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What Do You Boycott, and Why?
by Mary Moore
. . . The main ingredients to a successful boycott
are communication, solidarity and perseverance. . .
BOYCOTTS HAVE BEEN AN EFFECTIVE SOCIAL CHANGE STRATEGY FOR YEARS. From the
1960s bus boycotts in the south to the United Farm Workers boycotts in the
70's things change when people use their pocketbook power. The main ingredients
to a successful boycott are communication, solidarity and perseverance. More
recent boycott victories are Nestlé's (hooking third world women
on baby formula) and the tuna industry (killing dolphins). In both cases
the people did triumph when the mega-corps changed their wicked ways. Most
of us are working for fundamental systemic change that would do away with
these large centrally controlled industries but until that happens we need
to keep up the pressure by using our consumer power in an organized manner.
With that in mind we went to local activists to find out what they boycott
Kit Mariah & Eddy Sallee: "The reason we boycott anything is to avoid participating in poisoning, pollution, oppression or violation of life. Among the companies and products we boycott are Johnson & Johnson, any cosmetics, nail polish, hair spray, perfume, TELEVISION, Emporium, Macys, Sears, the state of Colorado, the state of Virginia, General Electric, Hewlitt/Packard, table grapes, beef, pork, lamb, veal, Foster Farms, Coors, Polyester, Dennys, Shell/Chevron/Exxon, Coca Cola, Nestlé's, the United Way, Boy Scouts of America, plastic and any large corporation when there is a small business available."
Lenny Weinstein, Monte Rio: "I used to bank with Wells Fargo but after I discovered that they backed the nuclear industry (in general and Diablo nuke specifically) I withdrew my funds from there. The bank manager claimed to know nothing about it but I didn't believe him."
Kris Welch, Berkeley: "GrapesGallo and all things connected to organized labor. We need to get the word out more about boycotts."
Gayle McClure, Penngrove: "I boycott anything that is unfair to the people who grow it, pick it, sow it or whatever. However we need more information about boycotts so we'll know what those things are."
Charla Gardner, Santa Rosa: "It's not always products we should boycott, sometimes it's places. In Europe they boycott Florida and Texas because of the death penalty and in England there is a boycott of Norway because of whaling practices."
Wayne Gibb, Forestville: "I boycott General Electric, one of the country's biggest polluters. They are heavily involved in the production of nuclear weapons."
Chris Olsen, Sebastopol: "AT&T for their involvement
in nuclear weapons."
Mariah Jones, Rohnert Park: "Dow for producing napalm in the Viet Nam war. General Electric for exposing workers to radiation. Grapes and iceburg lettuce to support the United Farm Workers, Safeway for its shabby treatment of the United Farm Workers, Snapple for having Rush Limbaugh as their spokesperson regardless of whether they are backed by the Ku Klux Klan. AT&T and MCI because they are nuclear weapons system contractors. Denny's because of their treatment of African Americans. The Chronicle because it's so conservative and does a terrible job on civil rights issues either through omission or bias. I think the Examiner does a much better job. If I drank beer I would boycott Coors. I use boycotts a lot because I don't want to give my money to those who hurt others."
Laura del Fuego, Cotati: "Boycott ANHEUSER BUSCH, owners of Sea World, Bud, Beer and Eagle Brand snacks. Avoid visiting marine parks where whales and dolphins are being displayed.
Picture this; you have left your children aged four and five in a local park for a minute to get a drink of water from a fountain nearby. And you look up to see four adults, all perfectly respectable looking, surrounding them with nets, attempting to carry them off. People are milling around, but horror of horrors, how could this happen!, no one is protesting or even taking notice. You find out that they were taken to a far away destination half way across the world where curious citizens, all perfectly respectable, or so they say, put them in a 'park' calling it a 'natural habitat'. "These children," they tell you in form letters, "were living in a dangerous area many of them were being hurt and sometimes even killed, so we felt it was in their best interest to bring them to the 'park' where they will be fed and cared for. Also our people are curious about their precocity and intelligence and we'd like to observe that first hand. Not to worry. We give them candy and popcorn, and let 'em watch their favorite videos. And of course they're perfectly safe because they never, absolutely never can leave the 'park'. And it appears that they have forgotten about their families altogether as they run around and play and laugh whenever we throw candy and gum at them." What they don't tell you is that the kids usually live to be about ten, maybe twelve if they're lucky, or in this case unlucky, and haven't been reproducing well. But the park which is owned by Big Suck Corp. is investigating the problem and with any luck at all it will be resolved, and in their words, "We will be able to enjoy these darling little kids, and their cute little babies any day now" They say. Write: August Busch, CEO, Anhauser Busch Inc. 1 Busch Place, Lt. Louis, MO. 63118. Also write to U.S. Rep. Gerry Studds D-NY, one of your congress members to strengthen the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and ban the capture of wild dolphins and whales for public display, U.S. House of Representatives, DC 20515.
