Standing for Something

On Tuesday, September 4, 2018, when everyone else engaged in a social media conversation about Nike, Colin Kaepernick, and the burning of shoes, my husband and I were in Gainesville having a late lunch with our daughter, Kesi and her friend.

Afterwards, we also took her shopping. That’s when a conversation with her friend ensued.

“Do you want to go to Walmart?” friend asked.

Kesi laughed because she already knew the answer.

“I don’t wanna go to Walmart.”

“Well, then you must not wanna save money,” friend replied in a persnickety kind of way.

“It’s bigger than saving money,” I said.

“She won’t go to Chick-fil-A either,” Kesi added.

Friend was completely confused by this point. “What?” “Chick-fil-A has the best chick,” she said. “First, tell me why you won’t go to Walmart.”

I told her it was too long of an explanation because it really is. Twelve years ago, I read a book called The Wal-Mart Effect, watched two documentaries, and held a lengthy conversation with a respected friend, who called the company fascist. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been inside a Walmart since then, and it’s mostly to accompany others.

Still, I began with my reason. Walmart mistreats their employees by not hiring them as full-time workers, so they don’t have to pay insurance. For example, they might ask an employee to work 35 hours, just shy of a 40-hour work week. Dwight added that they use prison labor to make their products. Kesi chimed in and explained that the reason most stores operate the way they do now (e.g., importing cheap China goods) began with Walmart at the helm.

“Well, maybe when I get older I’ll shop somewhere else, but for now…”

I told her I understood. Many people who are older than her still can’t afford to shop somewhere else because they don’t make enough money, they’re retired, or on a fixed income. It’s just something I do because I can.

That answer was sufficient. Now she had to know why I avoided Chick-fil-A.

“You know those people who believe you can pray the gay away?” I asked.

“Mmmhmmm,” friend, who self-identifies as a lesbian answered.

“I stopped going because the owner uses part of the business’s funds to support those type of organizations. And I don’t think that’s right.”

I was driving so I couldn’t look back, but friend, who up til now had an answer for everything was silent for a second. And then, “Whaaaat? Oh, I’m definitely not going there anymore.”

Then, a few seconds later, “But that food is really good, though.”

We all laughed. But that’s it right? It’s hard to boycott something you like. And those of us who want to be moral people are faced with these decisions more and more because companies are sharing their personal values. Sometimes those ethics aren’t aligned with who we think we are. Or in the case of friend and Chick-fil-A, they are completely counter to your lifestyle.

What do you do? Do you fall back into willful ignorance, knowing the truth, while pretending you’re not part of the problem? Or, do you take your salary elsewhere, hoping that company doesn’t support something you’re against?

img_7740In the early 2000s, giving up $.97 items and waffle fries was an easy choice. I haven’t missed either. But what happens when you like the company but they inadvertently become a spokesperson for something you’re against? A couple days after the Kaepernick situation, another shoe story from 2016 re-surfaced. Two years ago, New Balance opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement Trump also opposed. Consequently, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists deemed New Balance their official shoe. Yikes! New Balance quickly made a statement that reaffirmed their stance against “bigotry” and “hate,” but I certainly don’t want to be associated with the official Klan shoe! I love my New Balance and it took a while for me to find an affordable, cute workout sneaker with arch support. Furthermore, their shoes are made in the States, a rarity nowadays. For the first time, my decision is cloudy. But I’m leaning towards willful ignorance on this one.

So, tell me. Have you ever boycotted a business? If so, why? If not, why? In the long run, do you think it matters?

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78 thoughts on “Standing for Something

  1. Walmart is not allowed in New York City because they are non Union. I think I can count the number of times on one hand that I’ve been to Walmart but outside the city limits. One of the great things about living in Brooklyn and New York City in general is the availability of discount stores or dollar stores. What were called five and dime stores forty or fifty years ago. I buy at my local neighborhood stores which are for the most part owned by People who Live in the community. Also I’m a big Buy Black supporter. Every other race and ethnic group buys from their own and so should Black people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think NYC is great and it sounds like you all stand up for yourselves a lot more than the rest of the US. I say this because when I was in New York in April, I had a convo with my Uber driver about how they tore down (some of) the projects in Chicago, which pushed gangs to the Southside, which is part of the reason why the crime rate is so high. He was in disbelief. He said that would never happen in New York because the people wouldn’t stand for it. I say all of that to say, good for you guys! I mean I wish we would all stand firm.

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      1. Yes. One of the many reasons why I Love New York! Even with the subway system problems New York tends to be a more progressive state when it comes to the folks who Live here. Plus New York city is a strong Union town which serves as a deterrent to nonsense. Not only do we have Paid Family Leave but starting in December the mandatory minimum wage will be $15. Not perfect but establishing a standard for the rest of the country to follow.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. If a store doesn’t align with what I believe I won’t go there but sometimes I’m unaware if they do. It’s very difficult to manage if it’s unknown or if you like something but is it stronger than your beliefs? There lies the heaviness of what to do

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is hard to know how each and every company aligns or doesn’t. I mean nowadays they have lists online for some movements, but for the most part, it isn’t until something like this blows up, then you find out. I’m starting to believe that liking something is stronger than many of our beliefs.

