North Texas Daily

Black Lives Matter movement needs more support from Hollywood

Black Lives Matter movement needs more support from Hollywood

Black Lives Matter movement needs more support from Hollywood
September 08
19:34 2020

On Aug 26, the Milwaukee Bucks made the unprecedented decision not to take the court for their scheduled playoff game in response to the police shooting of yet another unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake. Since resuming play on July 22, the NBA has shown their support of the Black Lives Matter organization with messages painted on courts and printed on jerseys. This particular display of solidarity was the perfect example of using privilege and high-profile platforms to amplify something bigger than oneself.

The Bucks’ boycott served as the catalyst for conversations concerning how much more celebrities and public figures could be doing to promote the message of the BLM movement. Although protests have been ongoing since the police murder of George Floyd heightened racial tensions in May, the movement could garner more momentum if the Hollywood industry follows the NBA’s lead and takes action that goes beyond statements and donations.

Support from Hollywood entertainers and workers in the form of a strike would show the public that they are committed to facilitating change for Black Americans, even if it means putting their careers at risk.

Hollywood strikes have proven to be effective in the past. In 1941, Disney animators participated in a strike which lasted five weeks. According to The Animation Guild’s website, the strike was in response to unequal pay from the then non-unionized production company and resulted in Disney ultimately signing a union contract.

Similar to the social media aspect of Black Out Day, when participants refrained from posting content that did not revolve around the BLM movement, Hollywood workers should withhold content until concrete change is made to protect Black people from systemic racism.

Change should include justice for victims of police brutality including Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake – to name a few.  Additional demands include implementing legislation, reform and extensive training for police departments across the nation. Hollywood writers, producers, directors, entertainers and other influencers should be at the forefront of the BLM movement, advocating for change and amplifying its message with the upmost vigor. Unlike the average ally, they are the citizens with the most privilege and wealth which serves as major motivation for American politicians.

Celebrities using their platform to evoke political change has become the norm in recent years. During the 2018 mid-term elections, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Taylor Swift were among A-listers who publicly endorsed candidates. Swift’s public endorsement was her first, confirming that silence from the influential is no longer acceptable.

Craig Garthwaite, Ph.D., and Tim Moore, Ph.D., of the University of Maryland conducted research into how celebrity endorsements influenced the historic 2008 election. The study found evidence that media mogul Oprah Winfrey’s endorsement of former President Barack Obama was the stimulus for nearly one million of the votes he garnered. That amount of impact thrown behind the BLM movement in the radical form of a strike would put incredible pressure on lawmakers to protect Black Americans.

Participating in BLM strikes would cause a disruption, but that is exactly what America needs. People who have been apathetic to race relations will no longer have the option of using television, movies and music to distract them from the reality that Black people have been facing for decades. Additionally, politicians and other people in positions of power will feel more inclined to answer America’s pleas for reform.

Hollywood workers participating in strikes would prove that the support they have shown so far is not purely performative. Putting their income and livelihood to the side would be the ultimate display of allyship. It could be the catalyst that convinces politicians and America as a whole that change is necessary and overdue.

Featured Illustration by Austin Banzon

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Rhema Joy Bell

Rhema Joy Bell

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