Chalk up the lack of religion in this post to the flurry of planning, cooking and binging demanded by the American god of Thanksgiving. To its aftermath, actually.
Taking a break from the regular news and chatter for a quick and guilty read about my beloved and atrocious Knicks, I came across this story in the Daily News gleefully putting troubled shooting guard J.R. Smith in his place for posting an Instagram image claiming that the origin of the term Black Friday was in the slave trade. It’s not. By the time of the article Smith, already chastised, had taken it down.
And what was this outrageous and implausible Black Friday origin myth over which Smith “made a fool of himself” and was revealed as a man who “can’t even grasp basic American history?”:
“DID YOU KNOW: Black Friday stemmed from slavery? It was the day after Thanksgiving when slave traders would sell slaves for a discount to assist plantation owners with more helpers for the upcoming winter (for cutting and stacking fire wood, winterproofing etc.), hence the name,” read the graphic, complete with an illustration of a slave auction.
Yeah, because nothing like that took place in American history.
Still, the Daily News’ Jaime Uribarri drags Smith through the mud by recounting the cruelty of online critics:
“You’re a f——— idiot” was one of the the more blunt responses to the head-scratcher of a post, while others, like Twitter user @j_weech1, tried enlightening Smith about the true meaning of the term.
“It’s called Black Friday because businesses get into the black (profit) for the year, because it’s the biggest day.”
Unfortunately for Uribarri, who clearly believes @j_weech1 has hit upon the correct origin of the term, he hasn’t. I know, I was as shocked as the next person to learn that the Daily News via Twitter isn’t an entirely accurate source, but I was also interested to learn that the origin of Black Friday, as it pertains to the day(s) following Thanksgiving at least, has nothing to do with profits and losses. It was simply a term coined by Philadelphia cops in the 60s to describe the post-Thanksgiving clusterf**k of downtown traffic caused by holiday shoppers. Initially despised by the retail industry they seem to have rebranded the term in the 80s with more positive connotations (though the annual death and injury toll may take a bite out of the PR, if not the bottom line).
J.R. Smith has his demons…and he’s certainly made his share of mistakes — from suspensions for weed, elbowing other players, and untying the shoelaces of opponents, to petulantly refusing to shoot, taking bad shots, and mucking up team chemistry. But calling a man stupid for believing what sounds to me like a wholly plausible story about America because he, as a basketball player, didn’t check his facts before posting to Instagram seems beneath even the Daily News. And given that their correction was incorrect I’ll take JR’s step-back jumper over Uribarri’s fact-checking any day. Amen.