Reed Hastings, Wife Donating $120 Million to Black Institutions

Netflix co-founder/CEO Reed Hastings and his wife, Patty Quillin, are donating $120 million to educational institutions targeting students of color. The contributions include $40 million each to the United Negro College Fund and private colleges Spelman and Morehouse in Atlanta. Hastings disclosed the donations in an interview this week with CNBC.

“There are many good places to donate, but the [historically black colleges and universities] are 150 years old, incredibly resilient, producing an amazing number of black graduates,” Hastings said.

The by-mail disc rental/SVOD pioneer said he and his wife were moved by the George Floyd death by Minneapolis police, ongoing societal racism as well as the disproportionate suffering in the black community as a result of the coronavirus.

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“The amount of tragedy really did get us to focus and say, ‘let’s do something now that will be supportive of these great institutions and give people some sense of hope,’” Hastings said. “This moment is not the first time that racism has reared its, you know, terribly ugly head. We want to help draw attention to the [historically black colleges and universities], to them being part of the solution for America, and for black children to aspire to”.

Hastings, who reportedly has a net worth around $4.8 billion due to his 1.3% stake in Netflix, has long been an advocate for education. After a stint in the Peace Corp. in Africa teaching high school math in Swaziland, Hastings pursued a silicon career in tech before launching Netflix. Along the way, he’s been a big contributor to charter schools, including spending almost $9 million campaigning for select school measures and political candidates. In 2016 Hastings pledged a $100 million philanthropic fund for children’s education.

BET Dedicates $25 million to ‘Content for Change’ Initiative

ViacomCBS’s BET has launched a $25 million social justice initiative, “Content for Change,” an expansive campaign aiming to use the media plays in shaping and driving individuals’ and communities’ values, perceptions and actions on racial equality.

BET, in partnership with corporate, civil rights and social justice organizations, says it would leverage its position and platforms to positively impact social justice outcomes for Black Americans. The initiative will support the creation, distribution, marketing and promotion of content that will help drive the critical changes needed to eliminate systemic racism and inequality in America.

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“For 40 years, BET has been a unifying space for black people to be seen, heard, showcased and celebrated,” president Scott Mills said in a statement. “As many in America move more boldly and with a greater sense of urgency to address racial inequities, we will utilize the full breadth of our capabilities and partnerships to help drive this critical change.”

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Through the initiative, BET will expand relationships with and support of social justice organizations’ efforts to drive change. In addition, the network will bolster relationships with current content partners and forge relationships with up-and-coming creators to use its platform to rally the voices of Black lives, experiences and calls to action.

The campaign follows in the wake of the death of George Floyd and on the heels of the SOS COVID-19 Relief Effort, which raised $17 million, and the series of recent BET News specials.

This initiative will begin June 19, on Juneteenth — the nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States — with programming celebrating the resilience of the African-American spirit.

BET will premiere original short-form programming, including messages of inspiration, tenacity and hope from Black political leaders and activists. BET will also air inspirational movies, Selma, Marshall, Race and Do the Right Thing.

University of Iowa Football Players Ask Fans to Respect Peaceful Protest or Don’t Support the Team

In a first for a major college football team, members of the University of Iowa football team have gone on social media asking fans to support their right to engage in peaceful social justice protest, i.e. kneeling during the national anthem, or don’t bother supporting the Hawkeyes.

Sophomore defensive back Kaevon Merriweather June 8 posted an extended message on Twitter telling Hawkeye fans that belief in social justice extends beyond wishful thinking.

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“If you can not support us right now with this movement and with our team taking a knee during the national anthem, DO NOT support us during the football season,” Merriweather tweeted. “DO NOT watch our games on TV. DO NOT come up to us when you want photos. DO NOT ask us to give your kids autographs. DON’T COME TO US EXPECTING US TO DO FOR YOU WHEN YOU CAN’T SUPPORT THE BLACK ATHLETES ON THIS TEAM AND THE DECISIONS WE MAKE AS A TEAM. I would rather play in front of 1,000 fans who care about us as people outside of football and what we are standing for, than 70,000 fans who only care about us when we are in uniform and on the field entertaining them.”

The message, which was posted by several Hawkeye players on Instagram, follows allegations of a racist culture at the school for black players, in addition to racist comments made by suspended strength and conditioning coach Chris Doyle.

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African-Americans make up 4% of Iowa’s total population of 3.17 million, while comprising more than 50% of the football team.

