerism observed by social activists. In 2007, Buy Nothing Day falls on November 23rd in North America and November 24th internationally. It was founded by Vancouver artist Ted Dave and subsequently promoted by the Canadian Adbusters magazine.
The first Buy Nothing Day was organized in Vancouver in September of 1992 “as a day for society to examine the issue of over-consumption.” In 1997, it was moved to the Friday after American Thanksgiving, which is one of the top 10 busiest shopping days in the United States. Outside of North America, Buy Nothing Day is celebrated on the following Saturday. Despite controversies, Adbusters managed to advertise Buy Nothing Day on CNN, but many other major television networks declined to air their ads. Soon, campaigns started appearing in the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, New Zealand, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway. Participation now includes more than 65 nations…[from wikipedia]
So in years past, I’ve attempted to do my part — not just on Buy Nothing Day but to simply consume less. I know numerous folks — friends, neighbors, churchgoers, and fellow bloggers that are supporters of Buy Nothing Day. I get it, support it, and stand with them — sort of.
Why my reservations? I’m still moved by a conversation I had with a friend a couple years ago that challenged my support for Buy Nothing Day. This friend who is African-American said some interesting stuff [paraphrasing]:
Buy Nothing Day is basically a thing of and for white folks and comfy middle class and rich folks who have had the privilege of consumption their whole life. And now, they can afford to start things like Buy Nothing Day. True, it speaks to the issue of overconsumption, but how much of it is to appease their guilty consciences? I’m also very skeptical and cynical of Christians who’ve jumped on this bandwagon — the “enlightened evangelicals” who also come from a place of privilege. Stuff like this sickens me because it has completely no idea about the plight of the poor, low-income folks, and some minorities that are just trying to survive.
The thing that got to me was the story he shared about some of his family and friends from different racial backgrounds who simply need to make many of their major purchases on that day. Specifically, he shared about his uncle and aunt. They get in line every year in the frigid cold in the Midwest hours before the retail store opens at 5 or 6 a.m. because it’s the only way they’re able to get their kids the necessary technology gear to keep up.
I’m not dismissing the cause behind Buy Nothing Day, Make Something Day, and [insert cause] Day. We need to speak to and address this because us Westerners, and particularly Americans [including me], are just plain gluttonous.
But let’s be real here.
Black Friday shopping means different things for different folks. For many of us, it’s a game, a sport, a blog topic, and an event we mark, but for others it’s a matter of necessity. This is why I have reservations about Buy Nothing Day. Perhaps the majority of us should sincerely adopt Buy Nothing Day and let those who truly need the “doorbusters” be the first in line — for a change.