June 9, 2021

20 companies pursuing change in the wake of the George Floyd Protests

20 Companies "stepping up" in response to the George Floyd protests

The other day, I read an article listing 20 companies that were guiding examples of change in the light of George Floyd’s death.

It was a listicle that was both well intentioned and infuriating. 

Most of the brands, like Aunt Jemima and the Band-Aid company, were highlighted for ‘progressive' changes such as renaming the brand from Aunt Jemima to the Pearl Milling Company or the Band-Aid company introducing a dark color set for their Band-Aids (did anyone ask Band-Aid for this)? 

To be fair, there were a few companies listed that had opened up their purse strings to the Black community, but most of these companies had agreed to very surface level changes. 

Is this the level of commitment that Black America expects from corporations?

We’ve spent so much goodwill and political capital on changing the patina of these companies. 

Personally, I don’t see how this will lead to more middle class Black families. Rather, when we walk down the aisle of the grocery store, we’ll see a few more comforting brands. 

I look at this article and I don’t blame the author, she’s simply reporting the changes, or even the corporations — what can we expect from companies in late stage capital anyway? 

I see this as a failure of Black leadership. Why aren’t we making our demands clear - that we want representation on corporate boards, investments in Black businesses and monetary commitments? 

There are disparate efforts from Byron Allen’s call for media investment from large corporations, like General Motors to invest more dollars in Black Media and Robert F. Smith's plan, the 2% solution, for large corporations to put 2% of their profits into the Black economy. 

But there’s no coordinated momentum. 

If we don’t have clear benchmarks, we will likely end up in a similar quagmire: companies passing the buck and occasionally being called out for their shortcomings.  

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