If I was a stranger in America over the past 4 weeks, I would have thought that this country really loves black people given the barrage of the Black Friday advertisements on television. My conclusion would have been, “Wow this nation has an unflinching affinity for black people and black anything for that matter. They elected the first black President, secured him a second term in office, and have even named an ordinary day of the week Black Friday to celebrate their love for black people.”
Unfortunately, given my experience in the U.S. spanning almost 11 years, I understand that the reverse is actually true for black people. As a matter of fact, the only positive connotation attached to blackness is Black Friday. The word black is like a chameleon in America, in that it changes and conjures different mental depictions depending on its usage.
When black is used as racial category to describe a race of people, it evokes negative connotations such as dangerous, aggressive, lazy, violent, uneducated, and unkempt. These images are conveyed nearly every time you turn on the television in that the limited black characters that are portrayed usually reflect the stereotype. However, the thingification of blackness has been positively promoted in the same U.S. media over the past for 4 weeks, showering encomiums on Black Friday. What an irony!
According to a recent study, “A rose by any other name?: The consequences of subtyping “African-Americans” from “Blacks,” racial labels evoke different images in the minds of white people. The study shockingly revealed that the racial label of a person color determines how he/she is perceived by white Americans. In particular, whites seem to be more receptive to the term African American than black. From the study: “The stereotype content for blacks was significantly more negative than for African-Americans,” the researchers write. “In contrast, the stereotype content for African-Americans did not significantly differ in perceived negativity from that of whites.”
One would then wonder why Black Friday, an object, a common day of the week, would be viewed in more positive light than black people in America? The answer is simple: Black Friday is a capitalist holiday promoted by apostles of almighty capitalism to engage consumers, because consumers respond better to capitalism than God. While capitalism has reduced the humanity of blacks in this country, the truth is that the majority of people who have a negative mental representation for black people, while deeply in love with the capitalist ideology of Black Friday, have too lost their human dignity to consumerism.
In the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.”