The Hawkeyes compete in the Western division of the Big Ten Conference and play their home games in Iowa City at Kinnick Stadium, with a capacity of 69,250. The Hawkeyes are currently coached by Kirk Ferentz, who is in his 21st season as the head coach and is the longest current tenured head coach in NCAA Division I FBS.

Comcast Pledges $100 Million to Fight Racism, Advance Social Justice

Comcast chairman/CEO Brian Roberts June 8 issued a letter decrying the civil unrest rocking the country since the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day.

Roberts said Comcast would pledge $100 million to fight for social justice and equality, which includes $75 million cash and $25 million in media spending.

“We know that Comcast alone can’t remedy this complex issue,” Roberts wrote. “But you have my commitment that our company will try to play an integral role in driving lasting reform. Together, we hope to help create a more equitable, just and inclusive society.”

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Specifically, Roberts said the media giant would partner with, and provide significant grants to, organizations working to eradicate injustice and inequity. Organizations will include but not be limited to: the National Urban League, the Equal Justice Initiative, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the National Action Network and the Community Justice Action Fund.

Roberts said Comcast would put the “full weight” of its media resources behind highlighting black voices and black stories and educating viewers on diverse and inclusive cultures, perspectives and experiences, by making anti-racism education and inequality awareness a priority.

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“We will use our platforms across the organization to continue to shed light on societal issues related to race,” Roberts wrote. “NBC News will host a series of Town Halls, similar to their ‘Can You Hear Us Now’ special that aired this past Tuesday, and we will use the X1, Flex, Peacock and Sky platforms to promote and amplify multicultural content.”

NFL Says It Now Supports Peaceful Social Justice Protest

In a surprise move, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell late June 5 said the league now fully supports players voicing their concerns about social injustice and police brutality — a stance the NFL decidedly avoided in recent years, especially during the early days of the Trump Administration.

In a video posted on social media, Goodell, without naming any players (i.e. former San Francisco 49er QB Colin Kaepernick, who in 2016 kneeled during the national anthem), said the NFL was wrong for ignoring previous protests about social injustice.

“We, the National Football League condemn racism and systematic oppression of black people,” Goodell said on the video. “We, the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier, and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We, the National Football League believe black lives matter.”

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The admission comes 12 days after an unarmed black man (George Floyd) was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day. With the killing spurring violent protests across the country, and the fact African-American players comprise 70% of its on-field talent, the NFL, like many industries, has taken proactive steps to project an air of social and racial awareness.

That stance took a hit this week when rookie Buffalo Bills QB and former University of Georgia standout Jake Fromm was forced to apologize for racist comments he made in personal messaging that was leaked online.

Then veteran New Orleans QB Drew Brees, a fixture in NFL marketing, told a Yahoo Finance interview that he did not support anyone disrespecting the American flag. Kaepernick’s protests had been usurped by conservatives and President Trump, who claimed by kneeling the QB was dissing the flag, military, veterans and country.

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“I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country,” Brees told Yahoo.

Brees quickly apologized twice for his comments, saying he couldn’t imagine the hurt and anguish he had caused black teammates, fans and the city of New Orleans.

“[My comments] lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy,” Brees wrote on Instagram. “Instead, those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character.”

Trump June 5 weighed in on the matter angrily tweeting that Brees should not have to apologize for his position on the flag.

“I am a big fan of Drew Brees. I think he’s truly one of the greatest quarterbacks, but he should not have taken back his original stance on honoring our magnificent American Flag,” Trump tweeted. “OLD GLORY is to be revered, cherished, and flown high. We should be standing up straight and tall, ideally with a salute, or a hand on heart. There are other things you can protest, but not our Great American Flag — NO KNEELING!”

Brees responded, saying he vowed to be an “ally” for black people and social justice.

“Through my ongoing conversations with friends, teammates, and leaders in the black community, I realize this is not an issue about the American flag. It has never been,” Brees wrote. “We can no longer use the flag to turn people away or distract them from the real issues that face our black communities.

“We did this back in 2017, and regretfully I brought it back with my comments this week. We must stop talking about the flag and shift our attention to the real issues of systemic racial injustice, economic oppression, police brutality, and judicial & prison reform. We are at a critical juncture in our nation’s history! If not now, then when?

