Why is it called Black Friday?

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      We've all gotten used to the term "Black Friday" to describe the shopping pandemonium that occurs on the day after American Thanksgiving.

      But many don't know where the name came from.

      Often when black is used as an adjective, it describes something negative. And that doesn't sit well with antiracists, who recognize how language can influence people's perceptions.

      In the case of Black Friday, however, the word black is believed to refer to the time of the year when retailers start making an annual profit. In other words, that's the time when their bottom line moves from being in the red to being in the black.

      There are also many Internet references to Black Friday dating back to Philadelphia in the 1960s. According to these reports, people in Philly were so upset by traffic congestion that they started calling the big shopping day Black Friday.

      Meanwhile, Alabama chapters of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have called on shoppers not to buy anything on this year's Black Friday, which falls on November 25.

      The action is designed to heighten awareness about U.S. police officers shooting African Americans.

      “We are asking you to not shop on Black Friday," Bernard Simelton, president of the NAACP Alabama state conference, said. "We think that if people would stay home and enjoy their families, that will have an economic impact and bring more attention to the devastation that is happening in our communities.”

      In this instance, the NAACP's Alabama chapter is piggy-backing on Buy Nothing Day, which is promoted by anticonsumer activists around the world.

      Buy Nothing Day was actually invented by a former Georgia Straight production worker and artist, Ted Dave, 25 years ago. In an interview with the Straight in 1997, Dave said that he wanted Buy Nothing Day to fall in September, which it did for the first four years, because it wouldn't be perceived as being anti-Christmas.

      Dave regularly sent out news releases in the early years.

      According to Dave, Vancouver-based Adbusters magazine appropriated the name, became the "worldwide coordinator", and changed the date to coincide with Black Friday.

      “I mentioned in the early days that the only way to wreck Buy Nothing Day was to change the name or the date,” Dave said back in 1997. “That would confuse the issue. That’s why I became a little upset when they first said they were going to do one of the two things.”