By: Kedran Whitten and Cindy Baker, Brand825 Co-Founders
We’ve been here before.
The video depicting the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer is shocking, nauseating and obviously unjust. But it’s certainly not the first time a black man was murdered on camera by an officer of the law.
But as protests continue in cities across this country and around the world, the awareness surrounding Mr. Floyd’s death endures and the consciousness persists ... for now. But as we’ve seen so many times before with similar tragedies in the black community, justice is slow to come, if at all. Just ask the families of Philando Castile, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, Botham Jean, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, David McAtee, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade … the list goes on and on, unfortunately.
We’ve been here before, and things have to change. It’s up to each and every one of us.
Active participation and support are the only real ways to ensure change, because change doesn’t magically happen on its own. And if there were ever a time to jump headfirst into the conversation and use your brand as an agent for change, this is it. And we’re seeing that from many brands across a variety of industries.
Brooklinen issued a post on Instagram supporting Black Lives Matter, saying, “As a company, we’re working on doing more, finding the right partner(s) to donate to as the needs of this movement change, and real ways to put our company values of equality into a more regular practice.”
Lululemon, a brand who has had its own share of missteps in the past, released a compelling statement and a $100,000 donation to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, saying “…we know that to be a stand against inequity and injustice of any kind, we all need to do so much more. You have our commitment we will.”
In a solemn and powerful video (and alternate take on its ubiquitous tagline), Nike urged followers “don’t do it.” Don’t turn your back on racism, don’t accept innocent lives being taken from us, etc. Nike is no stranger to sharing socially conscious videos, including one with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick encouraging us to “believe in something, even if it means sacrificing everything.”
But you don’t have to be a giant brand to join the conversation and make a difference. Every voice counts, and every voice is needed right now. The awareness evaporates into indifference once we stop talking, and doing.
In addition to messaging, here are several things your brand can do right now that that will make a huge difference. Think about hiring more minorities. One way to do that is to create an internship program that gives minority students inroads to your company. You can also establish diversity and inclusion teams to make sure other cultures have a chance to be represented in your company’s culture. Supporting minority-owned brands, and the communities in which they operate, is also a great thing to do.
If real change is going to happen for the black community, for the people who have faced injustice long before the establishment of the United States of America, brands have to speak up. People have to speak up. The work will not be done until it is no longer necessary for brands to state—unequivocally—that black lives matter. It should just be a given.
Because we’ve been here before, and it has to stop.