“We as a white community need to listen and learn from the pain and suffering of our black communities. We must acknowledge the problems, identify the solutions, and then put this into action. The black community cannot do it alone. This will require all of us.”

The NFL has pledged $20 million in financial support to organizations fighting for social justice and racial equality.

The Walt Disney Company Pledges $5 Million To Support Nonprofit Organizations That Advance Social Justice

The Walt Disney Company has pledged $5 million to support nonprofit organizations that advance social justice, beginning with a $2 million donation to the NAACP to further their longstanding work promoting social justice by eliminating disparities and racial discrimination through their advocacy and education programs.

“The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated,” CEO Bob Chapek said in a statement.

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The pledge is part of Disney’s ongoing commitment to support organizations that advance social justice. For many years, Disney has worked closely with groups that advocate for and empower communities of color, including the NAACP, whose mission is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights without discrimination based on race.

The media giant has also previously provided millions of dollars in grants to help students from underrepresented groups pursue higher education, including $2.5 million to the United Negro College Fund.

In addition, through the Disney Employee Matching Gifts program, employees are able to increase their impact in their communities by donating to eligible organizations, with the Company matching those gifts.

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On May 2, Disney aired a slate of special programming on a number of its TV networks to encourage a discussion of racism and oppression in America. The programming included an ABC News primetime special, “America in Pain: What Comes Next?,” that examined the protests and outrage across the country in response to the killing of Floyd. The special was preceded by the re-airing of two monumental and timely episodes of comedy “black-ish,” which explore the issue of police brutality and flaws in the judicial system, and “Juneteenth,” which examines the lack of accurate representation of African-Americans in the nation’s history.

Netflix, Disney, Hollywood Jump on ‘Black Lives Matter’ Bandwagon Following George Floyd Protests

With many major U.S. cities under curfew due to civilian unrest and riots following the death of a black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police on Memorial Day, Netflix, Disney, Hulu and several other Hollywood studios have taken to social media in support of peaceful protests.

Joining the SVOD services are Amazon Studios, Quibi, Lionsgate, HBO, Starz and Paramount Pictures, whose CEO Jim Gianopulos reportedly denounced the country’s systemic racism in a memo to staff.

“Too many members of the Black community have had their breath stolen from them through racial injustice,” Gianopulos wrote.

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On its Twitter page, Netflix May 30 wrote that to say nothing about the issue would be akin to being complicit about the injustice.

“Black lives matter. We have a platform, and we have a duty to our Black members, employees, creators and talent to speak up,” the streaming video pioneer wrote.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek, executive chairman Bob Iger and chief diversity officer Latondra Newton May 31 released a joint statement to Disney employees.

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“The recent killing of George Floyd as well as other instances of lethal attacks and harassment of unarmed black citizens in our nation continue to drive outrage and calls for action by people of all cultural backgrounds, including many of our employees,” they wrote. “Feelings of grief and anger cause us to confront the inscrutable idea that the lives of some are deemed less valuable — and less worthy of dignity, care and protection — than the lives of others.

“We intend to focus our efforts and resources to compassionately and constructively talk about these matters openly and honestly as we seek solutions. We intend to keep the conversation going, not just today, but for as long as it takes to bring about real change.”

Google-owned YouTube pledged $1 million to help fight social injustice. “We stand in solidarity against racism and violence. When members of our community hurt, we all hurt,” YouTube tweeted.

Hulu, whose former CEO Jason Kilar issued a separate staff memo on the topic at WarnerMedia, issued a social media post proclaiming support for social justice.

“We support Black lives. Today, and every day. You are seen. You are heard. And we are with you,” Hulu wrote.

HBO highlighted the late Black novelist James Baldwin regarding ignorance on the issue. “Neither love nor terror makes one blind: Indifference makes one blind,” wrote Baldwin.

“We stand with our Black colleagues, employees, fans, actors, storytellers — and all affected by senseless violence,” HBO wrote.

“Color of Change and the NAACP are among the organizations taking the lead in the fight for racial justice in America. We support them in their mission and you can too,” Starz tweeted.

Amazon’s video platform Twitch wrote on Twitter that black people “have been suffering under the oppressive weight of racism in America for far too long.”

“We cannot delight in the creative contributions of the Black community on Twitch and remain silent while they are in pain. We’re asking you to come together to and stand up for Black lives whether it’s through your time, treasure, or talent. Don’t let today’s injustice stop us from creating a better tomorrow for our community,” Twitch wrote.