[WSMDiscuss] From Cosmetics to NASCAR, Calls for Racial Justice Are Spreading (Amy Harmon, Apoorva Mandavilli, Sapna Maheshwari, and Jodi Kantor, The New York Times)

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Sun Jun 14 22:41:24 CEST 2020

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Viruses in movement…, The US in movement…, Resistance in movement…, Movements in movement…, Justice in movement…, Cultures in movement…

[The US is aflame, its people are afire…  and here, perhaps more for those who want to know more about what’s happening in the US, is an article that attempts to open up the details of how widely, and deeply, the current movement is reaching into and across mainstream US American society and culture; more than has ever happened before… :

“What feels different this time is that white folks are listening,” Dr. Davis said.

From Cosmetics to NASCAR, Calls for Racial Justice Are Spreading

What started as a renewed push for police reform has now touched seemingly every aspect of American life

Amy Harmon <https://www.nytimes.com/by/amy-harmon>, Apoorva Mandavilli <https://www.nytimes.com/by/apoorva-mandavilli>, Sapna Maheshwari <https://www.nytimes.com/by/sapna-maheshwari>, and Jodi Kantor <https://www.nytimes.com/by/jodi-kantor>, The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/us/george-floyd-racism-america.html?referringSource=articleShare <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/us/george-floyd-racism-america.html?referringSource=articleShare>

Protesters marching through Manhattan on Monday [June 8 2020].  Credit...Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

The reckonings have been swift and dizzying.

On Monday, it was the dictionary, with Merriam-Webster saying <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/us/merriam-webster-racism-definition.html> it was revising its entry on racism to illustrate the ways in which it “can be systemic.”

On Tuesday, the University of Washington removed the coach of its dance team <https://www.seattletimes.com/sports/uw-huskies/uw-removes-dance-coach-asks-black-members-to-rejoin-team-and-pledges-to-include-diversity-in-tryout-process/?utm_medium=notification&utm_source=pushly&utm_campaign=564808> after the only two black members of the group were cut. The two women were invited to return.

On Wednesday, after a black racecar driver called on NASCAR to ban the Confederate battle flag <https://www.nytimes.com/news-event/confederate-flags-monuments-statues> from its events, the organization did just that.

On Thursday, Nike joined a wave of American companies that have made Juneteenth, which celebrates the end of slavery in America, an official paid holiday <https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/06/12/business/ap-juneteenth-company-holiday.html>, “to better commemorate and celebrate Black history and culture.”

And on Friday, ABC Entertainment named the franchise’s first black man to star in “The Bachelor <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/arts/television/matt-james-black-bachelor.html>” in the show’s 18-year history, acceding to longstanding demands from fans.

In just under three weeks since the killing of George Floyd set off widespread protests, what started as a renewed demand for police reform has now roiled seemingly every sphere of American life, prompting institutions and individuals around the country to confront enduring forms of racial discrimination.

Many black Americans have been inundated <https://medium.com/the-faculty/white-academia-do-better-fa96cede1fc5> with testaments and queries from white friends <https://twitter.com/sarahcpr/status/1268231406351613952> about fighting racism. And anti-racist activists have watched with some amazement as powerful white leaders and corporations acknowledge concepts like “structural racism’’ and pledge to make sweeping changes in personal and institutional behavior.

But those who have been in the trenches for decades fighting racism in America wonder how lasting the soul searching will be.

The flood of corporate statements denouncing racism “feels like a series of mea culpas written by the press folks and run by the top black folks” inside each organization, said Dream Hampton, a writer and filmmaker <https://vimeo.com/307655948>. “Show us a picture of your C-suite, who is on your board. Then we can have a conversation about diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“Stop sending positive vibes,’’ begged Chad Sanders, a writer, in a recent New York Times Op-Ed <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/opinion/whites-anti-blackness-protests.html>, directing his white friends to instead help protect black protesters, donate to black politicians and funds fighting racial injustice, and urge others to do the same.

The protests have so far yielded some tangible changes in policing itself. On Friday, New York banned the use of chokeholds by law enforcement and repealed a law that kept police disciplinary records secret.

