The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting every aspect of our society and exposing deep, systemic inequalities that are killing Black people. As the news changes minute-to-minute, BET and Color Of Change are teaming up to make sure Black people have the clear and focused information we need to get help, take action and support the hardest hit in our communities.
There are some companies that are doing the right thing by offering paid sick leave, personal protective equipment and health insurance to their essential employees. And then there are others, million dollar corporations that are secretly putting profits over Black people’s health and safety in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Just one example is the way video and web conferencing giant Zoom has continued to allow cyber terrorists to attack Black people on their platform. Recently, Daughters of the Movement, a collective of several daughters of various prominent civil rights activists, were Zoombomed by hackers who called them the N-word, commented on their bodies and shared porn on their screens.
Zoom isn't alone in failing Black people during the pandemic. A number of other companies are avoiding responsibility and putting Black people in harm's way during this crisis.This week in #TheBlackResponse to COVID-19, we’re taking a look at some of the corporations that continue to sit in silence while the lives of Black people are devalued.
Here are five action steps you can take to hold these enterprises accountable to protect Black people, both on and offline.
Demand Zoom protect Black users from these racist attacks NOW. Zoombombing is so prevalent that most of us know at least one story of it happening since many more people are now using the service for work or otherwise. After relentless pressure from people like you, Zoom promised to make the platform safer for Black people weeks ago, but has stalled to follow through. In the meantime, the multi-billion dollar company has continued profiting from our reliance on its product. Tell your story to help raise the pressure on this essential service during the pandemic.
Let's make TurboTax and Quickbooks free to Black entrepreneurs during the pandemic. Women-owned or minority-owned business (WMBE) enterprises and small-owned businesses rely on Inuit services (owner of TurboTax and Quickbooks) to help keep their overhead costs down. Instead of taking money from the pockets of these struggling Black business owners, Inuit, which is worth some $50 billion, can afford to waive their costly fees across its platforms. Learn more about how this multi-billon company is using their tax filing program to potentially violate antitrust agreements and mislead these business owners into using their limited funds to cover the costs of these services.
Despite an extreme shortage of ventilators across the nation, manufacturers like GE Healthcare, AdvaMed, Medtronic, and Hamilton Medical that make these life-saving devices, have refused to lift repair restrictions that prohibit hospitals from making any repairs. In fact, when hospitals try to repair ventilators on their own, they get locked down by anti-repair software. If the hospital tries to bypass it, they could face legal ramifications. All this means is that broken ventilators could possibly lead to dead patients. Add your personal message to this petition and we’ll deliver it to these manufacturers, so they understand the true impact of their inaction.
Staying in touch with family and friends by phone or virtually is of the utmost importance during this pandemic and that goes for any individual who is currently in prison. Unfortunately, telecommunications companies like Secarus are exploiting Black families and incarcerated people charging them up to $25 for a 15-minute phone call and that includes communication to their legal counsel. This kind of price gouging is simply unacceptable especially during the COVID-19 crisis when in-person visits are forbidden and prisons around the country are experiencing some of the worst outbreaks in the world. Read more about the issue here and tell Securus to stop exploiting incarcerated Black people and their families. Make sure anyone who wants to do business with Secarus knows this company is hurting Black people in this way.
Sign the letter asking Safeway to create an online SNAP program that waives delivery fees. Poor people shouldn't be forced to put their lives at risk in order to get groceries. Safeway relies on the business of Black SNAP benefit recipients and is one supermarket chain that can afford to improve food security and help flatten the curve by allowing online purchases free of delivery fees during the pandemic. Sign your name to this Color Of Change letter to help show Safeway that there is mass support for responsible corporate action during the pandemic.
Time and time again we’ve seen that social movements can win real progress and force change within the world’s biggest corporations. During the pandemic, we’ve already compelled companies like Twitter, Barnes and Noble and Amazon to stop the flow of misinformation and install new policies to protect the accuracy of information about COVID-19 on their platforms. We successfully pushed the Los Angeles Times to remove part of its paywall so information about the pandemic will be free to all, regardless of economic standing. We even got federal prisons to stop some telecommunications companies from charging high prices for phone calls in and out of prisons.
COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on Black communities has proven, yet again, that corporations have a role to play in building healthy societies. The crisis we’re facing is an opportunity to push corporations and their enablers to prioritize their impact on the world. We have proven these actions can win tangible progress because our digital activism is already working, but we cannot do it without you. Together, we can make sure that corporations provide systemic solutions to systemic problems instead of short-term band-aid fixes.
Rashad Robinson is President of Color Of Change, a leading racial justice organization with more than 1.7 million members that design winning strategies to build power for Black communities. Rashad appears regularly in major news media and as a keynote speaker nationally. You can find him on Twitter @RashadRobinson.
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