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  • Charmaine Lang

Black Friday: A Special Rite of Passage With My Black Family [The Root]

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

I always look forward to shopping on Black Friday. Although the day after Thanksgiving is often reduced to “capitalist consumption for the un-woke masses,” it has become a favorite family tradition of time spent with two women I love.


To be sure, there’s more than laughs, bargain brawls or door-busting deals associated with Black Friday. In recent years, demonstrations protesting the brutal state-sanctioned violence against black folk, and calling for an end to monetizing holidays have erupted during the busiest day of the year for in-store traffic. For some, Black Friday signals participation in an oppressive capitalist paradigm. And because said system interlocks with racism, sexism, transphobia, anti-immigration and all other forms of oppression, participating in Black Friday shopping can be viewed as supporting unjust systems. For others, it is about savings and discounts on coveted items. But for me, Black Friday shopping is a trip down memory lane and a family ritual.


For years—really pretty much all of my childhood—my mom would leave the house in the cover of night, shortly after I fell asleep. She would be gone for hours, only to descend on the house with shopping bags in the daylight. Weeks later, some of those items would be under the Christmas tree for my two little sisters and me. After taking a mental picture of it, I would gingerly shake the boxes and make sure to return them to their original place. After my mom caught me, she stopped putting names on the gifts until Christmas Eve. But even without name tags, I guessed whose presents were whose, and fooled my impressionable sisters with unfounded pronouncements of what they were getting.


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