Martin Luther King: “I have a – sale?”

The traditional morning check of my email revealed an ad from my local pizza shop, offering me a large pizza for half-price in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. Then, reading the local news channel at WGRZ in Buffalo, NY showed a feature article about all the great deals I could get in MLK sales in the area.

So I Googled MLK sales events and came up with a shocking array of all the retail deals I could get. What I could not find in Google (or anywhere else) was any reference by Martin Luther King on retail sales – other than African-Americans having equal access to stores. But alas, in the 2014 MLK retail “events,” African-Americans cannot actually participate in those either. Why?

The unemployment rate for African-Americans is double the national average. Median wealth (as measured by home ownership – like everyone else) is pennies on the dollar compared to whites. And outside of not having any money, African-Americans are too busy being harassed by bill collectors 20% more than whites.

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To capitalize (literally) on Martin Luther King Day is to specifically exclude African-Americans. While I understand that capitalism is about making money, what I cannot fathom is this exclusion of African-Americans from participating in capitalism. Aggregate demand in economics knows no race. John Maynard Keynes never mentioned race. African-Americans are just as likely to spend their money as any other “American” – if they actually were allowed to have it.

And how many MLK retail sales events are there in the EuroZone or Canada? Zero. How many retail sales events were in South Africa for Nelson Mandela? Zero there as well. And I cannot find any other place in the world that has advertised retail sales event that excludes other races.

Somehow, I don’t think retail sales to the exclusion of African-Americans are what Martin Luther King meant when he said: “I have a Dream.”

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