Red Friday

red_welding masks

2013-11-24 – I always thought I had a pretty good sense of color. I score pretty high on a variety of color blindness tests. High, meaning that I can discriminate colors pretty well. So I notice when Democrats go from being pink (or even red) to blue and Republicans go from being white to being . . . well, white.

The thing that focused my attention on the color issue is the approach of Black Friday. A phrase like “Black Friday” normally connotes catastrophe. The most notable black day was Black Tuesday, which was the day of the stock market crash that kicked off the Great Depression. The term Black Friday was first applied in this sense to the day after Thanksgiving by cops in Philadelphia in the 1960s because of the traffic jams and mobs coming to begin their Christmas shopping.

Merchants were not happy with the term and tried to change it, but in the 1980s someone realized that they could spin Black Friday in a positive direction by saying that that day after Thanksgiving was when merchants began to turn a profit for the year. They went into the black. That’s when the name gained broad acceptance by the merchants.

It’s not surprising that this occurred in the me-decade, the time when corporate selfishness and greed somehow became a family value in this country. On the day after Thanksgiving, merchants may go into the black, but customers go into the red.

Maybe we should start calling it Red Friday.

But that would never work. As a color, red often has the connotation of “stop.” When you come to a red light, you have to stop. We would never want to stop the shopping frenzy.

The stop-on-red rule once was a hard and fast rule. But that changed in the 1970s, when right-turn-on-red was adopted. The country has been turning right on red ever since.

And, of course, green means go. In the old days green was also solidly associated with the color of money.  In recent years, though green has become the color of ecology and sustainable growth. When did we get so mixed up?

Pink used to be associated with socialism (as watered-down red communism, I suppose). But it has also long been thought of as a girl color, with sky-blue being the boy color. Pink continues to be associated with women’s health issues, but babies now are often dresses without regard to the pink-blue divide.

Which brings me to the rainbow. When I was younger, Jesse Jackson had his rainbow coalition, which embraced a diversity of races. But the rainbow is now the banner of LGBT diversity. Before Jesse Jackson, the rainbow was something that a girl in Kansas sang about shortly before being swept off to Oz by a tornado. I guess some things do stay the same.

* * *

It seems that wanting to rename Black Friday is becoming a tradition for me. Last year I wanted to call it Blank Friday.

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