Effectively Responding to Ferguson: No Justice? No Profit. #BoycottBlackFriday

Naomi Wolf said that, in order to have successful protest, it needs to be illegal. It needs to stop traffic.  I was born in the early 60s. By the time I was of age to mix it up, I was caught up in the Steve Biko and anti-Thatcher protests of the late 80s and early 90s in the UK. It was a time when social disorder – the spectre of riots and property damage – probably did effect a certain level of social change. But I’m sad to say, those days are gone.

The militarization of the police and the fact that civil order is now no longer considered essential to the smooth running of a system means that it just isn’t effective any more. I’m not a queasy person. I would never call for peaceful, legal protest in response to the Grand Jury decision regarding the killing of Michael Brown. Mostly, because I’m positive that peaceful, legal protest will have no effect. Neither will stopping traffic. Neither will enraged rampaged, burning and looting through neighborhoods that, quite frankly, most people in power don’t care about anyway.

To believe this will result in any meaningful change to a system that has sanctioned the daily repetitions, the cumulative obscenity of outrageous, undeniably racist acts of state enacted violence, and judicial misconduct against Black Americans is ludicrous.

The sad thing is that the only thing that is going to prompt significant change anymore is a serious and sustained economic response. Please recall the last 20 years and exactly which types of ‘disaster’ motivated those within the structures of power to act. They have been economic. The amount of debate, money, effort and legislation that went into responding to the 2008 economic crisis far outpaced any other response to a ‘disaster’.  Take note of that.

To put it bluntly, THAT is where they can be hurt and THAT is where you need to hit them. There will be no restructuring and retraining of police departments, no overhaul of the justice system, no reconsideration of responses until it is economically unfeasible to sustain the present status quo.

I do understand the desire to ‘burn it down.’ I really do. I am, in my heart of hearts, a ‘burn the fucker down’ kind of person. And if it worked – if it led to any significant change, I’d be advocating it. But I am also old enough to have seen how little the Rodney King riots effected, in terms of change. How little the Trayvon Martin protests changed anything. These days, you could burn down Wall Street, and they’d just claim insurance and move their operations to Luxemburg.

I am not American. I am also, admittedly, a bit of a Marxist, and I know if you are American, that label probably makes you want to dismiss me completely. However, please hear me out.

I do believe that it is likely that the most effective ways to prompt serious, tangible change is to have a total work and consumption stoppage, and to try and persuade as many people who say they actually CARE about justice to participate.  One day – do not work, and buy NOTHING.

Yes, it will hurt. It hurts everyone economically. But for the people who are most affected by the kind of racism and injustice typified by Ferguson, it’s apt to remember that they were hurting economically LONG before Michael Brown was killed. It hurts the system more. And it scares the people who have the power to lobby for legislation much more than burning down a salon or a liquor store, or the spectre of ‘Black rage’.

Please support the Black Friday Boycott. Read more about it here: http://www.blackoutforhumanrights.com/about-blackout.html

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