Sisterhood Agenda

The Boycott As Powerful Protest

Latest posts by Angela D. Coleman (see all)

Boycotts are powerful protests.  People boycott for social change and this action can lead to greater personal and social empowerment.

Using your personal power, specifically a decision to withhold something that is wanted or needed, in order to use it as a negotiation strategy, is empowering and can get you noticed.  A boycott, usually involving the use of your own form of power, can get you a seat at the table.

With greater influence, you have more potential to get the desired outcome. With this act of defiance, you want to make sure you have something of value that will be greatly missed.  If you decide to boycott, what’s next?

Having a plan and strategy will lead to greater success.  This is true of all things in life and is relevant for boycotts.  Have an agenda, a wishlist of demands, and a method for your boycott idea to spread.  We call this spread “scale.”  Scaling your boycott by including others who share your agenda will maximize its effectiveness.

Examples of boycotts include African Americans boycotting businesses that refuse to treat them equally.  During the 1970’s, the success of the Black is Beautiful movement included a boycott of businesses that did not allow natural hairstyles and stores that did not offer ethnic hair options.

Unlike a lawsuit, which can take years and involves legal costs, such as the lawsuit for equal pay filed by the U.S. Women’s Soccer team, boycotts do not cost anything and can lead to more immediate results.

Athletes have been taking the knee before games to protest, and the WNBA, a Sisterhood Agenda global partner, has been protesting consistently for a while now in various ways for Black Lives Matter.

There is a difference between boycotts and other forms of protest.    A form of peaceful, nonviolent protest, a boycott is a more passive-aggressive approach.  But don’t be confused.  While it can be easier, more quiet and private than a public protest, for example, a march, it usually starts with the decision to deliberately withhold anticipated cooperation.  It starts with a personal decision to do something different.  This can change everything.

The unexpected occurs.  A boycott is a decision to do something by NOT doing something that you usually do.  A shock to the system, it is effective in its directness and capacity to spread quickly when others join your cause.  Then, it becomes an unstoppable movement.

Boycotts can be pretty persuasive and effective.  Rather than using violence or having a prolonged battle, a boycott is a mostly silent, non-confrontational way to change the world.

Tennis champion, Naomi Osaka, boycotted her match to protest over the “genocide of Black people by police”  by wearing a face mask with the name of different victims of police violence every time she competed.

Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The NBA refused to play and also took silent protesting activities a step further by boycotting. Using their influence and by failing to engage, these elite athletes forced a response.  As a result, the NBA, led by the powerful influencer, LaBron James, met with the players to find out what they wanted and how they could do better.  An important outcome of the NBA boycott is the widespread, national use of sports arenas and stadiums as voting centers.  This move contributed to the concept of an open, free, and fair electoral process for citizens of the United States.

Do you want to change the status quo?  Stop doing what you’re doing. Raise your self-awareness.  Think about where you spend your money, your time, and your energy.  Recognize your personal potential to see the changes that you want to see.

Do something different.  Stop giving and start receiving.

The biggest organizations can fall when people refuse to engage via boycott.

Photo credit:  Airbnb

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