Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Boycott by Blacks Revives Debate over Merits of Tactic N.Y.C.'S African-Americans Are Urged to Stay Home during Biggest Shopping Day of the Year - a Controversial Effort to Protest Their Treatment by Retailers.; POCKETBOOK PROTEST

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Boycott by Blacks Revives Debate over Merits of Tactic N.Y.C.'S African-Americans Are Urged to Stay Home during Biggest Shopping Day of the Year - a Controversial Effort to Protest Their Treatment by Retailers.; POCKETBOOK PROTEST

Article excerpt

Peering through chic Chanel glasses, Shawnee Pareoca is examining the gold chains at Lord & Taylor's jewelry counter.

She's buying some holiday gifts early because the day after Thanksgiving, traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year, she and thousands of other African-Americans in New York City will stay home.

They're boycotting stores to protest what they see as retailers' racial intolerance and to demonstrate the black community's growing economic clout. "We are spending some $400 billion a year with people who seem to hold black consumers in contempt," says Bob Law, chairman of the Citywide Leadership Alliance, the local civil rights group that is organizing the boycott. "We are followed around the store, accused of theft. We're treated as though they really don't want us there." Since the 1954 bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala., the purse has been a powerful weapon in the civil rights movement's arsenal - even if it hasn't always been used effectively in more recent decades. But now, as the movement repositions itself, the economic boycott is reemerging as an important, and increasingly controversial, tool for bringing about social change. In the past two years, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has started grading hotels and telecommunications companies on their hiring practices and behavior toward the black community. Those that fail get boycotted. In Miami, a 1,030-day boycott of the area's tourist industry produced the development of the first black-owned hotel on Miami Beach this summer. Dramatic growth of the black middle class is a key reason the boycott is back. As World War II began, only 10 percent of the African-American population was classified as middle class. Today, 50 percent fall into that category - and their combined incomes are larger than the gross national product of several industrialized countries. …

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