How businesses around U.S. are responding to Black Lives Matter movement

BY ZACHARY HORNER, News + Record Staff
Posted 6/19/20

The death by police of Minnesota man George Floyd — coupled with the preceding deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — have led to businesses around the United States rethinking some …

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How businesses around U.S. are responding to Black Lives Matter movement

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Posted

The death by police of Minnesota man George Floyd — coupled with the preceding deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — have led to businesses around the United States rethinking some things.

After initially telling employees that it could not wear “Black Lives Matter” clothing while on the clock, Starbucks changed its mind. The New York Post reported Friday that employees could wear pins, T-shirts or any other apparel. It was a reversal from a decision a week before when the company said wearing those items would violate company policy. Executives told employees in a letter that Starbucks was in the process of making its own Black Lives Matter shirts for staffers.

“Until these arrive, we’ve heard you want to show your support, so just be you,” Starbucks executives Roz Brewer, Rossann Williams and Zing Shaw said in a letter to employees, according to the Post. “Wear your BLM pin or T-shirt. We are so proud of your passionate support of our common humanity.”

The movement has accelerated in the sports world. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell issued a rare apology, saying the league got it wrong on how it has treated racial justice efforts in recent years. Many players have said they’ll be taking a knee for the National Anthem whenever the season restarts.

In the NBA, which is still working out the details for its return, several players have begun talking about sitting out the rest of the season to work on other issues. One “widely respected NBA player” told ESPN, according to a June 12 article, that there’s a concern that “once we start playing basketball again, the news will turn from systemic racism to who did what in the game last night.”

NASCAR, which has long had a foothold in the South, announced last week it would be banning all Confederate flags at racetracks. A statement from the organization said “the presence of the Confederate flag...runs contrary to our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all fans, our competitors and our industry.” The move happened two days after driver Bubba Wallace, the lone black driver in NASCAR’s top racing circuit, called for the move and was supported by other drivers like two-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin.

Coffee and pro sports are big business these days. In 2019, Starbucks had $26.5 billion in revenue, the NFL garnered $8.1 billion and the NBA around $8 billion. NASCAR numbers were a bit harder to track down, but the organization’s TV revenue from 2008-2018 was $6.6 billion.

As to business in general, the head of the Dallas Federal Reserve said on Sunday that not addressing the underlying issues of systemic racism and high unemployment levels among minorities could have a negative financial impact.

“A more inclusive economy where everyone has an opportunity will mean faster workforce growth, faster productivity growth and will grow faster,” Kaplan said on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” according to Reuters. “It’s in the interest of the U.S. The fastest-growing demographic groups in this country are blacks and Hispanics. If they don’t participate equally, then we’re going to grow more slowly.”

How that affects Chatham County — where blacks and Hispanics make up more than 24 percent of the population combined — remains to be seen.

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