But their power is also cultural. A run on books about racism has reordered best-seller lists <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/05/books/antiracism-books-race-racism.html>, driving titles like “How to Be an Antiracist’’ and “White Fragility’’ to the top. And language about American racial dynamics that was once the purview of academia and activism appears to have gone mainstream.

In a video released June 5 <https://twitter.com/NFL/status/1269034074552721408> apologizing for the N.F.L.’s previous failure to support players who protested police violence, Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the league, condemned the “systematic oppression” of black people, a term used to convey that racism is embedded in the policies of public and private institutions. The Denver Board of Education, in voting to end its contract with the city police department <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/us/schools-police-resource-officers.html> for school resource officers, cited a desire to avoid the “perpetuation of the school-to-prison pipeline,” a reference to how school policies can lay the groundwork <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/04/us/politics/black-girls-school-racism.html> for the incarceration of young black Americans.

“One of the exhilarating things about this moment is that black people are articulating to the world that this isn’t just an issue of the state literally killing us, it’s also about psychic death,’’ said Jeremy O. Harris, a playwright whose “Slave Play <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/27/theater/slave-play-broadway-interviews.html>” addresses the failure of white liberals to admit their complicity in America’s ongoing racial inequities.

He added, “It’s exhilarating because for the first time, in a macro sense, people are saying names and showing up and showing receipts.’’

Sensing a rare, and perhaps fleeting, opportunity to be heard, many black Americans are sharing painful stories on social media about racism and mistreatment in the workplace, accounts that some said they were too scared to disclose before. They are using hashtags like #BlackInTheIvory <https://twitter.com/search?q=%23BlackintheIvory&src=typeahead_click> or #WeSeeYouWAT <https://twitter.com/search?q=%23WeSeeYouwat&src=typeahead_click>, referring to bias in academia and “White American Theater.”

The feeling of a dam breaking has drawn analogies to the fall and winter of 2017, when sexual abuse allegations against Harvey Weinstein triggered a deluge of disturbing accounts from women and provoked frank conversations in which friends, colleagues and neighbors confessed to one another: I’ve suffered in that manner as well. Or: I now realize I have wronged someone, and I’d like to do better.

Though racism is hardly a secret, “a huge awakening is just the awareness of people who don’t face the headwinds,” said Drew Dixon, a music producer, activist and subject of the documentary “On the Record <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/movies/on-the-record-russell-simmons-review.html>,” about her decision to come forward with rape allegations <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/arts/music/russell-simmons-rape.html> against the music producer Russell Simmons, which he has denied. “Many people had no idea what women deal with every single day, and I think many non-black people had no idea what black people deal with every day.”

A shift in the making

While the outpouring may seem sudden, there have been signs that perceptions on race were already in flux.

Opinion polls over the last decade have shown a self-reported turn by Democrats toward a more sympathetic view of black Americans, with more attributing disparities in areas like income and education to discrimination rather than personal failure. By 2018, white liberals said they felt more positively about blacks, Latinos and Asians than they did about whites.

The reason for the shift is unclear — and those attitudes have so far not translated into desegregated schools or neighborhoods — but may help explain the cascade of responses to Mr. Floyd’s killing.

The outpouring is also related to the horrific nature of Mr. Floyd’s death — a white police officer kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes — captured in a stark video at a moment of rising national frustration with the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown.

The protests still surging through the streets of America’s cities <https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/06/13/us/george-floyd-protests-cities-photos.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage>, said the civil rights movement scholar Aldon Morris, are “unprecedented in terms of the high levels of white participation in a movement targeting black oppression and grievances.”

Younger Americans are also much more racially diverse than earlier generations. They tend to have different views on race. And their imprint on society is only growing.

Brands trying to appeal to younger consumers have in recent years increasingly proclaimed their belief in equality and justice. Two years ago, Nike featured in a major ad campaign the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who knelt during the national anthem to protest racism. The tagline for MAC, the cosmetics company, is “All Ages, All Races, All Genders.”

