Amid nationwide protests in response to the death of George Floyd, brands of all sizes and across various industries have been putting out public statements about the ongoing protests and calling for justice.
It wasn’t long after the first wave of company statements that people online started to pick up on a theme. Chris Franklin, a programmer from North Carolina, captured it with his own statement mockup.
He told BuzzFeed News that his generic brand statement meme came to him after seeing the statements issued by the NFL and Amazon.
He said: “I mostly made the image in response to Amazon and the NFL, who both were some of the earliest on the scene with these sort of tweets, but also have these long histories of making the situation worse.
“The NFL's handling of Kaepernick and taking the knee makes their statement of solidarity absurd on its face. Meanwhile, Amazon is not only well-known for treating its workers poorly but also owns Ring, which is kind of famous for working with police officers in potentially problematic ways. And it really struck me that both of these organizations could make changes right now, whether it's donating money or cutting ties with police departments or altering policy. Instead we got milquetoast boilerplate statements about racism being bad but with no action behind it.”
Many other people have also been questioning the validity of the statements from the NFL and Amazon online. BuzzFeed News has reached out to the NFL and Amazon for comment on the criticism.
Franklin also criticized many of the statements brands were putting out as “performative.”
“There's also this problem of corporations wanting to be on the right side of history but also be apolitical that really bugs me," he said. "Like, you'll see lots of these posts have ‘There's a lot of work to be done!’ or ‘Inequality must end!’ Which are good sentiments! But they never, ever take the next step."
As he noticed, the black-and-white theme is evidently popular among brands.
The 35-year-old said he wants to see change and action — not just statements.
“They don't lobby for the demilitarization of police, or vocalize support for the end of qualified immunity," he said. "So you have these companies that have no intention of changing their behavior and no real willingness to actually advocate for change sitting on the sidelines, shaking their head, and saying ‘racism is bad’ in order to spin unrest for their own PR. Which, I guess, when I write that down sounds pretty abhorrent.”