The year 2020 has proven to be unpredictable. Due to current events, businesses are looking to public relations professionals to help guide them through the ongoing pandemic and a nation-wide awakening on the Black Lives Matter movement to advocate against police brutality and the unlawful treatment of Black individuals.
Sixty years later from the last civil rights movement and the justice system is being challenged by the Black Lives Matter protests. People have acknowledged social inequality from their jobs, businesses they support and society as a whole. It has come to a point where Black people are unnerved to simply jog in their neighborhood without feeling like the police have issued a target on their back — this is one of many examples and feelings Black people and people of color face everyday. While many organizations are speaking up on the matter, there are countless who have stayed in the dark about addressing the racial injustice. It makes people wonder why they keep quiet — Do they not support the Black Lives Matter movement? Are they scared to anger certain clients? Do they believe it would affect their business? Do they not know how to approach the topic? Why should racism be a debate? These are all unknowns to many individuals which lead to society wanting answers and enforcing change.
During these times attention has been brought to companies who come across as insensitive concerning the movement and lack of involvement from not using their social media platforms to speak out on these issues. Brands are actively seeking PR professionals who can address the ongoing topics at hand. Public relations is a form of guidance to educate, reflect the importance of sensitive discussions, and portray the organizations’ views to the public. Companies that do not speak up may be composed of individuals who have never been discriminated by the color of their skin or felt systematically oppressed. With that being said, for those who cannot relate to these issues, it is important to educate yourself on the movement and acknowledge those facing social injustice.
The qualities of a good PR agency versus a bad one, is the strategy behind the ‘why’ for each company facing backlash. A good public relations agency will always stay relevant on current events and media, go out of the way to educate themselves and willing to understand what Black people and people of color have been experiencing. Social media platforms are known for making lasting impressions, which can lead to good or bad publicity. Realistically, the people in power are not supported without the power of the people.
The Black Lives Matter movement has proven to be a mirror to us. A reflection of our morals, values, our love for human rights and community; showing us which side of history we will stand. Here are some significant ways that you can engage in to advocate change:
1. Participate With Your Time/Money—
- Donate to and support organizations campaigning for justice and liberation.
- Inform those unaware of corporations profiting from prison labor or advertising hate on media.
- Refuse to support businesses who promote social injustice.
- Have that difficult conversation about the movement with family, friends, and those who fall under white privilege and economic privilege.
Organizations to Donate to—
Community-enrichment organizations: R.E.S.I.S.T., Black and Brown Founders, Embrace Race and Black Table Arts.
Legal defense organizations: NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Legal Rights Center and Restoring Justice: Texas.
2. Learn Black History
- Be educated and aware of the struggles Black individuals have been facing, such as reading and listening to the podcast: The 1619 Project by New York Times journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones. This is a great start to understanding American slavery.
- Watch documentaries and interviews: 13th on Netflix, Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated documentary. A few of my favorite virtual interviews include, Dr. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King, JR. Public interest lawyer and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, Bryan Stevenson. The co-founders of the Black Lives Matter organization have an informative interview that explains the foundation at large.
Organizations to Donate to—
Youth community organizations: Black Girls Code, Pretty Brown Girl and Colin Kaepernick Know Your Rights Camp.
3. Defend Your Rights
- Confront the policy-makers to demand structural policy change — prioritizing our healthcare, schools, and economic empowerment ahead of the police budget.
- Be aware of defending your First Amendment rights. You can reference American Civil Liberties Union and Legal Aid Society to answer any questions or concerns when it comes to police brutality and protesting.
Organizations to Donate to—
Policy-reform organizations: American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter Global Network, Community Justice Action Fund, and Color of Change Education Fund.
Police-reform organizations: The National Police Accountability Project, Campaign Zero, Communities United for Police Reform and Communities Against Police Brutality.
The Black Lives Matter movement has impacted the nation to effectively come together and emphasize racial injustice and the changes needed to be made. When attention is brought through the lenses of media, humankind and public relations, it is important to speak to the sensitivity of the topic and let the educational facts be your guide. Communication professionals have a unique opportunity to put a megaphone to voices that need to be heard, and dig deeper in understanding the people affected in various discriminatory aspects. This is a Human Rights concern and one that should not be taken lightly.
By Sofia Cuellar
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