In the wake of the Floyd protests, everyone from Wall Street C.E.O.s <https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/01/wall-street-ceos-speak-out-about-george-floyd-and-protests-rocking-us-cities.html> and the sportswear giant Adidas <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/business/adidas-black-employees-discrimination.html?searchResultPosition=1> to the fruit snack Gushers <https://www.themarysue.com/gushers-finally-weighs-in-on-black-lives-matter/> and a company that sells stun guns <https://www.axon.com/news/axon-statement-on-the-death-of-george-floyd> put out statements of support of diversity, flooding Instagram with vague messages.

Colin Kaepernick (center) and teammates kneeled during the national anthem before an N.F.L. game in Santa Clara, Calif., in 2016.  Credit...Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

These prompted cries of hypocrisy <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/06/business/corporate-america-has-failed-black-america.html?searchResultPosition=1> from those who said the companies don’t practice the values they’re espousing.

At several companies, what employees saw as an inadequate response to Mr. Floyd’s death seemed to serve as a catalyst for a long-simmering contention over questions of racial equity. At Adidas, dozens of employees stopped working to attend daily protests outside the company’s North American headquarters in Portland, Ore.

The tumult has been especially fraught at Estée Lauder, the beauty giant, stemming from the political donations of Ronald S. Lauder, a 76-year-old board member and a son of the company’s founders. He has also been a prominent supporter of President Trump.

On May 29, employees at Estée Lauder, like those in much of the rest of corporate America, began receiving emails from the company’s leadership addressing racial discrimination.

There was “considerable pain” in black communities, one missive noted. According to copies of the internal communications obtained by The New York Times, the company, whose vast portfolio includes Clinique, MAC, Bobbi Brown, La Mer and Aveda, encouraged employees to pause working on June 2 in honor of “Blackout Tuesday.”

At a video meeting on June 4 among an internal group called NOBLE, or Network of Black Leaders and Executives, company leaders said Estée Lauder was donating $1 million to support racial and social justice organizations. But employees pinpointed Mr. Lauder’s political donations to Mr. Trump as being in conflict with the company’s stance on race. The president has tweeted conspiracy theories <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/nyregion/who-is-martin-gugino-buffalo-police.html> about injured protesters, described demonstrators as “THUGS <https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1266231100780744704?s=20>,” and praised most law enforcement officers <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/08/us/politics/defund-police-trump.html> as “great people.”

Employees left dissatisfied. Later that night, a petition appeared on Change.org.

The company’s donation did “not match, or exceed Ronald Lauder’s personal donations in support of state-sanctioned violence,” organizers of the petition, which has amassed more than 6,000 signatures, wrote. “Ronald Lauder’s involvement with the Estée Lauder Companies is damaging to our corporate values, our relationship with the Black community, our relationship with this company’s Black employees, and this company’s legacy.”

In his first public comment on the situation, Mr. Lauder told The Times in a statement Friday that he had spent decades “fighting anti-Semitism, hate and bigotry in all its forms in New York and around the world as president of the World Jewish Congress.”

“As a country, we must recommit ourselves to the fight against anti-Semitism and racism,” he said. “In this urgent moment of change, I am expanding the scope of my anti-Semitism campaign to include causes for racial justice, especially in the Black community, as well as other forms of dangerous ethnic and religious intolerance around the world.”

On Monday, Estée Lauder said it would donate $5 million in coming weeks to “support racial and social justice and to continue to support greater access to education,” and donate an additional $5 million over the following two years.

Other companies have also pledged money. On Thursday alone, PayPal, Apple and YouTube collectively pledged $730 million to racial justice and equity efforts.

Jobs on the line

As companies face restive employees, pressure has also grown to remove those who have made offensive statements. Others have had to apologize publicly. Adam Rapoport <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/08/dining/bon-appetit-adam-rapoport.html> resigned as editor in chief of the magazine Bon Appétit on Monday after a 2004 photo showing him in an offensive costume resurfaced on social media.

And Greg Glassman, the founder and chief executive of CrossFit, stepped down <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/style/crossfit-gyms-founder-protests.html> on Tuesday following comments about race and racism on a Zoom call to gym owners.

