Atlanta filmmaker and photojournalist Ric Mathis welcomed a packed house for the premiere of his documentary Black Friday: What Legacy Will You Leave on Friday, November 13. The film opened with the man-on-the-street question, “If you died today, would you leave behind bills or benefits?” While most stumbled through their answers, the film illustrated how the African American community is conditioned to be consumers as opposed to retainers of wealth. Many know the statistics on black dollars leaving its neighborhoods almost immediately (less than eight hours). Still, few understand that African Americans spend over 1.2 trillion dollars annually in the US economy. Dr. George Fraser’s segment in the documentary proved the statistics are correct: African Americans spend, rather than save, a disproportionate amount of their annual income. “AC Nielsen ratings proved that, on average, African Americans spend 72 hours watching television, which is 42% more time than any other race,” he explained. “If you are watching television 72 hours you are being told repetitively to buy and spend. Television is a tool used to sell more than anything. We are conditioned to be consumers.”
With that type of capital leaving the community, it’s clear that we’ve been tricked into believing that there isn’t any money “in da’ hood.” On the contrary, Black neighborhoods have plenty of money. However, Black households remain broke because they’ve been conditioned to immediately give its money, i.e. our power, away in exchange for material goods that depreciate and leave us in debt. This, in turn, leaves our children in debt. The African American community is mismanaging its livelihood just as Mathis’ film suggests. A key indicator as to why our lives have little to no value to other races and ethnicities is due to these very actions demonstrating we do not value ourselves.
If 98% of our money is spent outside of our community, what we value can only be found 2% of the time in our communities. Arguably, this disproves that black lives do matter – at least to us. It’s time for the African American community to use its consumer dollars to build wealth and retain it within the community. This will, in turn, give us a voice and grant us power.
Mathis received a standing ovation for the documentary and Q&A session following the premiere. rolling out founder and publisher Munson Steed joined Dr. Fraser along with Jim Clingman and Michael Imhotep on the panel following the documentary. A longstanding supporter of black-on-black economic support, Steed challenged attendees to reverse their position on consumerism. “The holidays are approaching and if you don’t have anything to sell, even if just to your family and friends, then you don’t understand the concept of this documentary. You should be spending with black business, but you have to get in the game.”
Mathis ended the evening simply by saying he was humbled at the overwhelming response. He plans to take the documentary on the road and his team is encouraging people to visit the site and sign up to be a part of this new movement. Producer Brad Lewis said the team is planning to lead a campaign for one million business transactions among African American businesses in 2016. “We are going to hold each other accountable for making a change. We aren’t just talking; this is about solutions.”
For more information on Black Friday or the upcoming campaign for one million business transactions visit www.thefilmblackfriday.com. Black Friday features appearances by Hill Harper, Judge Glenda Hatchett, David Banner, Dr. George Fraser, Cynthia Bailey, Dr. Claud Anderson, Jim Clingman, Dr. Umar Johnson, Jewel Tankard, Malcolm Jamal-Warner, Devin Robinson, Munson Steed and more.