Gift Guide: Rethinking Black Friday

This year, my approach to giving is rooted in intention. I think, if I’m being honest, it always has, but I never really put a name to it. With that said, over the next few weeks, I’m going to give guides based on a cycle rooted in intent. When the holidays are done, we always end up back in and at a new year. And I believe the merriness of giving and receiving, shouldn’t be at a hard stop on January 1st, or at best, January 7th. If possible, I want to be in it, and I want to drag it on, as long as I need. Black Friday is no exception.

There were years in which I secretly knew my mother would gather things in a cart, ask me to “go look in an aisle” and then cover her goods with her oversized coat. She’d send me on another task when at the register. And the mystery bags were just everyday things for someone else, she said. All mostly done in a day, until Santa says they can be wrapped with care and time. When I was a new mother looking for gifts for my new family and extended family, I woke up at the crack of dawn and hit my favorite stores with gusto. The high was invigorating. Deals on things that I’ve eyed, my list scratched off in one day, and my pockets remained in-tact, mostly.

I don’t regret it. I actually, in many ways, love the excitement of gift giving, and the cold water plunge into it, right after stuffing ourselves silly.

But with a new sense of privilege (and audience) comes responsibility. I can afford to skip out and still be a participant in gift giving this year. I have time and working hands, and free weekends to create what I muster up. For that, I’m immensly grateful.

Not everyone can forgo their Black Friday participation. Whether it is the steep discounts, proving to be the only way many families can purchase gifts. Or the many who are part of the workforce who need to work on Black Friday to make ends meet. If you’re shopping, but don’t fall into these two categories, there are many ways to prioritize a thoughtful Black Friday, in addition to or as the sole focus of your shopping. Shopping black businesses and buying products from black brands, writers, creators, and makers is central. And if you’re giving is support for organizations in the name of those you love, that’s amazing too! There are many doing ground work that desire your help and focus this season.

Of course, this list falls short of the many. But there are still about two days for you to settle on that thing you want to buy and gift, and then research the maker. And chances are, there’s a black maker who makes that.

Here’s what I’ve got:

+ A Black Friday date to watch Queen & Slim. This film was directed by brilliant, Melina Matsoukas, written by Lena Waithe and styled by Shiona Turini. A methodical trio that has blown many away in the trailer alone. These ladies have magnified black stories, creatively, beautifully, and powerfully.

+ A multi skincare package from KLUR. A locally sourced, clean skincare line focused on the beauty and legacy of black women, created by Lesley Thornton.

+ Delicate Malia hoop earrings with a set bezel malachite stone from Nandi Naya. Cast in sterling silver or gold.

+100% cotton socks with exclusive patterns created by designer, Mengly Hernandez.

+ A copy of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Black Nature is the first anthology to focus on nature writing by African American poets, a genre that until now has not commonly been counted as one in which African American poets have participated.

+ Fe Noel super sheer chiffon hoodie robe, wore extravagantly through the house with your favorite night slip. Or in the spring and summer with a pair of jeans and simple top tucked in. If you’re looking for something else, you can try a beautiful wrap dress for that mid-winter escape you’re planning after Christmas.

+ A new solo record by Brittany Howard for playing right into your soul.

+ Woman Of Color, because it is still very much a baby and it alone funded this space for some time. It also makes a great gift (I’ve been told). Woman of Color, is part memoir, part lifestyle guide—packed with moving essays, gorgeous original and archival photographs, and practical style and beauty advice. At the very heart, though, it’s about my experience growing up as a woman of color in Brooklyn.

+ A favorite winter pick-me-up, in non-toxic, luuxury nail lacquer form. Brought to us by Kitiya Mischo King.

+ A stack of new books that celebrate blackness for those expecting (and not): Happy to Be Nappy (Board Book) and Skin Again, by Bell Hooks.

Other things to do:

Find your local black-owned bookstore and shop there on Friday. In Brooklyn, that’s Cafe Con Libros.

Stop into your local black-owned market or concept store. This Saturday, Blk MKT Vintage opens in Brooklyn. A curated collection, weaving the past in current day Brooklyn. A store made for and by historians, who know that shopping and gift giving can be intentional and a down-right beloved experience.

Take in the arts. In New York, you can visit the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture. If you’re not in New York, you can read their digital archives full of photography, lectures, and rare books.

Invest in freeing black moms. #FreeBlackMamas “…works to end systems of mass incarceration.” They work with groups all over the country on Mother’s day to bail out as many black Mamas and caregivers as they can. They also provide supportive services and fellowship oppurtunities for those they bail out and organize to end money bail and pretrial detention to support these communities. They work to end systems of mass incarceration and support our communities. You can donate on Friday, right here.

I’m sure I’ve missed a lot. Please add if you can! Happy holidays and happy giving!

(Photo by Andre D. Wagner for Queen & Slim. This post has affiliate links. If you choose to purchase something, we may earn a small commission. Thank you for helping us keep this small space running.)

4 thoughts on “Gift Guide: Rethinking Black Friday

  • Reply Jennifer November 27, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    I’m reading BLACK NATURE right now!! It’s so good!

    • Reply latonya November 28, 2019 at 3:49 am

      it is!! i got it two summers ago and really love it!


  • Reply steph December 1, 2019 at 8:34 pm

    i love everything about this – thank you! my suggestion haikus/date vouchers – they’re the best gift i’ve received and can be done so many ways:

    • Reply latonya December 4, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      Love this, Steph!!


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