On Black Friday, a New Target: Occupy the Malls!

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CommonDreams.org

On Black Friday, a New Target: Occupy the Malls!

What's so effective about the Occupy movement is how it makes creative use of public space to get its message across.

For instance, the terrific techno-graffitti unleashed last night in New York, where protesters projected their message on to the Verizon Building without leaving a trace.

I have a idea for continuing this strategy, but with a new target: the great American MALL.

As you know, it's just one week until Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when all good patriotic Americans are supposed to line up at the big box stores at dawn, credit cards in hand, ready to start the mad Christmas shopping rush.

This year it seems that the whole capitalist enterprise that fueled those crazy Christmas shopping binges has started to crack and sway.

I dimly remember why Christmas is associated with gift-giving--it had something to do with the Three Wise Men bearing gifts to the baby Jesus, right? But this American tradition of giving mountains of gifts to one another, competing with each other to buy the biggest, shiniest, best gift of all--that has nothing to do with the spirit of Christmas.

Myself, I prefer to celebrate the winter Solstice in this season, the day when the deepening darkness turns the corner of the equinox and we begin the long slow return to light and warmth.

I propose that this Black Friday, Americans should link arms with our family and friends and Occupy the malls of America. Instead of driving ourselves ever deeper into debt with those credit cards, we should protest the corporate policies of outsourcing that have made it so unusual to see American-made products for sale in American stores.

If we want to put America back to work, we are going to have to reinvent the whole economic model of globalization. It had a nice ring to it, back in the 1980s and 90s when it was being implemented, but it has turned out to be a catastrophic failure on more levels than I can count.

What's needed now is a re-localization: a return to locally based economies, all over the world. Let the Chinese manufacturer goods for themselves while we get American factories humming again.

But this time, let those factories be worker-owned cooperatives rather than top-down corporations--just like Gore-Tex or Clif Bar or Eileen Fisher, all big brands that are actually owned by their employees.

Let's gather in malls and shopping centers all across the U.S. on Black Friday and use the Thanksgiving holiday to push the corporations represented there to do what's right for America.

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez

Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez teaches comparative literature and gender studies with an activist bent at Bard College at Simon's Rock in Great Barrington, MA and blogs at Transition Times.

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