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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Black Friday, or Green?

On Thanksgiving, two days ago, I talked to a man who works for a large toy retailer. He compiles their databases, in which they want copious information entered, relating to every little detail of their selling. He and his co-workers had been especially busy because the company was eagerly looking forward to "Black Friday."

That interested me because just a day or two earlier, I had run across that term for the first time, and I was surprised to see that "Black Friday" referred to the day after Thanksgiving, when it has become the tradition for consumers whose stomachs had become unbloated enough to allow them to flood the stores looking for sales, and it had become, I suppose, the official first day of the Christmas buying season.

It was easy to figure that at some time recently when I wasn't looking (that happens a LOT these days), that day had come to be called "Black Friday," because it would allow the accounts of the stores to go into the black, as opposed to being in the red. All the same I wondered if this was yet another example of people being either uncaring or unaware of usage and history, because isn't "Black Monday" embedded in all our consciousnesses in a very strong and negative way? It has been used for nearly 80 years to denote that tragic day in 1929 when the N.Y. stock market crashed and the Great Depression began.

I asked this fellow about these points and he said he was a little surprised, too, because "black" usually refers to something unfavorable and bad.

I smiled when he said that, because I wondered if he would suddenly catch himself, thinking that I could've been offended, because of my recent (give or take two or three centuries) African ancestry. But his race consciousness may not move in such directions, because his parents are Chinese who lived in the Philippines, and instead he just kept talking about the thinking at his company.

He said that there they called it "Green Friday" instead, obviously because that's the color of dollars, though then I wondered to myself whether Robert Redford and his people over at the Sundance Channel might feel a little uncomfortable, because they have almost appropriated "green" all to themselves, with their vigorous and unflagging promotions of environmental awareness.

It occurred to me that saying "Black Friday" might have also arisen as an attempt to start taking the stigma out of the adjective "black" and instead using it to denote something positive and good for a change. But I know that right now, considering the way that the last four decades have completely betrayed the spirit of the 1960's, such virtuous intent is in general far too much to hope for.


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