What do Walmart employees have to say about Buy Nothing Day?

Today is Black Friday, and it is also Buy Nothing Day. Created by Kalle Lasn, for some of us, Buy Nothing Day is the only sane response to the frenzied celebration of mass consumerism that is known to most Americans as Black Friday. Or is it simply a way for middle class people “who have had the privilege of consumption their whole lives” to appease their guilt?

The above response to Buy Nothing Day proves that the best intentions - to show the “dark side of corporate greed,” to challenge the entrenched values of corporate capitalism, etc. - can serve to alienate, as opposed to cultivating solidarity of any kind. The necessary conversations about labour rights, resources, pollution and culture are not likely to take place in this context.

An option for making these points as part of a dialogue rather than a lecture might be to acknowledge the fact that a great many people rely on Black Friday to buy things that they really need, and that many much-needed jobs are depend on a national shopping spree for survival.

That said, I can’t help but wonder what the Walmart workers who are trying to organize to get better wages, health-care coverage and labour rights would say, given the chance to weigh in on the conversation. As one striking Walmart manager told Bloomberg Businessweek:

I work full-time for one of the richest companies in the world, and my kids get state health insurance and are on food stamps.

These are the people stuck between, or on either side of the argument, dependent on discounts to get by, but forced into fighting the Goliath of corporate greed.

The number of these workers is likely too small to make to change Walmart, but they’ve made big headlines and hopefully, they manage to change the conversation about consumerism.
 

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