Our first response to the supreme court was to organize. Now let’s talk about strategizing. We will make planned choices on where and how we spend our money, time, and all resources. Let’s face it, change only happens in the United States when there is a financial incentive to do so. Let’s look at the historical precedence for that if you don’t believe me.
The Boston Tea Party – In 1773, possibly the first boycott on American soil occurred when a group of colonists dumped British tea into a Massachusetts harbor. Instead of collecting payment for the tea, and planning future shipments, the British East India Company was left with destroyed product and no reimbursement. Colonists drank Dutch tea instead and the British East India Company almost went bankrupt.
Colonists were successful because they transferred financial power from their enemy to an ally via a tea boycott.
The Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott is perhaps the most famous boycott in the United States. Black people in the South wanted equity and equality in their lives but that was impossible thanks to numerous Jim Crow laws and unjust laws upheld by the (see their pattern) Supreme Court.
Black people boycotted the bus system because they were forced to sit in the back of buses or made to stand if a European American desired their seat or asked for it. Black people could be ejected from buses or arrested if they refused. Although everyone paid the same fare, they didn’t have the same experience on public transportation. People chose to walk or share rides while empty buses patrolled the streets and neighborhoods.
It took a year and another Supreme Court decision (they finally got it right) before the law changed and the boycott ended. The Montgomery bus boycott was successful because people transferred financial power from segregationists to themselves, friends, and family.
Sun City boycott – “I ain’t gonna play Sun City” was the rallying cry of the 1980’s. Sun City was a South African paradise that welcomed entertainers, sports figures, and the famous as long as you were of European descent. South Africa, not so disimilar from the United State of America, had their own segregationist system in place called apartheid. Apartheid was the total and complete political, social, and economic oppression of the majority party of non-Europeans in South Africa by the minority party of Europeans.
Apartheid was brutal, deadly, vicious, and the police murdered people of color without fear of retribution or judgement. South Africa was on the other side of the world and few Americans knew what was happening there. But with the birth of cable, international news could be seen around the world and the world saw what was happening in South Africa. And most of the world took action.
The International Olympic Committee had banned South Africa from competing and there were some economic and culture embargoes but they were not large enough to affect change. It took a group of musicians lead by Steven Van Zandt to inform the world of South Africa’s apartheid using the technology of that time: BET, CNN, and MTV. Van Zandt crafted the anti-apartheid soundtrack and Sun City began to fall into ruin while the now-informed world joined the protests and boycotts.
The Sun City and apartheid boycotts were sucessful because people were educated, informed, and removed the financial power from the South African government through sanctions and boycotts.
So, how do we know who to support and who to boycott on a local and national level? Three great tools to begin are Goods Unite Us, Progressive Shopper, and Ethical Consumer. Use them to start making supportive financial decisions. I know it won’t be easy and it may be inconvenient. And everyone may not be able to participate on the same level thanks to the decimation of small business by big box online and local stores. Some of you may work for these companies and can’t quit your jobs. But we can do this IF we all do this. Together.
Check your shopping lists thrice and if you choose to stop purchasing items or from specific companies, let them know! Write a letter to them stating why you will no longer finance their bad deeds, then share that information with your friends and family. YOU are the catalyst for change.
Some people have sworn off visiting Southern states plus Texas and I want to challenge that decision. Most Southern states are gerrymandered to the point that they will always remain conservative BUT there are businesses, people, and nonprofits that would benefit from your tourism dollars. You can spend consciously in those states, still enjoy yourself, and those local dollars are sewn back into the community to continue to fight the good local fight.
Have you used any of these tools to affect change? Do you have suggestions, websites, anything? Do we need a different talk about strategizing? I’m listening, I’m open, and I’m committed.