What is ‘Black’ about Black Friday?
By Ama H. Vanniarachchy
“Slavery is a sin when whites were put to the yoke, but not the African.”
– Colson Whitehead,
The Underground Railroad
During the last week of November the commercial world was overwhelmed by Black Friday sales. It is also the Friday following Thanksgiving in the US and this marks the start of the Christmas shopping season in the US as well. Although it seems to have a religious flavour to it now and seems to be all about a happy shopping season, a few posts that went viral last week about the origin of Black Friday said something different about this holiday. According to these posts, the origin of Black Friday is actually black. These posts revealed that it is dark and bitter and actually inhumane.
However, doing some research about the origin of Black Friday, it was actually very difficult to find out the true details of the history of Black Friday because the information seems to be deliberately shunned. Most of the information is all about the notoriously ruthless financiers, Jay Gould and Jim Fisk, and their attempt to buy all the gold in the market. If the viral information we saw last week is true, the term ‘Black Friday’ should be not in use in honour for the torture many lives went through in the past.
Some believe that the term ‘Black Friday’ originated with the practice of selling off slaves on the day after Thanksgiving. Isn't this extremely racist and inhumane? Wait; there is more to come; more information about the brutality behind Black Friday.
Black Friday’s history is related to the tortured history of African slaves who were sold, bought, humiliated, and ill treated by the white colonials. Nevertheless, it was extremely difficult to find information about the history of Black Friday and there was also news claiming that Black Friday had nothing to do with selling and torturing slaves. However, at the same time, those who decline Black Friday’s connection with slaves in America are unable to give an explanation to the term ‘Black’ used in Black Friday.
So after doing some research we came to know that the Black Friday sale was actually the day of selling slaves. These slaves were prized depending on their age, gender and physical characteristics. Children as young as two-and-half years were sold and slaves.
Hit the N**r Baby
In the early 1890s, one of the most popular games at local fairs was ‘Hit the N**r Baby’. These fairs would set up a black baby or toddler and white people would pay money for baseballs to throw at the black baby as hard as they could. The favourite highlight of playing this game was when the black mother was forced to breastfeed her baby and fill up the baby so that when the person throwing the baseball hit the baby’s stomach they would cheer and the person would get a prize.
There had been another brutal game called African Dodger which was similar to Hit the N**r Baby. This was also a carnival game in which an African man would stick his head out through a canvas curtain and try to dodge the objects that had been thrown at him. These objects could be baseballs or eggs. The baseballs and eggs could cause severe damage to the man. The players, white people, would cheer and laugh and enjoy themselves by throwing these objects at the man’s head. It is reported that this was played as early as the 1880s and until the 1950s.
Some reports say that this game was even played at homes using kit-based versions. Later, this game fell out of fashion and a new game, dunk tanks, replaced this. In this game, an African man would sit on the dunk tank and he would fall into the tank of water when he was hit with a ball.
It is reported that there had been many racist games that would target slaves and those who were of African origin. These games were popular at local fairs in America during the late 1880s and were played till the mid-1900s.
History can be twisted, but cannot be hidden. The truth will always be revealed and we cannot erase the dark black patch of the white colonials where they tortured and humiliated other human races in Africa, America and in Asia.
“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”