Harvest of Hope

The Unconventional Social Unconventional Social Changes Resulting From the Black Lives Matter Movement Movement NO

S tatues were taken down, at least 13 cities and states have banned the use of chokehold restraints among officers and police budgets are under review. Black Lives Matter activists and demonstrators are arguably the most prominent drivers behind these decisions, as they have demanded consistent attention remains on these cases until change results. While these efforts have brought federal and state decisions toward racial justice, they have also led to a number of private companies and businesses incorporating measures for racial equality into their practices. In many ways, these changes were in areas outside the movement’s direct, intentional efforts against racism and police brutality. Throughout 2020, 47 states announced they would recognize Juneteenth as an annual state holiday. The day celebrated among Black people as the official end to slavery would also become a paid holiday for many companies. As protests calling for justice for George Floyd and Breonna Taylor continued, the Associated Press (AP) marked suggested changes to the word “Black” in its Stylebook. The guide publishes standard rules for journalistic writing and announced the word should be capitalized to follow its standards of writing. The agency said “white” should remain uncapitalized. It stated white people generally have “much less shared history and culture” and are not discriminated against because of their skin color. While the AP’s decision seems to be revolutionary since itaffects publications and news sources across the country, the agency isn’t the first to make the shift. National media outlets and publications including BuzzFeed, Business Insider and Huffington Post had previously made the switch. They’re the latest to join a line of Black publications that have been capitalizing the word for decades. Using the uppercase letter brings mindful attention to the reason for the capitalization, even if a reader is casually browsing through the copy.

Ebony Magazine, a monthly publication geared toward African Americans, has been using the capitalized version since before the 1970s. In the film and entertainment industry, some companies revisited the ethics of their productions. HBO Max temporarily removed “Gone with the Wind” from its streaming options. When the film later returned to the platform, there was an introduction preceding it informing viewers of its controversial nature and that it could be an “uncomfortable and even painful” experience for some viewers. “Little Britain,” a British sketch comedy series, was also removed from Netflix and other international streaming platforms due to its derogatory depictions of people of color. As protests stirred around police brutality, the reality documentary series “COPS” was also removed from TV listings. Other companies, like PepsiCo, the parent company of Quaker Oats, made the decision to move forward in rebranding some of their familiar products. The food and beverage corporation would remove the face of a smiling Aunt Jemima that appeared on syrup bottles in grocery stores across the country for 130 years. The picture was said to be a version of slavery- time images that were later represented in minstrel shows. Brands like Uncle Ben’s and Mrs. Butterworth’s followed suit and redesigned their product logos and opted for alternative names that were less suggestive of segregated histories. While brand redesigns and grammatical style amendments were notable changes among these companies, these revisions not only depict an optimistic movement toward positive and racially conscious efforts. They also represent the meaning of years of struggle and efforts that led to the need to call for these changes.


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