For many the celebration of Thanksgiving was always a problem because of the genocide that eventually befell Native Americans. The pillaging of land and resources, rape of women and other atrocities for the most part have been erased from our history books and replaced with the story of a festive feast where humanity was recognized and family and community uplifted..
For decades Thanksgiving was one of the few days poor and working class people had off and so in spite of the hidden history of genocide, Thanksgiving had evolved to become a day and time that we spent with family. In short we collectively brought into the idea behind the holiday and for the most part that was a good thing..
Sadly what we are seeing come to the surface are the true colors of this country.. Thanksgiving is not about family and strengthening community. It’s not about giving thanks.. It’s about making money..We saw this emerge with the concept of Black Friday…
About 10-15 years ago we started hearing about bargain basement sales if you were willing go to the mall the day after Thanksgiving. Up to that time most folks would stay home and hang out. For me I recall there would be an annual flag football game between friends and old classmates. Black Friday sales at the mall got hyped up every year and eventually the Football game was jetted for Black Friday. Eventually people turned Black Friday into a family activity So Thursday you’d eat a big meal and the next day you would link up with loved ones and spend a day at the mall..
It wasn’t long before retailers not satisfied with packed malls which had evolved to serve as defacto family and class reunion hubs started doing these ‘door buster sales,’ which meant folks would no longer take time to show up at the mall, but instead they would have to get up at the crack of dawn to wait on line for a mall to open its doors at 5am…Gone was the family gathering aspect. It was replaced by desperation and greed. Hungry shoppers were no longer leisurely strolling the mall with kids in tow marveling at extravagant Christmas window displays. Many were no longer looking for gifts for friends and relatives, but now standing on line to get something for themselves. Many would be willing to stampeded over women and children and anyone else who got in their way.
The news stories about happy shoppers and the festiveness we saw at malls were replaced by stories people getting killed or seriously getting injured as folks made mad dashes for the limited items placed on sale.. Each year we saw footage or heard tales of full on fist fights and assaults with patrons fighting over the last cabbage patch dolls or that one last video camera or the only widescreen TV. Others would find themselves getting robbed in the parking lots moments after making bargain basement purchases.
It wasn’t long before folks instead of showing up at the mall at the crack of dawn, started showing up earlier and earlier. Some would arrive at 3 or 4am in the morning. The lines got longer and loner to the point that folks simply started camping out in front of stores foregoing Thanksgiving meals… The media working in synch with retailers who would spend large sums of money on TV ads would send multiple camera crews to all the malls to show the long lines and then would position themselves to get the ultimate ‘money shot’ which were hundreds of people stampeding.. The follow-up would be a list of reports about violent incidents and near riots breaking out at various spots around the country..The Thanksgiving feast was becoming an after thought..
Last year or the year before, greedy retailers decided to push the envelope and instead of opening doors at 5am for door buster sales, announced they would open the doors at midnight.. There was some push back but that criticism was quickly dimmed out as media hyped up the sales of TVs, computers and tablets at prices too good to be true.. If you recall last year we were actually told how cheap a 50 inch TV would be and that if we wanted one we better line up at midnight.. They didn’t tell folks that those super cheap items were limited in number..The end result was hundreds of thousands of folks leaving their families and to line up at stores with lines snaking for blocks in some areas..
Here in the Bay Area I went to cover stories att several malls. Each place I went had long lines. The most outrageous was in Emeryville. The line to get into Best Buy had several thousand people and snaked out of the parking lot all the way to the freeway by 9pm… Very few were online to get gift for Uncle Johnny and Aunt Maggie.. It was about getting a TV for themselves.. Others made this a business and would pay people to stand on-line. Others were there to get as much as they could for cheap only to turn around and sell it on Ebay or in Craigslist for a profit.. The family feast was pretty much a wrap. There would be no more after diner card playing or family chats down memory lane.. It was about eating and dashing off to the mall for stores opening at midnight..
This year we are now hearing reports that Black Friday is being phased out..as retailers and malls are opening up on Thanksgiving with the some stores promising of door buster sales at 8pm tonight.. Others are saying they will have door buster sales all day.. What’s lost are days off for low wage workers. many will not be getting overtime or double time pay especially those working at big box stores.. What’s lost is family time. What’s lost is the concept of giving thanks.. This is now being hyped up as Black Thursday…
If you think about it what we are seeing is the completion of a circle.. That first ‘Thanksgiving meal between Native Americans and invading pilgrims was underlined by their greed and the desire to take over.. It wasn’t about the feast, it was about sizing folks and getting them ready to be slaughtered. We are now seeing that today is folks getting primed up to be economically and spiritually slaughtered..We will soon have a generation that will look at the holidays not as a time to spend time with family and loved ones, but a time to go shopping and score a good deal for self..