Black Thursday

The holiday season is fast approaching. For many this means spending much-needed time with family. For others it means taking part in religious traditions with themes such as hope, peace and charity.

No matter what religious background you come from, how you celebrate the holidays or who you spend them with, there seems to be a force that unites Americans of all creeds, political parties and economic classes: a rampant plague of consumerism.

Now I’m not talking about the consumerism that makes it socially expectant of you to buy your girlfriend some gift card or your brother a cheap book from Powell’s around Christmas time. The exchanging of gifts is a time-honored tradition which reflects good wishes and can serve as a reminder that a person hasn’t forgotten your existence.

I personally have no particular issues with deals, sales and marketing that appeals to cheerful folks excited about the holidays. What concerns me is this rampant push for earlier, cheaper, adrenaline-pumping door-busters at the expense of the laborer who has to sit there and stare as hordes of people trample one another when they should be with their families.

I could go on and on about how the attitudes and actions of some Americans on Black Friday are borderline despicable and make Americans look like a stampede of drug-induced buffalo who have no problem with watching their fellow man get trampled as long as they get the newest Nintendo product first. I could divulge my distaste for massive consumerism and write about how we promote a culture that values material possessions over much more meaningful aspects of humanity.

However, while I am disgruntled with the existence of Black Friday in almost every way possible, it is not what has me bothered this holiday season.

Rather, I find this creeping push to start Black Friday earlier and earlier to be inherently wrong and something which directly hurts the dignity of workers. Now we have Black Thursday.

For a long time, it was common for Black Friday to actually start on Friday, usually around 6 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving. But in recent years, opening hours have been pushed earlier and earlier. In 2011, retailers such as Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Kohl’s started their Black Friday sales at midnight rather than at the usual morning opening time.

In 2012, several retailers including Walmart, Kmart, Toys R Us and Sears began their Black Friday deals at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving day.

This year, many retailers are taking this push to a new extreme and are opening at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving day. This means that many Walmart, Best Buy, Khol’s, Macy’s and Kmart employees will not be able to spend time with family, friends and loved ones, and will now be spending their holiday working. Many of these workers also don’t receive any holiday payment and are often denied the day off.

While I myself am not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving, I do not deny that it holds a place within American culture as a time for family, friends and food. However by willfully taking part in these earlier Black Friday deals, we send a message to the world that we are okay with pulling people away from their families and friends if it means getting to do some early holiday shopping.

The only thing worse than gorging oneself on a holiday that ultimately celebrates the genocide and displacement of an entire people is dragging your gravy-filled gullet to Walmart so you can buy an unnecessarily large plasma screen TV for your ungrateful, fat child, thereby robbing a minimum-wage worker of an evening spent outside the prison of fluorescent lights and cheap khakis.

At least, at the end of the day, it brings back the time-honored Thanksgiving tradition of Manifest Destiny at the expense of other peoples’ well-being.

For this reason, I applaud retailers who are taking a stand and are refusing to open on Black Thursday. Retailers such as Costco, Game Stop, Nordstrom, T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s, Radio Shack and Barnes & Noble, among others, will be closed this Thanksgiving. Many of these retailers also issued statements that said their employees deserve to spend Thanksgiving with their families.

Not surprisingly, both Walmart and Amazon are beginning Black Friday-style deals as early as Nov. 1, so who knows when all of this will end. I wouldn’t be surprised if by 2020 we were having Black Friday deals as early as Labor Day.

This Black Friday, I will be staying home. While I can’t encourage everyone to resist the once-in-a-lifetime deals, I hope that people will have the common decency to stay home on Thanksgiving and not force other people to cater to their shopping lists. I hope that in time, we as a society will not only use our wallets to determine where to shop, but our ethics and moral compasses.

Unless you don’t really care. Then, by all means hit the mall on Thanksgiving day. In fact, I hear the Blu-ray edition of Tommy Boy will be like 60 percent off.