In the wake of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police, companies large and small have chosen to take a stance and donated millions of dollars to organizations supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Floyd’s killing was not, of course, an isolated incident. The recent killing of Breonna Taylor, amongst so many others, has also brought to the fore a new awareness of the systemic racism that has plagued America since its founding and the importance of corporate support for long overdue justice.
Apple, for example, has pledged $100 million to a racial and justice initiative that CEO Tim Cook says will “challenge the barriers to opportunity and dignity that exist for communities of color, and particularly for the black community.” Google, Amazon and Facebook have followed suit, dedicating $12 million, $10 million and $10 million respectively. Major corporations outside the tech sector such as Target, Walmart, Home Depot and many others have also donated significant funds.
Obviously, these are well-capitalized entities– particularly the tech giants — with a vested interest in being on the right side of recent history. This is not to say their contributions are unwelcome or motivated solely by institutional self-interest.
Never-the-less, there are a number of other, somewhat less prominent companies whose dedication to social justice and the Black Lives Matter movement live not on the periphery of billion dollar budgets but at the creative core of their corporate missions and business plans.
The San Francisco-based apparel, shoe and accessory company has long demonstrated its social consciousness with a policy of “radical transparency” and commitment to sustainability, Now, Everlane has donated $75,000 to both the ACLU and The Equal Justice Initiative and published a shared document with information on getting involved with The BLM movement, participating in specific demonstrations and consuming relevant media such as films, TV shows and podcasts. Moreover, the document provides a list of city-categorized black-owned businesses.
On June 1st, the e-commerce website specializing in hand-crafted and vintage goods announced a donation of $500,000 each to the Equal Justice Initiative and the Borealis Philanthropy’s Black-led Movement Fund. The latter, a fund-raising arm of the Movement for Black Lives coalition of organizations advocating police reform, The Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change and others. In addition, Etsy has also published a catalog of Black-owned and operated Etsy shops.
Ben and Jerry’s
The Vermont-based ice cream icon Ben and Jerry’s has been at the forefront of the fight for progressive causes since its founding in 1978, so their whole-hearted and politically hands-on support of the BLM movement comes as no surprise. Not only have they actively lobbied for legislative initiatives such as House Resolution 40, which calls for the creation of a commission to study the impact of slavery and its legacy in contemporary culture, they have also called on the Department of Justice to end the willful neglect of its Civil Rights Division.
As with these and other companies, the L.A.-based liquor delivery service has made a one-time donation to myriad BLM-affiliated organizations such as the NAACP Legal Fund, Campaign Zero, Know Your Rights and others. Even more impressively, they have also pledged to “cover a round-up of all purchases and donate that amount equally and on a monthly basis to those organizations as long as the lights are on.” Ongoing, built-in commitments such as Saucey’s reflect a commitment to follow-through designed to make the BLM movement a permanent force.
Because they believe — and as history has proven — that education “is one piece of moving the ball forward” and integral to individual success as well as a functioning democracy and social justice, Nashville-based Bulk Bookstore has curated a special collection of ten important and influential books on racial equality. Offered at-cost to schools, community libraries, police departments, businesses and anyone interested in the BLM movement, BulkBooks’s Equality Library contains works by Angela Davis, Harvard Professor Cornell West, Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute Richard Rothstein as well as other prominent scholars and activists.
As protest marches the world over have shown, the BLM movement knows no boundaries. Ganni, the Copenhagen-based fashion house which calls itself a “Danish invasion in Technicolor,” has proved the point and honored its self-description with a $100,00 across the board donation to the ACLU, the NAACP and BLM. Perhaps even more importantly, they have recognized their error in a previous silence “born of fear for saying the wrong thing.” Taking their new-found activism a step further, Ganni has, like Bulk Bookstore, acknowledged the importance of education and expression by commissioning Black art and creative writing it will share on its platform.
That so many companies, and especially the mid-size organizations listed above, have recognized the importance of this moment by making change a part of their business may or may not mark a sea change in how America addresses its racial divide. But consumers can do more than merely hope. They can vote with their wallets, support these entities and be a part of a new chapter in the nation’s history.