“We’re not mourning for George Floyd, I don’t think me or any of my staff are,” said Mr. Glassman on the Zoom call, according to a recording of the call provided to The Times.

“Can you tell me why I should mourn for him?” he said. “Other than it’s the ‘white’ thing to do. I get that pressure, but give me another reason.”

NBCUniversal, a division of Comcast that includes the NBC broadcast network and cable channels like Bravo, has encountered fires on multiple fronts as the reckoning has swept the country.

For NBC, the problems started the morning after Mr. Floyd’s death, when Jimmy Fallon found himself under attack on Twitter for performing in blackface on “Saturday Night Live” in 2000. A video of the sketch had resurfaced online <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPau1pLm3jQ>. Mr. Fallon, who has been an NBC star for 22 years, first at “SNL” and more recently leading the “Tonight” show, issued a written apology <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/26/us/jimmy-fallon-chris-rock-blackface.html> that afternoon. He apologized at length <https://deadline.com/2020/06/jimmy-fallon-emotional-apology-snl-blackface-skit-tonight-show-return-naacp-derrick-johnson-cnn-don-lemon-saturday-night-live-video-1202949008/> on camera the following day.

On June 2, a writer was fired <https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/dick-wolf-craig-gore-fired-law-and-order-spinoff-controversial-facebook-posts-1234623190/> from an upcoming NBC series, “Law & Order: Organized Crime,” after posting photos of himself on Facebook holding a weapon and threatening to “light up” looters.

Then came an explosion from NBCUniversal’s cable division. The hit reality series “Vanderpump Rules,” an anchor tenant on Bravo since 2013, fired four cast members <https://www.today.com/popculture/andy-cohen-absolutely-supports-decision-fire-vanderpump-rules-stars-t183908> for past racist behavior. Some of the incidents were already known. Others were disclosed on Instagram after Mr. Floyd’s death.

NBC, a division of Comcast, has encountered fires on multiple fronts as the reckoning on race and police practices has swept the country.  Credit...Hannah Yoon for The New York Times

On June 8, Brian Roberts, Comcast’s chief executive, said in a memo to employees that the company would give $75 million to social justice organizations, along with $25 million worth of advertising inventory, including on Sky, its pay-television unit in Britain.

“We know that Comcast alone can’t remedy this complex issue,” Mr. Roberts wrote. “But you have my commitment that our company will try to play an integral role in driving lasting reform.”

A ‘boiling point’

Late last Saturday night, two women who study black health and communication were talking to each other, for what seemed like the thousandth time, about the racism they have encountered in their careers.

The killings of Breonna Taylor <https://www.nytimes.com/article/breonna-taylor-police.html>, George Floyd and too many others had brought them to a “boiling point,” recalled one of the women, Joy Melody Woods, a graduate student at Moody College of Communication. But the national conversation was still focused primarily on police brutality.

“That’s not the only system that perpetuates white supremacy,” Ms. Woods said. “There are other systems, and academia is one of those.”

Ms. Woods called on black scholars to begin sharing their experiences using the hashtag #BlackInTheIvory, which her friend Shardé M. Davis, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut, had just coined.

Joy Melody Woods, MA @smileitsjoy
Hey folks, so i want my Black scholars if they’re comfortable to share their experience with higher ed institutions #BlackIntheIvory <https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackIntheIvory?src=hash> 
I’ve started sharing. On Instagram. Shout out to @DrShardeDavis <https://twitter.com/DrShardeDavis> for the idea.

108 <https://twitter.com/intent/like?tweet_id=1269450720945856514>
10:06 PM - Jun 6, 2020 <https://twitter.com/smileitsjoy/status/1269450720945856514>
Twitter Ads info and privacy <https://support.twitter.com/articles/20175256> 
56 people are talking about this

The women went to sleep that night, not knowing they had opened the floodgates. The hashtag was trending by Sunday night, and as of Thursday evening had collected nearly 90,000 tweets.

The stories of exclusion, humiliation and hostility were all too familiar. But the difference was that they had mostly been shared behind closed doors. In the past, nonblack colleagues could be sympathetic but were more often dismissive or worse, sometimes labeling a black colleague as “difficult.”

