I had heard about the football team’s boycott briefly. Since I’m not a sports fan of any kind, I usually only hear about anything sports related briefly. The story did not blow up until the football team’s efforts were successful. University President Tim Wolfe resigned.
After Wolfe’s resignation was announced, I saw various tweets and other social media messages saying the success at Mizzou was proof that economics matter and this is why people should boycott Black Friday. That is wrong. Let’s discuss why.
First, in order for an economic boycott to be successful, it must be specific. Remember the Montgomery bus boycott of the Civil Rights Era? It was specific. The residents of Montgomery wanted buses to be desegregated. In order to communicate that message, they stopped riding the buses in Montgomery. The boycott did not end until the Supreme Court ruled that the segregation was unconstitutional forcing the City of Montgomery to comply with the desegregationists’ demands.
Next and most importantly, economic boycotts are successful when they deny the wrongdoers a benefit (money, attention, customers, etc.). That denial is what
makes forces the wrongdoers to change their ways. They may not agree with the cause but no one wants to lose money, good will, customers or any other benefit that is integral to their business. As we all know, financial pressure is real. That is why the Mizzou football team’s boycott worked. Football at Mizzou and schools like it generate millions for the larger institution. We cannot know what was on President Wolfe’s mind when he first heard about the hunger strike of graduate student Jonathan Butler. One student on a hunger strike because of racism on campus is certainly an issue. However I’m sure that the University President and the trustees realized that they had an actual problem when the revenue producing football team walked out and that is why the boycott worked.
The two reasons I just highlighted are why boycotting Black Friday will do nothing for the Black Lives Matter movement or police brutality. The issue is the systematic killing of unarmed Black people by police officers or those who are later not prosecuted by the Criminal Justice System. Of course political issues and economic issues intersect but boycotting still will not help. Let’s be honest, Walmart, Target, Macy’s, Best Buy nor any other retailer are the wrongdoers in this situation.
We know who killed Walter Scott. We know who killed Tamir Rice. We know who killed Trayvon Martin. We know who killed Eric Garner. We know who flipped over that desk at Spring Valley High. We know who killed Oscar Grant. We know who pinned that girl at the Texas pool party. Not getting your clothes or electronics for the low on Black Friday (or Cyber Monday) does not deprive the State of anything and that is the issue. That is why this problem persists. State protection is the best thing to have, mainly because it is insulted the way other things are not. The only way to economically deprive the State is to not pay taxes. There have been people who refused to pay taxes as an act of protest. In theory, that is a good idea. In reality, that is a great way to end up in jail.
That said, staying woke is important and it’s good to see people thinking about solutions. While not shopping on Black Friday may make you feel better, it says nothing about the killing of unarmed Black people. It does not effect the people who kill unarmed Black people. The act of boycotting is a very powerful and valuable tool however it is not applicable here. Maybe we should think about boycotting all the fast food restaurants that refuse to raise their minimum wage to $15/hour.
What are your thoughts on the events at Mizzou? Comment below and let me know!