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  3. I am so uninformed! I had no idea Wal-Mart was doing this. Thank you for enlightening me. Damn. I knew about Chic Fil-A and their chicken ain’t got nothing on Popeyes just saying. LOL I will now take my stand and boycott Wal-Mart. ✌

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I stopped shopping at Walmart 4 years ago and I don’t use or buy any of the services or products listed below.
    AT&T
    Bayer (aspirin)
    Coca-Cola
    Diageo (Crown Royal and other liquor)
    ExxonMobil
    Quickbooks
    Johnson & Johnson (lotion)
    Kraft Food
    UPS
    Victoria Secret
    All of these companies support ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) who was behind Florida’s “stand your ground” law that helped acquit assailant George Zimmerman after shooting and killing Trayvon Martin in 2012. Another reason is because companies like Victoria Secret use cheap prison labor to make their products. I don’t each out much, so I never ate at Chick fil A.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Yes, I’ve had a boycott go on for a long time now. Too long to explain but in short I experienced their small town small minds and the way I was treated there was nothing short of blatant racism which I tried to hold them accountable for, popping in every now and then to catch the store owner. Eventually, when I discussed the matter with him after our initial contact where he’d promised to follow up with his stire manager about the incident in which he agreed the store manager was in the wrong, he brushed me off with ‘you need to get over it’. As inconvenient as it is for me, I no longer shop there but it feels sooo good not to, and I now have lovely relationships with the smaller stores in the area and weekend market holders, supporting true locals and purchasing less plastic packaged goods. This is long but the full story would have taken way longer. P.S I think Colin K is doing a good thing but sullied by Nike’s shitty manufacturing practices. I never wear Nike for that reason.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, and makes me do happy that thst same supermarket is now being boycotted by a lot of others because they refuse to ban plastic carry bags when a lot of other stores in the town have adopted a no plastic bag policy. Funny and not funny thst the privelaged class will act on environmental issues before acting on social justice. No one joined my boycott back in the day…I guess we all have our own limits and easy to ignore an issue if it doesn’t directly affect you…like the walmart/chickadee reaction of Kesi’s friend…Chickadee *almost* made her stand up for her values.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, it’s a privelage, but when I said ‘the privelaged class’ that was my diplomatic attempt to svoid generalising and say ‘white people’ often act on environmental issues ahead (or white feminist issues) ahead of social justice that impacts minorities. It is a generalisation. Not to say those same people don’t care, but there us a difference between caring and taking the steps to boycott.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Good for you Mek! I was debating reminding everyone of Nike’s practices and also mentioning that buying Nike is actually just supporting Nike, not really advocating for social justice, but I decided against it.

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  6. I think this comes down to, again, that quote of Maya ‘know better, do better’. But in all fairness, if you can afford it. You and I can, but as you pointed out, not everyone can.
    Those who can, definitely should, I feel.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. A store that is primarily white, meaning they don’t hire anyone diverse. Here in the States it’s quite common to have stores like that. So, this also means (sometimes) there are no disabled people, no LGBTQ people, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks, Katherin. Got it. Now I also comprehend better why this is still such a huge issue in the states. On some level, I did and do realize, there still are ignorant people (to keep it civil). But somehow, I just don’t get it, since we live in 2018.
        Over here, well, in The Netherlands that is, people won’t be invited for a job interview based on their last name; when a person could be Muslim. (fortunately the government recognizes this and is working on a law, which forbids such practices.)Here in Germany, in a big multi-national, lots of diversity cultural-wise. Disabled people however, very minimal.
        The last couple of weeks, there have been several incidents in the east of Germany, where refugees have been literally hunted down, because of their nationality. Counter demonstrations with signs as ‘we don’t want Nazi’s here).
        And it is very minim to these kinds of problems, but I’ve been told that my personal gift the ‘Beautiful Soul badge’ could offend some cultures, because of the shape of the heart.
        Lately, I feel we no longer live in 2018, but are thrown back a couple of decades.
        What the … happened with ‘us’ humans?!

