ABOVE PHOTO: Michael Brown (AP photo)
[Ed. Note: For MLK Day 2017 the SUN is republishing a portion of this FreedomQuest in the memory of SUN Publisher and Founder J. Whyatt Mondesire, providing his unique and provocative opinions on subjects from politics to entertainment]
By J. Whyatt Mondesire
Think of the decision by a St. Louis County Grand Jury not to indict former Ferguson, Missouri Police Officer Darren Wilson as a 21st century Emmett Till moment. For Millennials too busy Facebooking, Tweeting and taking “selfies” to appreciate what we old-heads call the Civil Rights Movement, the death of Michael Brown and the lack of criminal charges against the white police officer that gunned him down has not only jolted them awake, but has also incited the restlessness of an entire generation.
Thankfully, these Millennials have displayed a sustained outrage that few of us would have predicted when Brown was shot and left to die in Ferguson, just outside St. Louis, three months ago. Young protestors from all ethnic and socio/economic groups have either shown up in Ferguson or participated in demonstrations in their hometowns.
While Brown’s and Till’s murders don’t match completely, no one can deny that these homicides have sparked spontaneous movements in which thousands of Americans fed up with the status quo, demanded fundamental policy and legal changes to better protect black lives. Till’s brutal murder by Ku Klux Klansmen in Mississippi was among the things cited by Rosa Parks as part of her decision making process when she refused to be “Jim Crowed” on a segregated bus in Montgomery, igniting the historic Montgomery Bus Boycott.
“According to the latest Washington Post– ABC poll, 58 percent of whites were in favor of the decision not to indict Wilson for Brown’s murder as opposed to only 9 percent of blacks.
The political divide is nearly as great, with Republicans approving of the grand jury’s decision by a 76 percent to 18 percent margin, and Democrats disapproving by a 68 percent to 27 percent margin.
The search for a plan of action that will prompt police departments to adopt stronger protocols for the use of deadly force led some to call for a nationwide Black Friday shopping boycott organized on Black Twitter with the hashtags #NotOneDime and #BlackOutFriday. Dozens of students complied by staging “die-ins” at several St. Louis shopping malls two days after the no indictment decision was released by the Ferguson grand jury.
That was a good start, but for it to have the desired impact it will have to be sustained. Furthermore, since this movement is triggered by the younger generation it seems perfectly logical to ask them to focus on boycotting a product where their buying choices would have maximum weight.
That boycott should start at their feet.
Athletic footwear. Sneakers. Nikes, Adidas, Pumas, New Balance…take your pick. If we could convince just 10 percent of the teen and pre-teen market to withdraw support from one or more of these companies, body cameras would be subsidized for every major police department in the country. And if we could keep the boycott going as long as they did in Montgomery and it resulted in one or more of these companies opening a factory in the central core of several of our most distressed cities, then we’d finally begin to see a decrease in unemployment rates in black and brown communities. But actual change in a capitalist system always means somebody has to pay. Sometimes in money. Some times in blood.
Oftentimes in both.