Thanksgiving is the New Black2 min read

Stephanie Chao, Staff Writer

Thanksgiving is rapidly becoming Black Thursday, as more and more mega-retailers are opening their doors earlier in anticipation of holiday shoppers on a bargain-hunting spree.

Big retail chains such as Target and Toys R Us are now opening doors as early as 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving for shoppers looking to kick-start the Christmas shopping season early.

Although Black Friday (and Cyber Monday) are widely accepted consumer events in the United States, how far are retailers and advertisers willing to stretch the holiday season in order to make a few quick bucks?

Thanksgiving is meant to celebrate unity and togetherness; it’s a time to be grateful for all the little things in life, such as family.

The holiday season is the quintessential American cultural tradition where families and friends reunite and show love for one another. It is the polar opposite to Black Friday, a day infamous for promoting rampant consumerism and instigating violent incidents each year between shoppers looking for the ultimate bargain.

There have been several cases where customers have caused injuries or death on Black Friday, in a frenzied rush to snatch up the best deals. In 2011, a woman assaulted fellow shoppers with pepper spray in a Los Angeles Wal-Mart in order to get a discounted video game console.

During 2008’s Black Friday, a New York Wal-Mart employee was trampled to death and four other people were reported to have suffered injuries.

In addition to the countless accounts of violent altercations during Black Friday, the extended hours have left retail employees overworked and underpaid.

Most employees who are forced to work overtime during Black Friday at big chains such as Wal-Mart and Starbucks are paid minimum wage and get few extra benefits in return. In 2012, over 200,000 Wal-Mart employees protested Black Friday and demanded higher wages, according to the LA Times.

With Black Thursday increasingly becoming the norm, many employees won’t be spending Thanksgiving with their loved ones. Instead, the holiday will be spent with frenzied, stampeding shoppers.

It’s ironic how we are willing to risk the well-being of others and ourselves on a day when we profess our gratefulness.

In our consumer-centric society, Black Friday and Thursday are encouraging people to forgo what is really important and the true meaning of the holiday spirit for 50 percent discounts on flat-screen TVs.

It’s time to reclaim Thanksgiving as the holiday it was meant to be, from the consumer-driven sales pitch it is becoming.