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We’re coming to that point of the year again where everybody from Farrakhan to David Banner is going to encourage black people to boycott Christmas and show white people who’s boss. It never works — mostly because we like buying gifts, spending the holidays with our families, and buying new things for ourselves — but also because there’s never really any tangible action or outcome associated with the push. It’s extremely optimistic (read: unrealistic) to believe market analysts would notice a decline and profits and think, “We really pissed black people off this time. We better do right by them before next holiday season.” But what the success of Patti Labelle’s pies shows is when we like something, we have the power to make it pop, and when we don’t we can also send a product back from whence it came.


Patti LaBelle Sweet Potato Pie

It’s a fact we’ve long known, and in recent years has been magnified by Black Twitter, but the economic impact has never been made so clear as it has been in the case study of Patti’s pies. Yahoo estimates sales of just under $1 million this past weekend alone, which means Miss LaBelle is about to be singing a whole new tune. But so should we. And no, we don’t mean following in this guy’s footsteps, we mean putting our money where our mouth is.

On one hand, this example serves as a reminder of the way we can recycle the black dollar by supporting businesses owned and operated by black entrepreneurs. On the other, we have proof that we can also cripple a business that doesn’t serve or support our needs as a people. Instead of a broad campaign asking black people not shop at all during the holidays, because we all know that’s not going to happen, concerted efforts targeting specific businesses to patronize — or not — is a much way to go. And we can thank Patti LaBelle for that lesson.

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