Rejecting blatant racism does not make you an “ally” to black people seeking power to determine their own fate in America. The true test of an ally is whether they believe our quest for self-determination is legitimate and truly support it. WalMart does not pass the test. A recent article on Breitbart complained that WalMart no longer sold items displaying the Confederate Flag, yet featured shirts with messaging supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement on the company’s website. WalMart caved and in doing so, legitimized a twisted logic that views the struggle for black self determination and freedom as equally offensive as the southern rebels’ treasonous devotion to slavery. This system of thought delegitimizes the pursuit of black power and WalMart catered to it. In the era of Walter Scott and Michael Brown, black people must carefully consider whether we can allow these small seeds of hostility to harvest into blood.
Breitbart’s crusade was strengthened by the national Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). The organization–which represents police departments across the country– took offense to a particular shirt WalMart featured on its website (available via a third-party merchant). The shirt featured the words, “Bulletproof. Black Lives Matter.” While the FOP made clear that they do not object to the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” the “bulletproof” part wounded their fragile psyche. For the FOP, “bulletproof,” being resistant to violence aimed at your person, somehow represents and potentially fosters violence against police. Putting aside the nonsensical nature of the FOP’s argument, the organization overlooks the number of total cops shot this year across the country–a five year high of 64–was well short of the number of black men alone shot by police in 2015. Still, to push back against police violence is illegitimate to the FOP and WalMart allowed its platform to be used to spread that toxic message. The FOP (and by extension the police departments it represents) is clearly no ally to black people and WalMart chose to side with it.
To say that one is not an ally does not necessarily mean they are an enemy. It does suggest, however, that they might easily be mobilized as an enemy at some point. WalMart chose to legitimize the FOP’s illogical and damaging position because it was expedient in the moment. Having done so, why would we trust the company to not use its economic strength against black people, if doing so were convenient in the future? Can we afford to gamble on that assumption? The very notion that resisting police violence is tantamount to slavery and treason is alarming and for WalMart to entertain the argument speaks volumes about their convictions–or lack thereof. If 2016 has shown us anything, it is that we can no longer afford to strengthen any entity that is not an ally to us as black people. With this in mind, 2017 is to be a year strictly for action. No talk, all action. We must divest from institutions that are hostile to us. We must reject others that delegitimize our pursuit for self-determination.
Beginning in January, HopewellThought is launching a campaign designed to shift our collective thinking and buying habits. We will feature monthly posts to help us make these changes, one small step at a time. You will learn a new, simplified methodology of shopping that will steer our dollars away from non-allies, in a way that is easy and actually sustainable longterm. This is a time for action, not talk. We will not argue with anyone hostile to the idea of black self-determination, even when they have black faces. HopewellThought is partnering with various organizations and individuals to help spread our monthly campaign through social media. We will introduce a new method for shopping and together, we will change our habits. No more talk, 2017 is about action and allies.