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Want to spend your money wisely this holiday? Here’s how to get some bang for your buck.
This Black Friday is shaping up to be the best one yet! Walmart, Best Buy, Target, Sears, and other major stores are all opening their doors on Thanksgiving day itself so that brave shoppers can get an even bigger head start on holiday savings. You know what they say: Early bird gets the 4K TV! Those who prefer to shop from the comfort of their pajamas have a veritable cornucopia of online deals to choose from, whether you’re looking for a new laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
It can all be a little overwhelming. With so many deals to choose from and only so many hours in the day, it will be difficult to make the most efficient use of both your time and your wallet. Sure, there are plenty of buyer’s guides floating around the Internet today to help you find the best deal on a brand new PlayStation 4 bundle but where can you find a simple, comprehensive list of the ultimate in Black Friday deals?
Look no further. For the last few days, I have been scouring the Internet, looking for the cream of the Black Friday crop. I ran the data I collected through an algorithm that determines to the highest level of confidence where you’ll get the most bang for your buck this weekend. And now, I’m finally ready to present to you this definitive list of the seven best Black Friday deals, in no particular order.
1) Ferguson Library
You won’t find this deal on any other Black Friday list! For the low cost of whatever you can afford, you can help to create a safe haven for children in Ferguson, Mo., where schools have been closed recently due to recent events. The library in Ferguson has been able to stay open, providing the community with “WiFi, water, rest, [and] knowledge” and even serving as a gathering point for the teachers who can’t give formal lessons at school. Only about 7,000 people have taken advantage of this sale so far and, although the library’s director says that he’s “flabbergasted” by the number of donors, this incredible offer is still wide open. To take advantage of this deal, simply visit the library’s website and click “Donate” in the top righthand corner.
2) This Week in Blackness
I’ll get to the flat screens and the smartwatches in just a moment, but before I do, I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention one more thing. As you know, Ferguson has been the site of protests and police violence in the aftermath of the grand jury’s refusal to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of Michael Brown. Some mainstream media outlets seem to have been more sympathetic to the police in Ferguson than they have been to the protesters, despite the fact that the police are using tear gas and rubber bullets on crowds of people, even crowds who are currently caring for the wounded.
That’s where independent media outlets like Elon James White’s This Week in Blackness come in. With their fantastic radio coverage, TWiB has been trying to hold the police accountable for their actions and, for as little as a penny, you can help them continue to do just that. By comparison, a new Xbox One at Best Buy is still going to run you $329—that’s a lot of pennies that you could give to TWiB in return for some hard-hitting radio. Just visit the TWiB.fm site and scroll down to find the “Donate” button and give what you can.
3) Independent Businesses
OK, OK, you came into this list looking for deals and I’m asking you to make donations instead. I’ll make good on my initial promise: You wanted deals on actual, physical products and that’s exactly what I’ll give you. If you’re looking for something tangible to take home this holiday, I’ve still got you covered.
Beauty, hair, and culture blogger and Glam.com contributor Afrobella has compiled this list of 101 independent black-owned businesses that you can shop at this Black Friday. On her list, you can find everything from deluxe lollipops and handmade jewelry to breathtaking maxi dresses. For the same money you’d spend at an overpriced boutique this weekend, you can buy better products and support black entrepreneurship at the same time.
And if 101 shops aren’t enough to choose from, you can also peruse this list of over 800 Etsy stores, which are primarily owned by black women and other women of color.
4) Buttons, Pins, T-Shirts, Posters, and More
This is another exclusive scoop that you won’t find on any other Black Friday list this year! At this tiny, previously unknown online store, you can buy a handsome pin for $5 that says “NLG” with the “L” stylized as the scales of justice. Or you can buy a striking black T-shirt that reads “National Lawyers Guild” in white print.
Coincidentally, the organization that sells them—the National Lawyers Guild—is also providing arrestees in Ferguson, Mo. with pro bono legal representation. If you think being part of that work is worthy of your dollars, you can also donate to NLG directly.
5) Malcolm X Tee
If the National Lawyers Guild T-Shirt doesn’t appeal to you, you can also buy this Malcolm X T-shirt from the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement (MXGM). More importantly, you should know that MXGM is the organization that uncovered the tragic fact that a black person is killed by the police every 28 hours. If you’ve heard that powerful statistic circulating on social media, remember that MXGM is the source. Their members have also been on the ground, fighting against America’s epidemic of police brutality against people of color. For the low cost of a small donation, you can help MXGM with their work.
6) Ferguson Defense Fund
Did you know that over 60 protesters were arrested in Ferguson this Monday night alone, ranging in age from 17 to 66? This next deal is really three deals in one: For one low price, you can help these protestors post bail, find legal help, and rebuild their lives. An IndieGoGo for the Ferguson Defense Fund has been open since October but there are still a few weeks left to get this deal before it vanishes forever (or moves to another fundraiser). This one makes a great gift in honor of a friend or relative!
7) Southerners on New Ground
Chances are you’re also doing some holiday gift shopping this Black Friday. I know it can be a real chore to find presents that works for everyone but Southerners on New Ground (SONG) is a beautiful gift that does just that. SONG is an LGBTQ liberation movement in the American South that has always strived to advocate for everyone who needs help: queer people, people of color, undocumented people, working class people, and people with disabilities. They’ve also been influential in responding to the situation in Ferguson over the last few months, most recently hosting a protest in Atlanta where they connected police killings of young black men to the violence faced by undocumented people and women of color, transgender women included.
If you live below the Mason-Dixon line, a SONG membership is a must-have item. You can also donate money directly to SONG and watch them transform the American South in return. That’s a gift you can’t find in stores.
I should also note that there are other great deals out there waiting to be found—I encourage you to do some research of your own, too! The above are simply some initial suggestions to help you get started on your holiday shopping.
But of course, the very best deals of all are free. As counterintuitive as it might seem, one of the best ways to save money this Black Friday is to spend no money this Black Friday. On social media this week, black activists and organizations led by black Americans have called for shoppers to keep their pocketbooks closed this weekend.
Ryan Coogler, director of the Oscar Grant biopic Fruitvale Station and founder of Blackout for Human Rights, is urging Americans to #BlackOutBlackFriday in a display of solidarity for victims of police violence. BlackoutFriday.org, too, urges you to #ShopBlack and #ShopSmall instead. And as Forbes reports, Twitter users are also using the hashtag #NotOneDime to encourage people to save big this Friday by not spending any money.
Boycotting Black Friday this year is one of the best deals you can find: For no money whatsoever, you can make a powerful statement that you stand with victims of police brutality at a crucial moment in the history of U.S. racial politics. But if you can’t help but shop, just stick to any or all of the seven deals listed above and you can’t go wrong. Guaranteed.
Photo via Kool Cats Photography/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Samantha Allen writes about sex, sexuality, and gender. She's a senior reporter at the Daily Beast, but she's also contributed to Paste, Hello Giggles, Salon, the Advocate, Mic, and others. Allen holds a doctorate in women's, gender, and sexuality studies from Emory University, and her piece "Why Bisexual Men Are Still Fighting to Convince Us They Exist" won the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism Article in 2018.