A Call To Action For Equality

As companies are beginning to take action and address the inequalities that many black Americans face even in a post civil rights era, they release statements and make donations to major organizations leading the fight. Many of the donations made by companies toward aiding the black community are going to the NAACP, The Black Lives Matter Movement, and other major organizations fighting for justice. Amazon donated a total of 10 million dollars to 11 different organizations in an effort to show their support for the black community in the wake of George Floyd’s murder. Similarly, Nike has done their part in running a campaign in which they  urge users to acknowledge their own privilege instead of discrediting the BLM movement as well as making a sizable donation to local and national charities. Major beauty brand, Glossier, has also pledged $500,000 to a variety of organizations fighting against racial injustice as well as an additional $500,000 to supporting smaller black-owned beauty businesses. 

Centralized and narrow efforts, especially from companies familiar with the industry and the limitations for Black people and minorities in these fields, are more effective in combating inequalities. Contributions must be thoughtful and localize specific problems instead of simply just ‘racism” and “discrimination”, they must acknowledge the presence of injustices  everywhere and that includes their own industry. The importance of local efforts is that they are specific and tackle the intricacies of racism and its prevalence in everyday life. 

Glossier’s effort to support black-owned beauty businesses acknowledges the lack of representation in the makeup industry in all of its forms. First of all, most current beauty trends are currently based on styles taken from black culture. The new wave of girls wearing extra glossy lips, bright shades of eyeshadow, and shimmery cheekbones are all based on trends from the black community. Then there’s the lack of inclusivity when it comes to foundation shades as they are generally not geared toward black consumers. Foundation shades have ranges of fairer tones and limited selections for darker skin tones. Similarly, their donation to support black businesses means they’re actively supporting black businesses that are more likely to face loan discrimination when approaching banks. Less than 47% of financing applications submitted by Black Americans are approved, meaning that they are half as likely to even get the chance to enter the industry all together. Glossier’s response was appropriate because it both acknowledges the global issue of black inequality, but also in their own field, and it takes action toward relieving both. 

Nike also announced a $40 million commitment over the next four years to support the Black community in the U.S. on behalf of the NIKE, Jordan and Converse brands collectively. Nike stated that during this past year, it stepped up its own efforts and measures of accountability in the areas of diversity, inclusion and belonging. In 2016 Nike said that in fiscal year 2014/2015 for the first time ever, the percentage of Nike employees who identify as non-white in the U.S. rose above 50% with 21% identifying as black. Nike has also historically supported athlete Colin Kaepernick’s decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of the United State’s discriminatory practices. Nike’s decision to stand alongside Kaepernick and even make a sizable donation to the black community is significant because of the backlash that many black athletes risk if they chose to take political stances. Nike was boycotted by many after openly supporting Kaepernick and Kaepernick himself lost sponsorships. The recognition of this protest and support for what Kaepernick was speaking of gave the Black Lives Matter movement more validity and simultaneously gave black athletes more of a voice when using their large platforms. Nike’s current actions reflect the same solidarity and recognition of the movement as they continuously support black voices and continue to actively employ more diversity than other leading brands. 

The pressure put on companies and brands to address global race inequality has raised a lot of questions regarding where efforts should be made. Many brands are donating directly to the Black Lives Matter movement as well as different major bail funds, but few are acknowledging the inequalities that exist within their own communities and industry. While those efforts are well-intentioned, they neglect the presence of inequality everywhere and shift the blame rather than participate in the global effort toward equality. 

For more information about SwayBrand, contact Cat Munoz at cat@swaybrand.com