Yestereve, I was having dinner with my dear friend Shelly Horn at Spice in Chelsea, when I checked my Facebook page via my phone. An ally/comrade/acquaintance of mine in Minneapolis had posted a link to a story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune in which Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel offers an apology for the corporate donation to Minnesota Forward and pledges to establish a review committee for any future political contributions to ensure that the money does not go to candidates that are going to piss off the Target employees and shoppers in the future (paraphrasing is all mine). This friend of mine from back home had posted this article on my wall saying, "In your face Brandon Lacy Campos, boycotts are effective."
Now. I am going to say this for the last damn time. Never in ANY of my writing on this subject have I ever said that boycotts are ineffective, and least of all in my blog Why Not To Boycott Target. I have, indeed, reference successful boycotts in order to illustrate WHY they were successful and HOW they were organized. Disorganized boycotts with no concrete organization or political goals, such as the call for a Target Boycott, hurt workers without doing anything to engage them or empower them to be a part of the solution. The grape boycott was exactly the opposite, it included the farm workers who helped strategize the boycott. They had an understanding that immediate personal economic loss would lead to higher wages and better working conditions.
I have been very clear to keep my analysis to this particular circumstance and suggest strategies that would get us to where we need to go and build stronger coalitions along the way. And, for the last time, I have offered unconditional support to any individual that chooses to not shop at Target because of the MN Forward donation. That is the last I will say on that subject.
But, what disturbs me most about the statement, "In your face Brandon Lacy Campos, boycotts are effective,:" is not that there seems to be some "gotcha game" being played between people that are allies, nor is it that instead of seeing the suggestions for action as disagreement about strategies and a political dialogue but instead as an opportunity to silence or deride folks in the same community, it is the fact that anyone could read that piece of crap apology in the Star Tribune and think to themselves, "WE WON!"
Nowhere in the article did Target agree to withdraw their donation. Target did not agree to lead by example and remove itself from future political contributions, thereby recognizing that the Citizens United ruling was foolish and bad for democracy, nor did the company even give lip service to justice by offering an offsetting donation to an LGBT rights organization. All that was offered was a lukewarm "I'm sorry," that sounded more like an apology that some employees and some people in the community were angered by the donation instead of a sincere regret at the damage done to the community of workers at Target and the community at large. The difference between an apology and an amends is this: An apology is meant to make the apologizer feel better, an amends is meant to fix the damage done and put things right with the aggrieved.
This was an apology and not an amends, and, therefore, I reject it.
I was debating whether or not to write about the apology today, but no sooner did I have that thought, that a friend of mine from college posted a note on my wall saying that he thought he heard that Target apologized. It helped me realize that Steinhafel was playing a smart media game. It is easy for anyone that hasn't actually read the newspaper article to assume that along with the apology came a remedy. And the way that the grapevine works, that apology, without analysis, will, indeed, take some of the pressure off of Target.
Thankfully our community is full to the brim of smart folks that saw it, read it, and then kept right on planning actions against Target.
I maintain that boycotting Target is the wrong approach to this situation. I will be checking in today with a friend of mine that met with the LGBT employee group at Target a couple of days ago, and I am anxious to hear how that went.
And let me be clear, I do support direct actions at Target Stores, and in that vein, if you are in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, there will be a peaceful demonstration tomorrow at the Southdale Mall Target Store at 7000 York Avenue from 11am-1pm.
Let's keep the pressure up, but let's also keep eye ours on justice and not just us.