“When I got home I bugged cuz under the tree/Was a letter from Santa and the dough was for me..” — Christmas in Hollis-RunDMC
*After a year of watching innocent young men and women get murdered by the cops , Hip Hop activist Rasheed Jackson had to do something about it. He decided to call for a national Christmas boycott. Just when it seemed that the boycott would be a success, something strange happened. The National United Negro League decided to nominate Santa Claus for its man of the year…
Every Christmas , somebody in the black community calls for a boycott . Since we spend millions of dollars on X-boxes and smart phones each year, holding a Yuletide shutdown would definitely get the attention of the shot callers in this country. According to the 2011 State of the African American Consumer Report, in a couple of years ,the buying power of the black community will reach 1.1 trillion dollars. With that much cash flowing through our hands, the obvious question is ,with the history of proposed economic sanctions against Wall Street ,why do they rarely work ?
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1963 Christmas Boycott that was called in response to the bombing of the 16th St. Baptist Church in Birmingham in which four little girls lost their precious young lives. The boycott was initiated by the group , Artists and Writers for Justice, which included Dick Gregory , James Baldwin, Ruby Dee and Louis Lomax. Although many people are familiar with the bombing, the boycott has been erased from history books.
In his essay, “We Can Change the Country ,”Baldwin said the reason for the boycott was “because we have lost the right-by the murders of our brothers and sisters-to be called a Christian nation..”
The boycott also attracted attention from civil rights leaders.
According to David J. Garrow in his book, Bearing the Cross, even Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, initially ,supported the idea by calling for a boycott of all products made in Birmingham.
But then, one of those funny things happened. The major civil rights groups decided not to support the boycott. An October 4 , 1963 article in the Meriden Connecticut Morning Record reported that the “nationwide boycott was rejected by the Council for United Civil Rights Leadership, which serves as the official spokesman for seven national civil rights groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Congress Of Racial Equality.”
Also, according to the November 1963 edition of the NAACP’s Crisis Magazine, the executive secretary of the NAACP, Roy Wilkins, said the reason that the organization punked out was “a general strike would not have any effect, directly on the Birmingham situation.” This despite a study by the Center for Research Marketing that reported an 89% approval rating for the boycott
Wilkins also said that it would be “unfortunate to further deprive Negro children already brutalized by segregation by denying them the annual joys of Christmas tree and toys.” Thus, transforming the hood into a virtual Whoville from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.
That excuse doesn’t make sense now, didn’t make sense then. So what really happened? Apparently ol’ St. Nick wasn’t’ the only one checkin’ who was being naughty or nice.
The Council for United Civil Rights Leadership was funded by white philanthropist Stephen Currier’s,’ Taconic Foundation. The foundation gave millions of dollars to the “major” organizations. According to Louis Lomax’s book The Negro Revolt , the foundation “refused to say where their money comes from.” Since Currier controlled the money flow, he was able to help shift the focus of the movement from riots, boycotts and protests to the more socially acceptable action of voting. The leaders were not gonna let the bombing of some kids interfere with their holiday hookups.
Things have not changed much in the last 50 years, as black leaders still kiss up to a white Santa in order to get a little somethin’ extra in their Christmas stockings.
Hip Hop artists aren’t much better. Although some of them carry the spirit of the Artists and Writers for Justice, many of even the most vocal rappers are not gonna risk angering Mr. Claus (this time the head of their record label) and miss out on new rims for their Bentleys.
Following a year of incidents that have infuriated African Americans from the Trayvon Martin murder trial verdict, the police killing of Jonathon Ferrell in Charlotte to the shooting of Renisha McBride in Detroit it is safe to say that a X-Mass boycott would receive overwhelming report. Also, in an economy where millions are still suffering economic hardships , it would give parents a way out, instead of having to tell Lil Tyrone that they ,simply, can’t afford a pair of new Jordan’s this year and he will have to settle for the Pick n’ Pay special.
But just as sure as it’s cold in the North Pole, if such a boycott would be called, you would see history repeating itself. Some grassroots activist would try to organize the black community for some economic payback only to be to be trumped by some leader with a lot more access to the media who would launch a counter campaign to urge black people go ballin’ like it’s goin’ outta style, this year.
As we approach 2014, we must reexamine our priorities and chose black leaders who would rather fight for the people than sit on Santa’s lap. We cannot move forward if we keep repeating the mistakes of the past.
It is time for a change.
Like Kurtis Blow said in “Christmas Rappin’ “
“This ain’t 1823/it aint even 1970…” (or 1963)
TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s website is No Warning Shots Fired.com. He is a frequent commentator on Militant Minded Radio which airs each Tuesday at 9PM EST on the Black Talk Radio Network . For more information contact [email protected]