From sport to entertainment, #BlackLivesMatter shakes up US society

·4 min read

New York (AFP) - Massive protests against racism sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are having a ripple effect across American society, with multiple sectors facing a reckoning over their treatment of minorities.

From business to sport and media to education, AFP takes a look at the companies, organizations and personalities that are standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement against racial injustice.

- Sport leads the way -

Basketball star LeBron James was one of the first to condemn Floyd's death at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25.

He later announced that he planned to found a charitable organization that aims to help black Americans vote in the presidential election on November 3.

Fellow NBA legend Michael Jordan said that he would donate $100 million to groups fighting for racial equality and social justice.

NFL stars Tom Brady, Dak Prescott and Drew Brees and NBA coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich were among more than 1,400 people from America's largest sports leagues who submitted a letter to US lawmakers demanding an end to police immunity.

In one of the biggest shakeups, NFL boss Roger Goodell admitted the league had been wrong to silence peaceful player protests.

He later encouraged teams to sign quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has been exiled from the league for three years for kneeling during the American national anthem before games.

Another massive moment was NASCAR banning the display of the Confederate flag, a common sight at circuits in the sport's southern US heartland.

And Adidas announced that 30 percent of all its new hires in the US would be black or Latino.

- Anna Wintour challenged -

The demonstrations led to questions, debates and resignations in numerous editorial offices, which are largely white.

After online fury and intense criticism from many New York Times staffers, the paper's editorial page head quit after publishing an op-ed by a US senator who urged military force against protesters nationwide.

The Philadelphia Inquirer's editor-in-chief stepped down after the paper published the headline "Buildings Matter too," seemingly equating vandalism with police killings of African Americans.

Conde Nast, which publishes Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker among other titles, was caught up in the maelstrom after the editor of Bon Appetit resigned over accusations he fueled a climate of racism at the magazine.

Vogue's Anna Wintour apologized for not having done enough to promote black voices during her long tenure and for "publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant" amid speculation she might have to stand down.

- Entertainment: 'Gone with the Wind' goes -

Major streaming platforms like Amazon and Netflix have highlighted works of black artists on their home page.

New platform HBO Max removed "Gone with the Wind," a 1939 multiple-Oscar winning film considered full of racial prejudice, from its back catalogue of old movies. It will return soon with an explainer about the film's complicated legacy.

Director Ava DuVernay, known for her anti-racist films, was elected to the Academy Awards' Board of Governors, bringing the number of people of color in the board to 12 out of 54.

The Academy said it was "committed to progress," on racial issues.

In music, record labels have dropped the label "urban music," which has been affixed to black artists over the years whether rap, hip hop or R&B.

Country group Lady Antebellum changed their name to Lady A. The term "antebellum" refers to the pre-Civil War period in the slave-holding American South.

And in books, two on racism and how to combat it: "How to Be an Antiracist" by Ibram X. Kendi and "White fragility" by Robin DiAngelo are among Amazon's bestsellers.

- Education: #ShutDownAcademia -

Despite being closed for weeks because of the coronavirus pandemic, many schools and universities have been caught up in the debate.

Former students of the elite New York girl's school Brearley have been sharing their experiences of discrimination on the Instagram account @BlackatBrearley.

And in universities, a June 10 strike under the hashtag #ShutDownAcademia, was widely followed, notably at prestigious MIT and Harvard.

"There is a consensus about the acknowledgement that African Americans face discriminations in society that need to be addressed," said Andra Gillespie, director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University.

"We won't know for months or years whether or not the statements that have been made in the last three weeks are empty platitudes or whether they were the catalysts of meaningful change," she added.