The exact origin of the term ‘Black Friday’ appears unclear. One theory refers to the excessive traffic and overcrowding that occurs as consumers flock to the stores to catch the bargains in stores that follow Thanksgiving, creating traffic jams and congestion. The other theory draws on traditional accounting methods which use the color black to report profits in the clear, which is what usually happens to stores in the holiday season. Whatever the origin, what is clear is that Black Friday is truly a day that pays homage to the American ideal of exorbitant consumerism.
Nowhere was this Black Friday excess more evident than at a Walmart in Long Island at a 5am ‘doorbuster sale’. Indeed, the doors of this particular Walmart were burst from its hinges as 2000 frenzied shoppers ‘busted’ through the entrance. In the process Jdimytai Damour, a 34 year old Walmart employee was crushed to death. According to news reports, the people pushed past the fallen man and when the announcement was made that the store would be closed due to a few injuries (including a pregnant woman) and a DEATH, people raised their voices in protest. They were upset that they had too wait so long in the lines over the last day and now they were being forced out of the store before they could secure the elusive bargain. This is the real tragedy of the situation. That people were willing to prioritize their shopping needs above a dying man.
Of course, it is not really surprising that this incident occurred at a Walmart store. Walmart is the very epitome of American consumerism. It is known for overworking and underpaying employees, skimping on benefits and creating marketing strategies that target lower socio-economic neighborhoods. So it is not surprising that one of their employees perished in their endless pursuit to make a buck.
The question now is what is to become of Jdimytai Damour’s family and friends? Will they be compensated or receive any sort of recognition that what happened to their beloved was pointless and tragic. What did this man die for? It was not to defend the freedom of the American people nor any other noble agenda. Perhaps we could say that it was defending the freedom of Americans to consume. However, does anyone really believe that the death of any single person can be justified by this reasoning?
When the Walmart death comes up in conversation it is clear that Americans are upset and horrified. However, the fact that there were those who pushed passed paramedics trying to save Damour’s life is indicative of the apathy of Americans in matters such as this. Yes, they are horrified but still they turn out in record numbers every year and take on a new, savage persona as they rip through stores seeking out bargains. If anything, one would have hoped the flailing economy could have quenched their insatiable need.
Now Americans and indeed other consumers around the world need to question what are the really important things in life. Certainly not the latest Wii or flat screen TV. Life is far more important then anything we can find in a store and we must learn to respect the life and liberty of others and not just our own.