The recent Blackout Tuesday initiative represents one way that top industry leaders have shown solidarity in response to how George Floyd was killed while in police custody. But the idea behind the initiative is one that should continue long after Instagram posts featuring the black square and accompanying hashtag have been made. That is, the initiative called for “an urgent step of action to provoke accountability and change.” Considering this end goal, we’re sharing examples of industry giants and top agencies that are using their resources and reach to take actionable steps toward change that will continue past one day’s display of solidarity. Take a look and then keep reading for ways you also can support members of the Black community and contribute to the fight against systematic racism and oppression.
Industry Giants Taking Actionable Steps
Bad Robot Productions recently announced via an Instagram post that with The Katie McGrath and JJ Abrams Family Foundation, it will give during the next five years $10 million to organizations that are “committed to anti-racist agendas.” In the same post, the company asserted that “corporate and private philanthropy can never achieve the impact needed to address these systematic inequities, but companies and individuals who are able must do what we can until our political leaders lead.” The first organizations to receive initial donations of $200,000 were also announced and include: The Black Futures Lab, Black Lives Matter LA, the Community Coalition, the Know Your Rights Camp, and the Equal Justice Initiative. The latter was founded by Bryan Stevenson, the civil rights attorney whose real-life story inspired the 2019 drama Just Mercy. The Warner Bros. film stars Michael B. Jordan as Stevenson and Jamie Foxx as his client Walter McMillian, a wrongfully-convicted death-row inmate. Warner Bros. announced in a recent statement that the film would be made available for free on digital platforms during the month of June as an educational resource for “those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society.”
Top Agencies Taking Actionable Steps
A number of top agencies participated in #BlackoutTuesday, such as UTA, ICM Partners, and CAA. The Gersh Agency and APA, in particular, took their commitment to showing solidarity one step further, though. Along with Bob and David Gersh’s pledge to match Gersh staff donations to Black Lives Matter causes, they also committed to being more proactive about working with studios and production companies to develop projects about underrepresented people. And APA took the action of holding a Zoom webinar entitled “A Conversation for Action” for its staff and clients, as well as top industry executives, that centered on ways to reach real and meaningful change. One of the speakers was Isaac Wright Jr., the executive producer of For Life, a series based on his own story of being falsely accused and convicted of crimes that landed him in prison with a life sentence.
Ways You Can Take Actionable Steps
If you’re unsure of how to start taking action against racial injustice, you can begin by donating to worthy causes. You can support the Floyd family, for example, by contributing to The George Floyd Memorial Fund. Other great options for helping fund racial justice include the Minnesota Freedom Fund, Black Visions Collective, Reclaim the Block, Campaign Zero, and Unicorn Riot. Another vital step towards change involves educating yourself. If you’re not a member of the Black community, conduct research to gain a better understanding of the racism and oppression that that community has had to and continues to face. You can look to films like Just Mercy and series such as When They See Us that portray real stories of systematic injustice. Ava DuVernay is even providing a learning companion for the latter as a part of ARRAY 101, her new education initiative for social justice. According to the initiative’s site, the resource is for “students, teachers, and everyone who wants to learn.”
In his recent fireside chat, SAG-AFTRA Foundation president Courtney B. Vance emphasized the importance of unity in calling for change. He quoted Martin Luther King Jr. with, “We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. And whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” Vance also included a verse from poet John Donne that King also quoted, saying, “Any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.” The SAG-AFTRA Foundation president ended his fireside chat with his own message for viewers: “I believe in our ability as a society to be better, [to] do better. And I believe in you and your abilities, efforts, and perseverance to help us get there,” said Vance. So no matter if you’re a SAG-AFTRA actor or another type of industry member, you can take to heart these words from past and present leaders. Using the example of actions that big industry names and top agencies are taking to affect change, you can use your own resources to contribute to the fight against systematic racism in America.