Blackmail refers to a situation that arises when a person threatens another person with some form of punishment if they do not offer some form of concessions. Blackmail is usually the result of one person somehow obtaining embarassing information about another and threatening to disclose it unless some form of payment (money or favors) is offered. The term originates from the words "black" and "mail", which referred to the dark or threatening nature of the letters (mail) that were received detailing the threat. Although blackmail usually entails paying a price to obtain another person's silence about an embarassing situation, it need not involve an actual event before it can be conducted. The threat of embarassing someone for a contrived event can be enough to conduct blackmail effectively, provided the threat is believable.
's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
frequently tells companies that if they do not donate to their cause and hire their members, they will accuse them of racism
and organize commerce-damaging protests. Whether any racism exists or not, the threat of income loss and negative publicity is enough to extract blackmail money.