Many of today’s consumers feel worried by the outcome of the election and recent attempts to marginalize their various communities. Or should we say the majority of consumers!

They include: the majority who voted against the current administration and its policies; the majority of religious and ethnic communities that make up the market place; and the undocumented aliens who pay taxes and spend their money here. They all are concerned that the American ideals of inclusiveness, personal freedom, and civil rights are being eroded. They are anxious about selective bans on entry and threats of deportation that can affect their families and friends. They are fearful of racism emboldened by the remarks of our highest officials. What’s worse is that they feel disempowered and vulnerable. They feel like there’s nothing they can do about it. But there is!

We often say, “Consumers vote with their purchases.” Throughout history, marginalized groups have survived by deliberately spending their money on goods and services produced and offered by other members of their community. They have gone out of their way to not patronize businesses that support their marginalization in any way, manner, or form. This has forced big companies to “come out” in support of their rights, privileges, and security. It’s kind of like a big boycott. It certainly makes companies aware of who is working for them, who is buying their products, and who is ultimately putting money in their pockets. It’s that marble cake of ethnic and religious communities we call the American consumer.

By boycotting the products and services of companies who either support marginalization or who are silent about it, you can force every business from your corner store to corporate America to take sides on these issues. And the side they are going to take is the side their bread is buttered on, their consumers’ side!

As Harvey Milk once said about the LGBT community, the only way to make change happen was to “Come out, come out where ever you are!” He wanted LGBT folks to make themselves known, as if to say, “Look how many we are. We’re part of your society, we’re part of your market, and we’re part of your income. Do you want our business or not?”

As consumers, todays marginalized communities can learn a lot from Harvey. Simply put, if you don’t like what’s going on, don’t pay for it! Don’t patronize companies that agree with turning back the clock.

It’s interesting that companies that rely on seasonal workers to harvest their crops and do other types of heavy physical labor have already come out against policies that would rob them of their labor force. Other companies that realize how dependent they are on ethnic consumers have also come out. They want to reassure their customers that they support them so those consumers will continue to buy from them.

If one minority can be marginalized, any minority can be marginalized. They all know it, and have good reason to boycott any business that supports the unraveling of all the hard-earned social progress we have made over the past 50 years.

So, if you don’t like the outcome of the last election, and if you don’t like the way top officials have emboldened racism and religious prejudice, you still have a strong card to play. It’s in your wallet! The next time you pull it out, ask yourself this question, “What am I really supporting with my purchases?” Get to know how your vendors stand on the important issues that affect your lives and those you love. Vote with your dollars!

Who Are We.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse in 1986, to the board room of E&J Gallo, where they successfully sold their brand in 2005. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful and help corporations achieve entrepreneurial cultures to engage and empower their people.

Currently they travel the world keynoting at universities, corporations, conferences and symposiums. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals; along with being FOX News Radio Network’s Workplace Culture Experts. They are also the recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Entrepreneur Speaker Award from the Turner School of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Bradley University. Visit their popular brand building site at www.thebrandauthority.net. To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact info@thebarefootspirit.com.

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey
-Barefoot Wine Founders