Lorayne Martinez, Camp Meeker: "I am boycotting now and until they change their exploitative policies, which will probably be forever, Levi Strauss & Co. They are shutting down factories in the U.S. where they have already been exploiting workers, mostly Spanish speaking women, to actually move their operations to a `third world' country. By doing this thousands of people are out of work, they are not given training for anything else, and they lose everything. From there they move on to making slaves out of people by moving to a country that does not have a minimum wage to pay their slaves for one day's work what they would have paid in the U.S. for one hour! This is not the only company doing this. Whenever you see things made in China, Korea, India, Mexico, Costa Rica, Indonesia etc. think about it. I urge everyone to buy used as much as possible."
BLACK MARIA, LA CHOLA'S RECIPE FOR A BOYCOTT
Boycott television commercials boycott public television commercials boycott ugly mini malls boycott city hall opportunists boycott phonies piglets and crocodiles disguised as humans boycott snake oil hawkers and carnival barkers disguised as spiritual advisors (spit-itual as Rajneesh would say) Common as horse flies in a cow pasture in these parts om padme om boycott drug store Indians boycott the New Age businesses who are wearing the 'Emperor's New Clothes' in regards to employee treatment and working conditions. You know who you are. boycott people who love trees and hate people especially people whom they think of as exotic, or dangerous boycott pro-lifers who kill or who can't and never will get pregnant boycott Hollywood mafiosos and fantasy violence hawkers about eighty or ninety percent of all celluloid cinema toxic fallout and video shop waste with Sylvester Stallone, Clint Eastwood Van Damme and Eddie, kiss my raw meat, Murphy boycott all pictures of womens' bodies in poses of humiliation contortion and mutilation Boycott women who wear six inch stilletos and say He did it, (raped, murdered, and, and was an infantile ninni) because he was hurting he had a sad childhood who didn't boycott violence in all things including the Press, New York Times owned, Demon-crat and the S.F. Chronic-nag-rag-ile, (unless you wanna read Sylvia.) boycott taxation without representation type stuff like the Military Industry, the Congress and House scam, the good looking nice guy Madison Avenue Presidency, including, Barbara, get the posse out to the border boys and pronto, Boxer, turn coat, and her cohort Diane, I'm a concerned citizen who's rich, and worried about my investments and class interests, Feinstein whose sky high salaries we are paying boycott their salaries boycott preservatives and areosal spray boycott fossil fuel boycott fast food burger stands that cut down forests to graze cows whose flatulence is pervasive and dangerous boycott farting cows and corporate pigs. (Sorry pigs, the real ones, I mean) Oh yeah, and don't forget to boycott Bruce Anderson's poison pen and 'Clint Eastwood, make my day' attitude. One only wonders where he gets enough leisure time to sit around all day long writing and whining and copping an attitude about so called 'unpleasant can't stay in their place uppity ladies?' (Safe targets, que no?) But then, maybe he works in the fields all day long with farm workers and does it in his spare time? Sor-rey, the old ploy 'take it out on the under dog or beat your wife when you're mad at the boss' syndrome, doesn't work anymore, big fella. Try being more creative. Less Neanderthalish.
Mix it all together and bring to a boil and let simmer. Serve cold. Boycott goulash with a dash jalapeno and tortillas de maize. Hasta la vista, y ay te watcho, pues, homey.
The Radical, uppity, loud mouth gourmet, AKA La Chola.
