Shopping While Black: Boycotts Pop Up Ahead Of Holiday Shopping Season

John Gress

As the holiday shopping season gets underway this weekend, several calls for boycotts have been called for against retailers accused of various racially discriminatory practices.

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In one of the latest instances, eight men employed at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the luxury retailer and its parent company Hudson’s Bay. The men, all of them at least 50 years old, accused Saks of denying them promotions because of their race and age.

Speaking at a Tuesday press conference, their lawyer Derek Sells called for a boycott on Black Friday against Hudson’s Bay, a company that “has never had a Black or Hispanic in leadership” in its 348 years of existence, the New York Daily News reported.

In addition to Saks, the parent company also owns Lord & Taylor.

Meanwhile, an African-American man in Washington state called for a boycott against a frozen yogurt franchise on Tuesday, radio station KUOW reported.

Two white employees at a Menchie’s located in Kirkland felt uncomfortable with 31-year-old Byron Ragland in the store on Nov. 7 and asked the owner to call the police to remove him.

Ragland said a detective called his father about the police encounter that could have turned deadly.

“I haven’t slept through the night since this incident happened, and I know my parents haven’t either,” said the Air Force veteran who was supervising a court-appointed parental visit when he was thrown out the store.

Menchie’s posted an apology and closed Tuesday to provide its employees with racial bias training.

On Nov. 12, Illinois’ Democratic Rep. Bobby Rush urged his constituents in Chicago to join a Black Friday protest against Target over its decision to close two stores in the South Side, a predominately black neighborhood, according to WTTW-TV.

“Target wants the Christmas money from the community it’s turning its back on,” Rush said at the rally outside a Target store in the South Loop, adding that “We are demanding that Target stay open.”

Ragland summed up the aim of boycotts at a press conference surrounded by his attorney and civil rights leaders.

“That’s how you punish white supremacy and anti-Black behavior. You hit hard and you hit fast right in its pockets,” he said.

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