As I took my seat across from Floyd in the always busy and bustling Frenchy’s Chicken restaurant, I innately sensed that Floyd was ‘chomping at the bit’ in regards to beginning what invariably would denigrate into a verbal battle over a yet to be determined topic. Although at times like this, I would have appreciated good ol’ fashion fellowship and brotherhood building, I had dealt with Floyd B. Foolish long enough to know that any discussion that we engaged in would eventually turn into a debate that he would attempt to win through attrition, not logic. Put simply, Floyd had an uncanny ability of wearing me down with his voluminous illogical views of racial matters that were in many ways like an unrestrained raging bull that held the potential to attack anyone in its vicinity. When Floyd began one of his diatribes, no one, and I do mean no one, was safe.
By the time that I reached our agreed upon location that defiantly stood as a pillar of the community that separated, with the assistance of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church, the Historically Black Texas Southern University from the University of Houston, the current clientele found within the restaurant, nearly one-hundred percent African-American told the entire story regarding which institution supported this business. In many ways, the University of Houston with its hulking structures appeared to be an intruder in this area.
I did not even look to see if Floyd was sitting at one of the picnic tables that serve as the sitting area at this Frenchy’s location, I had more pressing matters at hand. At the top of that list of priorities was a gnawing hunger that I think my stomach and I agreed could only be addressed by ‘the King special’. On the ride to Frenchy’s Chicken, I had steadily worked myself into a devout belief that I ‘deserved’, not needed, the King Special. For $9.99 the King Special included 3 Wings, 2 Pieces of Dark Chicken, and a choice of either Dirty Rice or Fries, of course, I added a drink to wash it all down.
After placing my order with one of the most country sounding, yet overly hospitable, young ladies I had ever met, I waited a few seconds and my much beloved King Special was placed in front of me. As I turned to find a seat, there was Floyd’s bald-headed self vigorously waving his hand in a desperate attempt to get my attention. I believe that Floyd thought that I would use any opportunity to avoid his company, a statement that was neither totally true nor totally false. There was no doubt that we had fallen into a classic ‘love/hate’ relationship.
I approached the picnic table where Floyd sat with several other patrons and received my initial sign that I should be prepared for a particularly contemptuous debate as Floyd began his ghetto soliloquy prior to my settling into my ‘seat’.
A smiling Floyd shared the following. “We all saw you on television”, his words were matched by his spreading his arms to include the entire table of diners, none of which I had ever met.
“And all that I can say is that you and the rest of those Black Power niggas are nuts!!! Do you really believe that Black people who love Jesus more than anything in the world would boycott Christmas?” Floyd took his voice up several octaves to accentuate his point. “Boycott Christmas??? You niggas are crazy as cat shit.”
After hearing Floyd’s initial salvo which was his unique way of revealing the subject matter that we would be discussing today, every fiber of my body wanted to raise up from my ‘seat’ and find another space to enjoy my ‘King Special’ before I engaged Floyd and what appeared to be his gang of like believers. Apparently Floyd knows me much better than I give him credit for as he admonished that I had “better not think about leaving this table because we need to talk about this mess right here.”
It was then that I noticed that a few of the people at the table were in possession of the latest copy of African-American News & Issues that they secured on their way into Frenchy’s. And if they had the latest issue of the paper, that most certainly meant that they had my latest editorial regarding the ‘Boycott Christmas’ issue that I had already learned from several of my Nationalist compatriots, most notably my beloved cousin Kareem Rawls, had taken offense to. I was shocked that Kareem, and many others, were taken aback by even the title, Why the Boycott Christmas Movement is Destined for Failure.
WHY THE BOYCOTT CHRISTMAS MOVEMENT
IS DESTINED FOR FAILURE
We are approaching that magical time of year when Americans spend money that they do not have in an effort to shower their loved one’s with gifts. As with most things, African-Americans have a peculiar relationship with Christmas. Many within our community not only embrace the occasion, but also take every opportunity to joyously remind you that “Jesus is the reason for the season”, while others take an oppositional position that would make Ebenezer Scrooge blush.
