Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez set the record straight for wealthy corporations on Wednesday, rejecting what she called “bland statements” of support for the Black Lives Matter movement and calling on the companies to take concrete action to further racial justice.
The New York Democrat’s first target was the Washington Redskins, which posted a black square in support of #BlackOutTuesday. The social media campaign was meant to urge corporations and non-black users to pause their posting of self-promotional, marketing, or personal content and amplify black voices and racial justice efforts instead.
Ocasio-Cortez promptly told the team that to support the movement, the first step it should take is to listen to Indigenous people’s decades-long demand to change its name.
“This moment calls for transformation,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Wednesday. “Your statement should include your organization’s INTERNAL commitments to change, particularly if you’ve been called on it before… Give people change.”
The NFL also faced harsh criticism for its statement claiming the nationwide protests in response to the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other examples of injustice “reflect the pain, anger, and frustration that so many of us feel.”
“Save the bullshit,” tweeted Houston Texans player Kenny Stills in response.
The NFL and its owners were accused of blacklisting former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he knelt during the national anthem at his football games to peacefully protest police brutality and racial injustice.
On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez called out a number of companies which publicly expressed support for the protests in the past week but sell products that aid racial discrimination, tolerate racism on their platforms, and fail to support black families and businesses.
Other advocates joined the congresswoman in pointing out the hypocrisy of corporations which have been complicit in mass incarceration, wealth inequality, and other injustices.
In his newsletter, Popular Information, journalist Judd Legum wrote that many of the corporations that have expressed solidarity in recent days have also donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to lawmakers with “F” ratings from the NAACP.
“In this election cycle, Citigroup has donated to 74 members of Congress that were rated “F” by the NAACP,” wrote Legum. “That means they voted with the NAACP 59% of the time or less. Most of the members who received Citigroup cash scored far lower, and many were in the single digits.”
“Citigroup appears to believe that aligning itself with the Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing fight for civil rights is good for its brand,” he added. “But its political spending shows that it quietly bankrolls politicians who consistently vote to undermine, not protect, civil rights.”
Legum found similar trends in the political spending of Google and Amazon.
“If you want to understand a corporation’s values, ignore its tweets, and pay attention to its FEC filings,” Legum wrote.