By TAMMY JOYNER A contingent of black radio talk-show hosts are calling for a national economic boycott Friday to protest what they consider racial and economic injustices across the country.
Attorney Warren Ballentine, who hosts a morning drive talk show that appears locally on WAMJ-FM, is urging people to not spend any money Friday. Ballentine got the idea for “The Blackout” after participating in several protest marches this year. The most recent drew thousands to the tiny town of Jena, La., where six black high school students faced attempted murder charges for beating a white teenager.
“After Jena, I decided there’s so many things going on in this country as far as [injustices within] the justice system,” said Ballentine, who goes by the moniker “The People’s Attorney.” Ballentine has enlisted help from other radio personalities, including Michael Baisden and the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose shows also air on WAMJ.
He said the one-day boycott is designed to call attention to a series of national concerns, ranging from displays of nooses to wrongly jailed youth to the U.S. mortgage crisis. “I’m a lawyer and I’m seeing a lot of people across the board suffer from the mortgage crisis,” he said. “I’m asking all Americans to participate, not just blacks. I’m asking people — if you can — don’t spend any money.”
With an estimated purchasing power approaching $1 trillion, black consumers are a formidable U.S. economic force. There are about 36.4 million blacks in the United States. But Ballentine quickly adds, the boycott is more a symbolic than economic stab at the nation’s problems. “It’s showing togetherness and unity and it’s one thing we haven’t shown the federal government in a long time,” Ballentine said. The attorney said momentum is building for the boycott.
“I know this is working because I’m getting death threats and advertisers are starting to worry that they’re going to lose money on this day.”