Those who have politicized the Christmas season propagate their belief that African-Americans participation in the Holiday works against their best interests as it causes them to support the very people and system that has oppressed them for nearly 400 years.
I think that the calls for African-Americans to abstain from Christmas are at their best foolhardy and unrealistic. Those segments of our community making this call are going to find themselves as frustrated this year as they have been in past years and are destined to be in the future. Dare I say that they are slightly crazy because they fail to understand that “If you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got.” In their case, they have received failure every year as droves of African-Americans spend their money Christmas shopping.
It is time for the Nationalist community that has repeatedly attempted to get African-Americans to stop supporting those who have not only worked to ensure, but also profited from their marginal politico economic status to abandon their current course that reminds one of Nancy Reagan’s infamous ‘Just Say No’ campaign.
A much more productive tactic is to instruct African-Americans what they should say yes to. Considering that the ultimate goal of Black Nationalists economic plan is to circulate the Black dollar within the African-American community, a much more productive tactic is to propose a 1-to-1 ratio, heck even a 10-to-1 ratio would be an improvement in regards to the monies Blacks spend outside and inside of the community. Put simply, maybe we should consider a campaign prodding those who are bound to extend the tradition of spending truckloads of money this coming Christmas to spend a portion of those dollars within the African-American community. A call could be made that requests that for every $10 African-Americans spend with businesses outside of the community that they voluntarily spend $1 with a black business.
Now I am certain that many are aiming for a total boycott of Christmas and there is no doubt that they have valid points, however, at this moment such a staunch stance is going to result in continual failure. Many African-Americans are either unaware of or paying little attention to their demand. The only way of salvaging the spirit behind the Boycott Christmas movement is to approach it via a milder form that encourages those who are spending their monies this holiday season to make a concerted effort to circulate a few of those dollars among their own.
James Thomas Jones III, Ph. D.
© Manhood, Race and Culture
Although I was looking directly at Floyd when I related that I stood by each and every word of my editorial, that statement was intended for any and everyone seated at the table, particularly those who had taken issue with my argument that the ‘Boycott Christmas’ movement was bound to fail because it was too extreme. I believed that we needed a much milder approach that would usher our people toward a routine of patronizing Black businesses during the holiday season; it would be a start that could quickly turn into a tradition.
When I first approached the table, Floyd had intentionally given me the impression that those assembled around the table were associated with him in some way, shape, form or fashion; nothing could have been further from the truth. My assumption, that Floyd strategically led me towards, was horribly wrong as the people assembled around this table were not allies of Floyd, rather regular diners who happened upon one of our weekly debates/arguments. To my delight, these people were total strangers to Floyd and most likely rational in their thought patterns, at least I hoped so. Lord, knows that I could only deal with one ‘Foolish Floyd’ at a time.
The first hint that the eight or so individuals assembled around the picnic table were not supportive of Floyd’s peculiar brand of political illogic, came from a gentleman decked out in what amounted to a handyman’s uniform. This brother whose age I would estimate to be around fifty, eagerly jumped in with a verbal flurry that quickly related his belief that my position was flawed because it did not give the African-American community its due respect.
“Brother let me ask you one important question. Why should we not totally boycott the Christmas season? Not the parts that deal with our family’s gathering together and whatnot, however, it is time that each member of the Black community, our community, do their part to uplift the masses. When you really think about it, we are not asking for much by requesting that they not purchase goods this Christmas season. You can achieve that goal by simply sleeping everyday; it is not the most intensive request. Especially for a people whose ancestors were enslaved and forced to work from can’t see in the morning to can’t see at night.” It did not take me long to realize that this brother’s position, although somewhat critical of my relatively mild plan, was totally critical of Floyd’s non-sense. I giggled internally as it dawned upon me that this brother was on the verge of learning why any discussion with Floyd held the potential for unrestrained violence.
Floyd enthusiastically jumped in with a boisterous assertion aimed at the working man that “Now this is something that I don’t get to say very often, but man you’re crazier than this fool right here. Why should we have to miss out on all of those gifts and showing those that we love how we feel about them? You can rest assured that I have and will be buying plenty of gifts for my lady friends. They love receiving gifts.” With a sly look on his face, Floyd shared that “After they get their gifts, then they give me my gift; if you get my drift.”