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Sigh! It’s so easy to say sometimes. I remember boycotting Tommy Hilfiger in the past, but there were so many other clothing companies at the time. There is one company that I LOVE more than ever, but I disagree with some of the moves the company leadership has made over the past year or so. I’m tempted to never go again, but I’m unsure whether I’ll follow-through.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is so loaded because large corporations are so pervasive and at the front of the line making it convenient for consumers to spend money without conscience. It sucks when you realize that you and some of your favorite products and stores are not a moral/ethical match! I didn’t know about New Balance, so thanks for sharing that. I have and do boycott businesses at times; but it is easier to try to support businesses whose moral values are similar to mine than it is to NOT spend money with the others. I do believe in trying to do better once I know better, though.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I don’t go to Wal-Mart unless I’m accompanying others or, in the case when I went to my aunt’s funeral, it’s basically the only choice for miles and miles. I fell down on Chick-Fil-A when dealing with my food issues because they’re the closest to campus and fast and sometimes French fries were all I could tolerate. I was about to go there Thursday but a coworker was with me and forced me to make a better choice, which I appreciated, especially since I had the time. (I have a friend who says she’ll go to CFA, but only if she also makes a donation to an LGBTQ charity for more than what she spends at CFA.)

    Amazon is hard for me because I use Prime and my daughter’s on my account. But I think after it lapses this year, I’ll tell her to get a student account if she still wants it next year.

    Like with Wal-Mart in my aunt’s tiny town and Amazon for my daughter the college student, sometimes protests are a matter of privilege, but if we’re able to, I think we should. A friend of mine was a community organizer and she said boycotts work. And as someone pointed out here, sometimes it takes a while for them to gain traction to have an effect, but it’s all the stonecutter’s story thing, right?

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    1. So, first I had to look up stonecutter’s story. I’m not sure it is, unless I’m not understanding the reference. I do, however, believe that in the 21st century boycotting has become a luxury and privilege. Because of the 1%, many of us are forced to shop where the owners don’t care about society’s needs and the alternative is too expensive.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I just meant that things seem to happen all at once when there have been little chips been made in the surface the whole time. That’s probably still a terrible explanation, but that’s all I got today, ha.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Firstly, sidenote: Chick-fil-a is wack! If it weren’t for the sauces, it’d be superrrr basic. All the flavor is in the sauce! And I am with you about Wal-Mart, too; I think I watched the same documentaries in college and was completely turned off. I’ve never owned any NewBalance sneakers, but it being the official klan shoe is news to me!

    I do stop spending money with any company that I feel is discriminatory or I don’t feel welcomed or appreciated or they just do weird, unnecessary rich white guy stuff (owner of Jimmy John’s). If I feel disrespected or personally attacked, I may try a different location or request to be assisted by someone else, but if it’s a smaller company, I just never go back. I also try not to spend where no employees look like me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I should change that to “unofficial” because NB did denounce it lol

      Do you mean Papa John’s? Because if I have to boycott Jimmy John’s…

      I understand the not shopping where employees look like me. I tried to explain this to someone before. If your advertising and employees don’t look like me, then I’m not sure this is the right store for me.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Papa John’s is wack too! Even before the nonsense. But yes, I meant Jimmy John’s. The owner kills large game for sport. I would just feel like I’m supporting his perverse hobby if I patronize.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I really love how you stand by your principles. I admit I shop at Walmart and realize how bad they treat the worker; I feel guilty. I work retail and I know what its like to pretty treaty poorly; paid little; work weekends and holidays. Even the labor day I had to work; the irony of it all. It’s sad what workers have to put with but I am glad you realize that and take a stand. Thank you so much; not everyone understands like you do. And I might go to Harris Teeter instead of Walmart for my groceries

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I don’t particularly care what political or religious views business owners hold unless they are blatant about it or discriminate against particular groups of customers… immigrants, blacks, gays, etc—That, I won’t tolerate. I’m a veteran, so I can get anything from food to furniture and appliances at the base commissary and BX, stores whose profits go toward morale, welfare, and recreation programs for active and retired military and vets. I buy organic food to the extent I can afford it, much of it the seasonal bounty of our local farm market. I buy good quality shoes from a family-owned shop in a neighboring town. (They do shoe repairs, too.) Well-constructed European brands like Birkenstock and Dansk agree with my wide, flat feet. I pick up the odd item at Dollar General because it’s close and small (I despise superstores), and employs people from my community. Amazon.com is probably my biggest shopping vice. I patronize Mom-n-Pop restaurants rather than chains; they are cozy and personal and the quality of their food is superior. I don’t know if my choices make any difference in the grand scheme of things, but I feel better knowing that I’m supporting Mom & Pop and local farmers and merchants, contributing to military and veteran welfare, eating stuff that won’t kill me, and investing in high-quality products that will last many years instead of disposable ones that will soon become garbage in our landfills. I’m not rich, by the way. Hubby and I make far less than the median income in our area. We live in a tiny home and drive older cars. Whatever your income, there are ways to spend in a way that mirrors your values. You “vote” every time you buy something. If you want locally grown organic vegetables, vote for them. If you want to keep your hometown coffee house, vote for it. If bigotry makes you sick, vote against it–shop someplace else. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Joan. I didn’t know you were a veteran!!!
      Thanks for sharing all of these ways that we can use our dollars to create and maintain a better sense of community. Not shopping locally is also a part of the larger problem (I think).

