Link Between Black Friday and African Slavery

By Zulumathabo Zulu © 2017

Link Between Black Friday and Suffering of African Descendants
(Why you must not buy on Black Friday, Friday 24, 2017 in South Africa)

The Preamble

I am sharing my thoughts about whether there is a link between Black Friday and the suffering of our people. As a matter of scientific fact, there is a link between Black Friday and the enslavement of the African descendants in America and here is how.

The Snopes Article

First of all, the Snopes website which touts itself as “the definitive fact-checking and Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation” published this article How Did ‘Black Friday’ Get Its Name?

This article purportedly debunked any kind of link between Black Friday and the slavery of the ancestors of the African Americans. The purpose of my article is to show the historical genesis of Black Friday and that the current post-Thanksgiving Black Friday may be a derivative of that historical Black Friday especially in the light of public figures like Tony Braxton who have vowed not to do any purchases on Black Friday in honour of the memory of her African ancestors who were brutalized on Black Friday during the slavery era and long before President Abram Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation of January 31, 1863 and the 13th Ammendment of December 6, 1865 which ended slavery in the Union.

The Snopes article basically dismisses in toto the connection between Black Friday and the suffering of the ancestors of African descendants in the Diaspora. The article does not even give a fighting chance to the African American community in this matter.

The writer of the Snopes article is unaware that there exists an epistemic and ontic link between the concept of Black Friday and the suffering of our African people in America. Even if the actual dates may vary but the Snopes article, if it was motivated by intellectual honesty, was supposed to transcend the operational details of specificity and do due diligence by forensic investigation of archival records to make a determination at the strategic knowledge level by asking the question “Could the post-Thanksgiving Black Friday be a derivative of the historical Black Friday in which the African ancestors were brutalized during the slavery period of our historical past?”. If Snopes had done this, it would have arrived at a different conclusion in the interest of fair, accurate and scientific body of knowledge.


Their Suffering Is The Moral Compass

It is my view that only the one who wears the shoe knows the experience of the shoe pinching. The one who is not wearing the shoe can only imagine and speculate about the shoe. We should allow the descendants of those who were brutalized by the slavery society to guide our conscience in terms of the right thing to do. Their experiences and suffering should be like the polar magnets that guide our moral compass. In this way, we can be on the path towards a peaceful and more equitable coexistence to build a society that is peaceful, prosperous and free from poverty, disease, crime and civil conflict.

The Strategic Knowledge of Survival

Before diving into the details of this article, let’s take an erudite page from the objective jungle. A lot of this symbolic modeling comes from my unpublished book The African Rules of the Jungle. In the jungle, the purpose of knowledge is to enhance your survival experience.

It is extremely important that in the agnostic jungle and for survival reasons, the prudent organism does not rely exclusively on the literal domain as the only source of survival knowledge. If the naive organism relied on this kind of epistemic exclusivity, it would incur a survival reducing experience, or worse, it would subject itself to a serious survival disadvantage.

As a matter of a principle that is existential to the survival of the organism, the erudite organism must also derive survival knowledge from other knowledges that are produced by the symbolic and perceptual domains in order to better understand and adapt to the perturbations of the environment that is continously posing an impressive threat to its survival experience. The erudite organism must continously be making selfless, clannish and tactical maneuvers to improve its survivability.

Using the synergistic synthesis of literal, symbolic and perceptual domains, the prudent and highly drilled organism (supported by the ethical clan) is in a better position to be correctly guided by the moral code that enhances its survival experience (and that of the members of the clan) in the turbulant environment of the terrestrial space. It is this kind of strategic knowledge that gives epistemic and holistic access to the ways of knowing about the environment in order to increase the survival advantage failing which the organism is impeded and seriously disadvantaged.

The Historical Origin of Black Friday

The great scholar and legend of African descent Dr. Carter Woodson (Woodson, 1919) refers to Black Friday in his book The Education of the Negro. January 21, 1830 was declared Black Friday at Portsmouth, Ohio were Black families were broken up and traumatized as a result of several hundred armed white men who intimidated, persecuted and demanded that all Black men must leave town, leaving behind their wives and children.

The story is further taken up in a university dissertation Forgotten: Scioto County’s Lost Black History by Rebecca Jenkins for her Master of Arts for the Graduate College of Bowling Green State University wherein she gives more details.

She says (Jenkins, 2015) in her dissertation:

This story not only highlights the struggles that members of the Black community in the area have faced, but also demonstrates the abundance of Black history in Scioto County, and the causes of the erasure of this history.