At this moment, one of the ladies sitting around the table, whose diction and word choice immediately indicated that she was most definitely an educated sister directed her commentary toward Floyd, “But brother don’t you realize that by purchasing gifts from the very people who will not hire you, or anyone who looks like you, amounts to nothing other than damaging the Black community to the benefit of others who will take those black dollars and build up their own communities. We’ve seen the whites do it, the Asians do it, the East Indians, the Arabs, and only the Lord know who will be the next group to build their community off our backs.” I simply sat back and let the sister have an unencumbered shot at Mr. Popular. “Brother Malcolm once stated that we run our neighborhoods down when we allow others to come into our midst and take our financial resources. And he was absolutely correct!”
Never daunted by any argument, regardless of its soundness, Floyd quickly responded with a rhetorical question that called upon him to overemphasize his southern-drawl. “But aren’t we Americans and therefore free to participate in whatever holiday we desire and also free to spend our hard-earned money on whatever, whenever we want to. You Negroes are the only ones in this nation always talking about boycotting this and that to get your way. No other group, not the whites, Asians, Irish, Russians, Polish, or Germans ever calls for a boycott of another group.”
Feeling as if my head was about to implode from Floyd’s asinine political observation, I hurriedly stated, “Others don’t have to issue boycotts within their communities because through economic solidarity they ensure that every business in their neighborhoods is owned and controlled by their own.”
It was during this moment that I decided to direct a simple question at Floyd. “When was the last time that you saw a black owned Bar-be-cue restaurant in a white community? I’ll answer that for you!!!! You have never seen such a thing. However, it is common to see Chinese, Japanese, and Italian restaurants serve as fixtures within any African-American neighborhood that you visit across this vast nation.”
A beautiful mocha colored young lady joined in the conversation and asked Floyd, “Not only that, but when will the time be correct for our people to start their own businesses and for the community to seriously support their efforts? What is the Black community’s rock-bottom? We are already beggars in regards to the white man and employment.” She continued her attack upon Floyd with the admonishment that “We are darn near parasitic in regards to other races. We live off of the job opportunities that they begrudgingly gift to us. Can’t we get milk from a cow like the white man? Can’t we develop our own technology that the world could benefit from? Or are we truly inferior as others have so often charged?”
Apparently this young lady’s commentary set Floyd off as he flew into a furious rant that contested her final point, “are we inferior to others?!”
Floyd angrily chimed in, “Inferior? Inferior to the white man? Although I would never attempt to speak for anyone else, I am most certainly not inferior to anyone. I choose to do what I want to do and when I want to do it. I am a free man who makes his own choices.”
To my surprise, Floyd’s aggressive tone did not send the young lady into retreat; in fact, she went on a more vociferous attack. “Now you say that you make your own choices, however, you can’t manage to make the best choice for not only you, but also your people. The choice of either supporting a total Blackout of Christmas and supporting those who raid our communities financially or concerted efforts to include African-American businesses during this year’s buying season should be an obvious choice to an independent thinking man as you claim to be. If you cannot bring yourself to make the obvious choice to support Black businesses in the Black community, you are either an imbecile or a traitor to your own kind. The equivalent of an economic suicide bomber within the Black community, however, you shouldn’t worry too much about it because you have a bunch of company.”
I did my absolute best to conceal the absolute glee that I was experiencing at this moment; this discussion had most certainly not turned out the way that Floyd anticipated. He absolutely refused to believe that his backwards thinking was in many ways an anomaly among African-Americans, particularly if they were educated, progressive-minded, and forward thinking. Although Floyd would never agree to this assertion, the truth of the matter is that African-Americans have been, and always will be, inextricably linked together.
After being berated and intellectually destroyed by this young lady, I expected Floyd to remain silent. Unfortunately for everyone assembled around the table, Floyd’s silence lasted all of five seconds. It was at that moment Floyd rose from his seat, grabbed his remaining pieces of chicken, and summarily told the entire table, “Y’all can all, kiss my Black ass.”
The entire assembly of strangers burst into raucous laughter.
Dr. James Thomas Jones III