In SummaryCorporate America pledged big bucks to Black-owned media outlets and organizations following the killing of George Floyd and nearly two years later, they’re being held accountable for their false promises.
The death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis ignited a worldwide racial awakening and rocked the foundations of corporate America in unexpected ways, with many companies pledging commitment to social change, but was it all talk?
Target, General Mills and Best Buy were among the companies that pledged to donate to Black-owned media outlets and organizations to celebrate Black culture and promote racial equity and diversity. Nearly two years later, they have yet to deliver on their commitment.
“When George Floyd died, companies were falling all over themselves to make declarations about what they were going to do to erase the racial wealth gap, to make things better, to make a difference,” said media personality Sheletta Brundidge. “Mr. Floyd’s death really removed the veil about racism that has been going on in this country since there was a country.”
Brundidge, the founder and namesake of the SHElettaMakesMeLaugh podcast network, has been in the broadcasting industry for 21 years. She credits herself as the first to reveal the true account of Floyd’s death rather than the police version of events widely circulated in the white media.
The podcast host recalls receiving a phone call from the family of Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who used her cell phone to record Floyd’s murder, telling her she needed to get the facts because what the police were saying was untrue.
“I used my podcast to create positive change in the community,” Brundidge said, adding she was the first and possibly only broadcaster in Minnesota to hold a town hall meeting with police, legislators and residents. “That’s the power of Black media, people trust us.”
Brundidge stated that both Black and white media were looking to firms in Minnesota that have profited from Black consumers for years. Even after she and other media outlets visited their marketing departments to provide their media kits and other resources, the corporations failed to deliver on their commitments.
Target and General Mills promised to devote 2% to 5% of their ad buys to Black-owned media. which was a welcome announcement for the outlets that had been working nonstop to report on how Floyd’s death impacted the community, including interviewing Frazier at a time when she wouldn’t speak with anyone else.
“Black media is the ambassador and the legacy keepers of the Black community,” said Brundidge. “If we don’t make it, if we don’t survive, then the stories in the Black community will die.”
It wasn’t until the Black media owners hosted a Town Hall and publicly chastised the corporations on social media that they began to receive call backs. She and other media professionals agree it shouldn’t take being criticized to do right by consumers who are responsible for keeping you in business.
“If you’re not going to do anything, don’t say anything,” she said. “Two years later, some of these companies have still not doled out a dollar to the causes that they said were important to them.”
Brundidge confesses she was “as hot as a firecracker on the Fourth of July” and for a time refused to shop at Target or buy General Mills products.
“This relationship with these corporations and the Black community have been one way for far too long,” she said. “If you’re really going to be an ally, if you’re really going to say you’re going to do this work in our community and help us make it better, then we’re going to need to see it. You can’t just say.”
The podcast network founder had received responses from General Mills and Target at the time of this interview, and was still awaiting a meeting to propose year-long relationships with Black-owned media outlets in Minnesota.
In addition to collaborating with local media sources, she also wants the funds to be used to help her hometown, which she describes as “the birthplace of the current civil rights movement,” grow, heal and improve.
Brundidge continues to use her podcasting platform to give back to the community, whether it’s putting together Easter baskets, dishing out Thanksgiving hams, mentoring and providing internships or lending a hand to small businesses.
“Whatever it is, wherever there is a need in the community, we are there,” she said.
As far as what she has to say to Target, General Mills and Best Buy, “It’s time to level up and put your money where your news release is.”