Peggy Noton, Petaluma: "I boycott companies because I oppose the way they treat their workers, their customers and/or the environment. I'd like to boycott every greedy, profit hungry corporation, but until I stop buying gas for my car, national brands of food or new clothes that won't happen. As I write this, I realize to my pleasant surprise that I buy almost no corporately produced food. Here is my short list. After reading everyone elses input I'm sure my list will grow. I boycott grapes in solidarity with farm workers. I boycott General Electric very strictly ever since seeing "Deadly Deception" which detailed the cancers that G.E.'s nuclear plants have caused and the companies slimy attempts to cover them up. I boycott Jessica McClintoch and Levis for exploiting third world workers, Whole Earth Food markets because they are a big chain that put local health food stores out of business and Crown and other large book store chains that do the same thing to small bookstores and small publishers."
Nancy Moorhead, Sebastopol: "We boycott grapes and anything by Carl's Jr and we also boycott Snapple."
Mike Agnew, Occidental: "I've boycotted Exxon ever since the Valdez spill and besides they're way overpriced, and of course grapes and Safeway."
Mary Moore, Occidental: "It surprised me that not very many people mentioned Coors (or their brands George Killiann's Red, Herman Joseph, Golden Lager, Masters). Longtime Bohemian Club member Joseph Coors has such rightwing politics that his beer has been the target of organized boycotts by labor (heavy duty union busting in the '70's), pro choicers, gay rights groups, black organizations and just about any organized group working for justice. He was a major backer of the Contras in Nicaragua and cofounder of the rightwing Heritage Foundation founded in 1973. If there is one thing that progressives can unite around it is a boycott of Coors beer."
Mama O'Shea: "I have been boycotting grapes ever since Cesar called the first boycott so many years ago. I could never figure out which were O.K. and which weren't so I boycotted them all and I love grapes. I also boycott Coors, General Electric and Domino's Pizza for their anti-choice stance and their right wing financing."
Toni Novak, Healdsburg: "If one is a non-capitalist in a capitalist society, there are few avenues of meaningful dissent. But one of the most fundamental methods, and the one that strikes hardest at the obnoxious system, especially if enough people participate, is the spending or non-spending of one's funds. True, we must pay the power and phone bills, and most of us depend on petroleum products for travel, but there is some choice. I have used both Working Assets and Allnet as long distance carriers. Allnet is the only company with no ties to weapons building. I'll never go back to AT& T.
Food choices are one of the easiest places to exercise dollar power. By reading the fine print on the label, I avoid mega-corporations like General Foods, Proctor & Gamble (which forbids the words abortion or lesbianism on any show it sponsors), RJ Reynolds (maker of Camels) and the like. I go to local fruit stands or Farmers Markets for produce. I never buy commercial table grapes because the United Farmworker's Boycott is still on. I avoid Safeway because of their past anti-consumer practices and their vertical monopoly on many products. When possible, I shop at locally owned markets. The few extra pennies I pay are worth it because more of the profoit stays in the community.
For banking, a credit union is a good choice because the profits belong to the members. I will never use Bank of America which has foreclosed on much California family farmland, piled up debt in underdeveloped countries and shafted its workers. Nuclear Free America provides an excellent list of weapons makers and all their civilian products. The General Electric lightbulb boycott is an attempt to demonstrate public disapproval of this second biggest military contractor. I also avoid Sylvania lightbulbs for the same reason. There are alternatives, some of them cheaper. I also avoid products made in coutries whose politics are repressive: Israel, Taiwan, South Korea for starters, but some alternatives exist, like Pueblo to People which buys from local village co-ops in places like Guatamala and the Philippines and bypasses the repressive state. I have to think, plan and spend a little more to buy correctly and none of us are perfect. But I have tried to spend my money in accordance with my politics for the past 25 years, and I'm happy to say it's possible!"
Judi Bari, Willits: "Lots of people have asked us why we don't
boycott timber so I'd like to answer that. Unlike grapes, wood is primarily
sold on the wholesale level. Most wood is sold to large development companies
which are dependent on the timber companies for supplies and sometimes ARE
the timber companies like Weyerhauser. So boycotting is not always an applicable
strategy. In the case of timber our strategy is slowing and blocking production.
I do however boycott the big food industry by buying all my food in
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