What does it mean to be a critically, conscious, woke “consumer” in 2016? Ok, so let’s start here, if you consider yourself critically conscious and woke then you really can’t consider yourself a consumer.
A few years back I began celebrating Kwanzaa. As an Afro Caribbean woman steeped in European Christianity, my family gave me a serious side eye about this made up “Black American Holiday.” But among the many reasons why I began to celebrate Kwanzaa, the most salient point for me was because of its movement from consumerism to creationism.
When you celebrate Kwanzaa the goal of gift giving is to ensure the positive, racial Identity development of Diasporic children. Unlike my experience with Christmas, which was just about giving and getting gifts that you’ve always wanted and couldn’t afford, Kwanzaa is about the thoughtful selection and connection to the seven principles we are to celebrate.
You would have to live under a rock to not recognize the social political context of our current world. We have a racist fascist as President Elect, an extremely conservative Republican Congress and executive branch, and the possibility of a judicial branch to follow suit.
So what are we to do, as critically conscious, woke, folk?
We are to put our money–aka our consumerism–where our mouth, values, beliefs and liberation is.
At my blog, creadnyc.org, we talked about the role economic protest plays in our liberation. And we have many calls for protest. The #notonedime boycott, the #injusticeboycott and the #BoycottTrump app. All of these initiatives are about realizing our economic power in order to wield it for our common liberation.
But, don’t fret. I’m not saying you can’t spend a dime this holiday season, or in general. What I am saying is that what you choose to spend your money on and where you choose to spend your money matters. It matters for your family’s access to generational wealth and it matters with regards to this country understanding that Black and Brown bodies, and other marginalized groups, that are being strangled under the boot of White supremacy, consumerism and state violence will no longer be tolerated and accepted.
Here’s what I urge: when you spend your money, you do what My Reflection Matters has been encouraging us to do, which is to consume products that serve and support positive racial identity for all of us, while at the same time supporting many businesses owned by People of Color (POC). And because the internet is most wonderous and full of POC magic, here are just a few links to support your woke consumerism:
- The Root has given us 50 gift ideas from 50 Black owned businesses.
- I Don’t Do Clubs recently shared 25 Holiday gift ideas from Black Owned Businesses for her.
- 1 Blessed Natural offers us 5 black businesses with products for kids.
But, wait! I have another suggestion this holiday season, which I know is closing in quickly. Provide, for the children in your life, experiences that allow them to see the humanity of people who look like them. How can we instill in our children the desire to serve? How can we instill in our children the ability to create versus only consuming? Now, I’m not the most creative person in the world, but every Kwanzaa, I commit to making one gift for my loved ones. If you don’t already, see if this year you can take this tiny shift from consumerism towards creationism. Make food, drinks, snacks with your kids and give them away. Make Kwanzaa bags for homeless people, people in shelters, visit nursing homes and deliver a little Kwanzaa joy. Have your kids put on a show, or simply explain why it’s important to celebrate Kwanzaa. Provide opportunities for the babies to talk about the power of economic boycott and cooperative economics.
We don’t know what lies ahead for our government and ourselves, but we do know the power we hold. This power starts in our pockets and in the minds of our children–and how we engage them in the creation of our wealth and the strategic use of our wealth. Being woke is more than just having knowledge, it’s about using that knowledge to build for our children and our collective liberation.
Khalilah received her Masters of Education in Secondary English & her Masters of Educational Leadership from Long Island University. She is the founder of CREAD: Culturally Responsive Educators of the African Diaspora with the mission of supporting teachers, parents & community members in ensuring the positive racial identity development through education of young people of the diaspora. She is also the co-founder of Decolonizing Education Publishing, Khalilah considers herself a cultural ambassador, producer, & researcher. She works across the country as an anti racist & educational equity coach, curriculum developer, & consultant.