Black Friday sadly is probative of the current socio-economic condition
Black Friday delivered what was expected by many Americans. The countless videos documenting the mayhem have gone viral across the internet much to our collective embarrassment, disappointment and downright judgmental condemnation of it all. We seem to have forgotten why Black Friday began in the first place and what message it sends as a reflection of who we are as a society.
Wind back the clocks to the early 1950’s. The earliest use of “Black Friday” can be found in M.J. Murphy's "Tips to Good Human Relations for Factory Executives” published in 1951. The article warned employers of employee absenteeism. He called it “a disease second to the black plague in its effects” due to the employees asking for sick pay in order to enjoy a four-day weekend after Thanksgiving Day. Needless to say, corporations do as they have always done and found a way to deal with the collective worker absences by including it as the seventh day of their holiday “kitty.”
Fast-forward to 2015 and we find ourselves in the throes of economic inequality. The federal minimum wage was stalled at $5.15 an hour for ten years before Congress voted to increase it to its current federal rate of $7.25 per hour in 2007. We haven’t voted in a Congress since who is willing to raise the minimum wage even though according to the U.S. Department of Labor, raising the minimum wage is great for business and historically, a boost to the economy. Even with the raise in 2007, it still has lost about 8.1% of its purchasing power to inflation.
So, we find ourselves looking at a reflection of “us” when we watch those Black Friday videos. We’re fighting for the crumbs left on the floor. If it’s an even playing field you want to see, dust off your voting card and start showing up to the polls. The proof is in the pudding folks. Our Democracy doesn’t work well without you.