The #BlackXmas scrooges
Dr Christine Louis-Dit-Sully and Courtney Hamilton
Christmas is a time to be merry. Yet while many of us are hanging up our stockings, Black Lives Matter seems to be sorely lacking in the festive spirit.
BLM’s latest campaign, ‘#BlackXmas’, calls for supporters and allies to boycott what they call ‘white capitalism’. This means not spending any money with ‘white corporations’. In fact, BLM is urging people not to spend any money at all this Christmas, using the tweet ‘#CurbYourConsumerism’. Instead of buying stuff, we should consider donating our hard-earned cash to black organisations – which presumably means donating to BLM and friends.
On her weekly radio show, Beautiful Struggle, leading BLM organiser Melina Abdullah argued that ‘it’s important to understand that the economic system and the racial system, and racial structures, are connected’. ‘White capitalism is connected to state-sanctioned violence’, she argued. So, let’s get this straight: free-market capitalism is not a highly complex means of organising production and services. No, according to Abdullah, it’s just an economic system which, when connected to ‘racial systems’ and ‘racial structures’, produces ‘state-sanctioned violence’. Simple. Abdullah’s ‘viable’ solution to this problem is to divest from ‘white corporations’ and revert back to a ‘black mutual-aid’ society.
As economic analyses go, it is rather dumbed-down. Worse, it is anti-consumerism of a racialist variety, dressed up as radical anti-racist thought. It appears the real aim of #BlackXmas is to push forward the interests of a small section of society – the black, entrepreneurial, middle class. BLM present black people as a homogenous community, lending self-elected leaders like Abdullah an air of legitimacy. When they ask for money from ordinary people, they can present it as if they are helping ‘our people’.
In the past, brutal racial oppression by the state cemented black people together. They spontaneously formed tight-knit communities to help each other – black mutual-aid was a necessity. Today, racial problems still exist, but there have been improvements. Social inequalities are still experienced by millions, of course, but it is class divisions that cause these problems. Black mutual-aid will not solve the problems that black or white working-class people face today – like poor education, low wages or unemployment.
When ordinary people are spending what little they have on trying to have a decent Christmas, BLM wants them to give money to the black middle-class. #BlackXmas is a racialist, miserable anti-consumerist idea. It implies that black people consume too much, and donate too little. Thankfully, most of us will want to ignore the scrooges and wish everyone – black and white alike – a merry Christmas.
Courtney Hamilton and Dr Christine Louis-Dit-Sully are writers.