Traditionally, (well, last year anyway) Okayplayer takes Black Friday as the opportunity to publish our Black Friday Must-Buy List and Black Friday BlackList of Must-Not-Buy items. Black Friday 2014 was no exception–or so we thought. Like many of you we were shocked at just how shocked we were by the grand jury’s non-indictment in Ferguson just a few days ago. And like many of you, we felt Black Friday was the moment to make a statement that America might actually understand, something that translated into dollars and cents, something that could not be blamed on President Obama or ISIS. I’m talking about the #BlackFridayBoycott.
Participating in the Boycott, however presents us with some more complicated practical and moral choices than it at first seems (fighting the power always does). As a black-owned business (Yup. Questlove is not just a name we like to drop; he is also the founder and still majority-owner of this company) Okayplayer is not itself even being targeted by the boycott. So we didn’t have to think twice about putting up our Holiday Capsule Collection in the OKP shop and blasting it out to the masses, just like we did last year. Black Friday 2014, however, is also Record Store Day. When the verdict came down, we had already published our Top 14 Essential Vinyl Releases For RSD and were about to push out our Fall Reading List of must-buy books. Neither of these lists have been vetted for what race the owners of the small labels, record shops and publishers check on a census form (yet almost all of them are promoting black music, black authors or black culture in some form). To put a finer point on the dilemma, we are very conscious that there ain’t no such things as halfway strikes. Yet, as DJs, promoters and small business people ourselves we are also very conscious that some of theses small labels, publishers and record shops and specialty vinyl retailers rely on Record Store Day to make their profit for the quarter and that including them in the boycott could put some of the smaller ones out of business entirely. It just didn’t seem to be in the spirit of the moment to punish them and walk back the endorsements we’d already made.
Which is why in place of our traditional Black Friday Lists, you find this letter from the editor, explaining why we are NOT publishing the Must-Buy and Must-Not-Buy lists but ARE publishing our Record Store Day and Essential Book lists (not to mention hawking these Okayafrica holiday sweatshirts). So if you are not spending a dime today in recognition of the #BlackFridayBoycott, we see you. In fact, we salute you. We still recommend you Read A Book and if anything, make note of these essential authors and titles for purchase on CyberMonday. And if you are laying out some of your hard-earned dollars, we respectfully urge you to honor the spirit of the boycott and make twice the statement by putting your buying power towards black wax and/or a black hoodie (and find here a list compiled by The Huffington Post of 36 other black-owned shops to check out ).
I have to admit, I was really looking forward to that must-not-buy list, though. Item #1: Cam’ron‘s ghetto celebrity-endorsed Ebola mask. But hell, that’s something you can go right on not-buying after the Boycott is concluded. Because as we should all know by now, Ebola is not an airborne disease. But ignorance is far more contagious.