Jenkins tells us that the Black men on that Black Friday were escorted (by armed and angry White men; local police and others) to the city outskirts and warned never to return. What an icredible inhumanity of man to another man? I became teary as I read these lines! I couldn’t wrap my mind around this kind of wholesale misanthropist behaviour designed to orphan the children from their biological fathers? It is hard enough to become a free man in a slave society. As if this is not hard enough; an army of bellicose white men descend upon Black families to demand that their husbands and fathers leave town and never to return. This is gut-wrenching! This is gross! This is flagrant cruelty of the highest order to the innocent victims! This is hard!

The journalists who reported on this tragic and fateful event referred to this day as Black Friday. This was during the days of slavery and more than 35 years before the abolition of slavery by the American President Abram Lincoln in December 6, 1865.

(Jenkins, 2015) adds:

This erasure of Black citizens from Portsmouth’s history is part of a larger trend of disremembering the distinct historical struggle of Black citizens, both locally and nationally. We must stop this trend going forward, and find new ways to integrate the stories of our pasts.”

This harsh historical experience is corroborated by other scholars like Andrew Feight, Ph.D. in the article “Black Friday”: Enforcing Ohio’s “Black Laws” in Portsmouth, Ohio: The Origins of the African-American Community of Huston Hollow.

There you have it; an uncontested fact that establishes the connection between the enslaved people of African descent in America and Black Friday. In the American history, there has always been a connection between Black people and the Black Friday which begs the question: what kind of history pages is the Snopes website reading from? .

The idea of offering enslaved Africans on discount on Black Friday needs to be investigated in order to vigorously and rigorously establish the empirical facts; this may or may not be the case. The discounting of enslaved Africans is attested for in a number of scholarly papers and archival records but as to these discounts happening on Black Friday needs the rigorous work of scholars and forensic investigators using the scientific methods to uncover what is the case.

Tony Braxton recently told the media that she is not buying on Black Friday in honour of her ancestors who suffered untold cruelty. I am joining her in this regard. Are you going to also support and honour the memory of our ancestors who were forced to leave behind their beloved ones because they were not wanted? It is a cruel fact that a Black man is the main target of the White establishment for destruction so that they can control and manipulate the Black family in the absence of the protector who is also the medicine man.

My Personal Experience and Consideration

To add to this in terms of what should be the moral code going forward, I would like to make two points namely (1) economic sanctions against apartheid South Africa and (2) my Discheme Pharmacy experience.

(1) Sanctions Against Apartheid.

There was a campaign of international sanctions against apartheid led by powerful figures like Archbishop Desmond Tutu who urged the International community to boycott apartheid South Africa in the economy, business, sports and cultural matters. I was a young and greenhorn journalist in the 1980s. I didn’t have much knowledge then but I decided to trust my instincts with regards to the right thing to do and that was to allow my conscience to be guided by what the oppressed people said and that was we don’t buy from white businesses and I did that.

Perhaps my little buying was a meer drop in the occean but that was enough for me to follow suit. That little insignificant sacrifice was enough to turn the tide against apartheid and its eventual collapse. The Basotho say “Molapo otlala ka melatswana” meaning the river garthers strength and becomes powerful as a result of the small and insignificant tributaries.

(2) My Discheme Pharmacy Experience in South Africa.

Last evening (Thursday) I went to buy some food supplement at the pharmacy and just as I entered the door, the security guard stopped me to say it is closed. I pleaded with him and it didn’t help. He said I must come tomorrow which is Black Friday. I said to myself I will come tomorrow to buy because I am not buying for Black Friday sales but what I need. A cosmic insight interceded that isn’t buying on Black Friday (for whatever reason) going against the moral code of Tony Braxton and her people who said not to support the economic system that was built on the misery and suffering of their ancestors on that day? Shouldn’t the voices of the oppressed be the moral compass in this matter? I decided to be guided by that moral compass. Therefore, I am not buying those food supplements on Black Friday and will wait until after Black Friday to buy them.

Concluding Remarks

I would like to say that our people who write articles on these matters must also make a good faith attempt to be rigorous and meticulous in their style so as not to subject us to the ridicule in the hands of those who seek to subjugate us; to rob us of our natural resources and to insult our intelligence. On the other hand, I understand and accept that some of the facts are based on unwritten oral tradition and this is equally valid.


I recommend the following for further reading (Google this):

(1) The Education of the Negro – Book by Dr. Carter Woodson.
(2) Forgotten: Scioto Country’s Lost Black History – Thesis by Rebecca Jenkins.
(3) Life Stories: Profiles of Black New Yorkers During Slavery and Emancipation – Research Paper by Dorothy Creole.
(4) “Black Friday”: Enforcing Ohio’s “Black Laws” in Portsmouth, Ohio: The Origins of the African-American Community of Huston Hollow by Dr. Andrew Feight.

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