In the spirit of protestors around the world, actors, artists and activists are making a list of demands to combat anit-Blackness in Hollywood. The organization known as BLD PWR, which was founded by “Insecure” actor Kendrick Sampson, released their demands as part of a Hollywood 4 Black Lives campaign, and everyone from Queen Latifah to Viola Davis has signed on.
“The way that Hollywood and mainstream media have contributed to the criminalization of Black people, the misrepresentation of the legal system, and the glorification of police corruption and violence have had dire consequences on Black lives,” reads the Hollywood 4 Black Lives letter. “This includes stories that demonize our mental health as violent. People use these stories to justify the killings of Black people like Deborah Danner, who was murdered by NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry. It also includes the perpetuation of transphobic stories that people use to justify the murder of Tony McDade in Florida, Nina Pop in Missouri, Dominique Fells, in Philadelphia, and Riah Milton in Ohio. We must end the exaltation of officers and agents that are brutal and act outside of the law as heroes. These portrayals encourage cops like Derek Chauvin, the murderer of George Floyd.”
Along with critiques of Black portrayal in T.V. and movies, Hollywood 4 Black Lives also called out the systematic limitation on Black people. “Our agencies, which often serve as industry gatekeepers, don’t recruit, retain or support Black agents,” reads the letter. “Our unions don’t consider or defend our specific, intersectional struggles. Unions are even worse for our below-the-line crew, especially for Black women.”
The group then went on to advocate a list of demands including divesting from police by removing them from sets and instead using “private unionized security officers from SEIU-USWW – if they drop their ties with police unions.”
H4BL also demanded that every major studio have multiple senior level executives, and “every agency and management company should have Black partners and board members and provide substantial support for its Black agents and managers [cisgender and trans].”
To invest in anti-racist content, H4BL demanded that Hollywood “Invest in developing, producing and distributing anti-racist content that humanizes and advances nuanced portrayals of Black people.” They also called for “culturally competent social justice consultants to inform projects from development through distribution to help identify conscious and unconscious bias and prevent racist, anti-Black LGBTQIA+ and other culturally insensitive portrayals of Black people.”
Finally, H4BL demanded community investment from Hollywood, including, investing “in and contract with Black-owned and Black-led businesses (catering, PR etc), especially for services in sectors that have traditionally excluded Black people.”
Their letter was signed by key racial justice organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Color of Change along with over 300 Black artists, storytellers, writers, actors and more. Major stars like Tiffany Haddish, Angela Bassett and Octavia Spencer signed onto the letter, along with behind-the-scenes creatives like Lena Waithe, Mara Brock Akil and Yvette Lee Bowser.
You can check out the full letter here.
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