      Liked by 1 person

  13. So much Light and love, Kathy. I acknowledge you for doing what’s in integrity for you. That’s really important. I say a peace prayer every day and sometimes I’ll put people and situations that feel hard for me into the Light of the prayer. I love you.
    Blessings,
    Debbie

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Currently boycotting:
    1) Starbucks (calling police on Black customers last year). Miss the on-the-go gluten-free menu options.
    2) Hobby Lobby (anti-gay, anti-birth control). Miss the large variety of crafting items.
    3) Wal-Mart (crappy way they treat employees and cheap quality) – Miss getting Meyers cleaning products for $1 less than most other stores.
    4) Businesses in WA state who support Trump (including a tea shop close to work I used to patronize frequently until a co-worker became FB friends with the owner and saw the pro-Trump posts). Miss the convenience of getting my favorite beverage so easily.
    5) Target (because I actually witnessed a white female clerk unnecessarily calling store security on a black male customer who was just asking for a refund!)
    6) The Girl Scouts (I know, I know, but they were part of the inaugural celebration when they could have opted out of this very sexist president’s celebration.) Don’t eat sugar, but I miss buying half-a-dozen boxes of cookies from these young ladies and taking them to the office.

    Considering dropping Amazon Prime (after frequent emails to them about advertising on Breitbart). This one’s hard becuz Prime is so convenient and saves SO much time. Also, I am Kindle addicted. (sigh). Amazon seems to be doing it less, though, or maybe that’s just my thinking since I can’t tolerate that Breitbart site too often to check!

    This principle works in reverse too. Currently adding Nike stock to my portfolio since they gave Kapernick the love he deserves.

    I believe these relatively silent protests matter, at least to me. I have lost out of some deals because of it and I have to bring my own tea to work, but I can’t knowingly patronize bad behavior, racism, homophobia, xenophobia or social injustice. Can’t. Money matters to businesses. Even my few little bucks. Of course, there are many other companies doing ratty things I don’t know about yet, but I do what I can when I know.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Nailah, you have a whole list, huh? So, do you boycott all Targets, or just the one where the situation occurred? Girl, I didn’t even watch the inaugural celebration because I was still in shock. But that’s a good point and example of people going against their own interests.

      That last part is what I’m saying. Once we know, then I think we ought to do something other than just know…but the list is growing, right? And companies are in control, now more than ever.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yep, I do. LOL. I haven’t been into Target at all since the incident (June). I wrote headquarters and wasn’t satisfied with their response so they can’t have my dollars.

        Starbucks sent me a gift card after an email and I put it in the break room for grabs. I just couldn’t use it.

        And don’t get me started on the Girl Scouts. Someone in leadership should have pulled the plug on that inaugural participation (which I also did not watch). I thought the GS was about empowering young girls to be awesome women and this prez does the opposite.

        Pretty soon, I’m just going to be walking around naked and hungry with all these boycotts, but I’m taking my stand(s) because I know what I know.

        Liked by 1 person

  15. I just literally LOL-ed about “willful ignorance on this one.” I had a similar experience with H&M. I’d boycotted them for months for advertising a young black boy in a monkey hoodie. However I ended up going back in August due to their clothes being the best fit for my body shape. Smh.

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  16. Bravo. I have also boycotted the two stores you mentioned in your post for the same Reasons. Also hobby lobby. They have the same narrow minded views as chick-fil-a. I was taking an art class now that I am retired from teaching, and the instructor wanted us to get a specific brush which was only carried at that store. I raised my hand and stated what other brush could be used instead because I wouldn’t shop at a store that promotes bigotry. A few of the women in class who were much older than I asked me to explain. I did. To my shock,they agreed with the narrow minded views of hobby lobby. However, another lady after class thanked me for speaking up because she didn’t want to go to that store either. It’s important to stand up equality if we ever want to end discrimination and do what’s right. All we can do is continue to protest and boycott and stand up for what we believe in. And we have an obligation to enlighten others.

    Liked by 7 people

  17. Recently, some cruise ship company said no more kids under 18 are allowed on their cruise ships. It’s their choice, right? It doesn’t mean that they hate children, but it’s a business decision that they’ve made. Families with kids will simply have to choose another cruise ship company if they want to take a cruise. I won’t boycott them for that. It’s the same with the other examples you’ve made.
    Truth be told, I’m so tired of protests that I’m oblivious to them. Just because antifa or the kkk has it out for a company, I’ll still shop there.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree with the cruise ship example. I mean, if you have kids, then go somewhere else. But if I find out my dollars are being used to denigrate others, then nah. I’m good. At the same time I can see how 21st century protests are tiresome. There are…just…so…many.

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