The viral video prompted Ms. McGee and others to organize #BlackBirdersWeek. Jeffrey Ward, a co-organizer and well-known birder <https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/28/movies/birding-people-of-color-rolling-stone.html>, said he always keeps his binoculars visible to reassure people who act fearful when they see him. After two police officers followed and questioned him two years ago at Crotona Park in the Bronx, he recalled, he told some white friends. They were sympathetic then, but seem to better grasp the breadth and gravity of systemic racism now, he said.

“They reached out to me and said, ‘We didn’t understand it was this serious. We apologize for not listening to you before.’”

Dr. Prescod-Weinstein was one of several researchers who called for a strike on Wednesday to protest racism in science <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/10/science/science-diversity-racism-protests.html>. Nearly 6,000 scientists, professional societies and institutions pledged to join.

But she also noted that academic institutions are unrelentingly hierarchical and resistant to change.

As a postdoctoral fellow at M.I.T., Dr. Prescod-Weinstein was the only black physicist with a Ph.D. in a department of about 100. Students of color sought her out for advice and mentoring, she said — unpaid labor that she was never recognized or compensated for — and they felt the pressure of having to represent their entire race.

“That kind of pressure is extraordinary,” she said.

Inequity in universities manifests at multiple levels. Black academics are disproportionately hired to positions with weaker long-term prospects. They receive fewer grants, and their papers are cited less often.

Changing these systems will take “an incredible amount of energy at the right pressure points in the system,” said Dr. Kafui Dzirasa, a psychiatrist at Duke University.

For any system — say, applying for grants from the National Institutes of Health — making things more equitable would come at a cost, either to the system or to nonblack applicants. “And that’s the cost that it’s unclear if the system is ready to take on,” Dr. Dzirasa said.

Dr. Davis was more blunt.

“We’ve received nothing but empty platitudes and empty promises, and the wound just scabs right back up,” she said. “We’re walking around in institutions with a whole bunch of Band-Aids and scabbed-over wounds. Enough, enough.”

Brooks Barnes contributed reporting. Susan Beachy contributed research.


Jai Sen

Independent researcher, editor; Senior Fellow at the School of International Development and Globalisation Studies at the University of Ottawa

jai.sen at cacim.net <mailto:jai.sen at cacim.net>
Now based in New Delhi, India (+91-98189 11325) and in Ottawa, Canada, on unceded and unsurrendered Anishinaabe territory (+1-613-282 2900) 

CURRENT / RECENT publications :

Jai Sen, ed, 2018a – The Movements of Movements, Part 2 : Rethinking Our Dance. Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
Jai Sen, ed, 2018b – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ? (Indian edition). New Delhi : AuthorsUpfront, in collaboration with OpenWord and PM Press.  Hard copy available at MOM1AmazonIN <https://www.amazon.in/dp/9387280101/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1522884070&sr=8-2&keywords=movements+of+movements+jai+sen>, MOM1Flipkart <https://www.flipkart.com/the-movements-of-movements/p/itmf3zg7h79ecpgj?pid=9789387280106&lid=LSTBOK9789387280106NBA1CH&marketplace=FLIPKART&srno=s_1_1&otracker=search&fm=SEARCH&iid=ff35b702-e6a8-4423-b014-16c84f6f0092.9789387280106.SEARCH&ppt=Search%20Page>, and MOM1AUpFront <http://www.authorsupfront.com/movements.htm>
Jai Sen, ed, 2017 – The Movements of Movements, Part 1 : What Makes Us Move ?.  New Delhi : OpenWord and Oakland, CA : PM Press.  Ebook and hard copy available at PM Press <http://www.pmpress.org/>
SUBSCRIBE TO World Social Movement Discuss, an open, unmoderated, and self-organising forum on social and political movement at any level (local, national, regional, and global).  To subscribe, simply send an empty email to wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net <mailto:wsm-discuss-subscribe at lists.openspaceforum.net>
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <https://lists.openspaceforum.net/pipermail/wsm-discuss/attachments/20200614/96c37991/attachment.htm>

More information about the WSM-Discuss mailing list