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Corporate Activism is an Embarrassment

Thumbnail by George Pagan III. 

There’s undoubtedly a spotlight on brands that stand with the BLM movement. But is this all just a PR stunt? Are brands manipulating activism for fear that they will be cancelled if they don’t? Among other corporations, Amazon and Nike have come under fire for their hypocritical stances on Black Lives Matter. Examining their empty activism is just the first step in demanding an equitable, safe, and empowering workplace for their employees.


Throughout the Black Lives Matter movement, Nike has stated that they are a brand committed to working against human suffering. But if they’re so committed, how can they so easily overlook forced Uighur labor in their supply chains? If they’re so wildly against suffering and tragedy, how could they have supported a coach who abused their sponsored female track runners? How do they find it acceptable that only 4.8% of those in directors’ positions are black?


While Amazon has released statements that reflect solidarity with the black community, it’s important to remember that only 8.3% of managerial positions are held by black people. They’ve fired black employees who asked for better working conditions. They’ve sold web hosting services to ICE, using subsidiary companies to aid surveillance, promoting unsafe working conditions, and more. Can a simple statement truly undo all of the harm that they’ve created as a company? That’s definitely dubious.

Corporations like Amazon and Nike have capitalized on the loss of black lives before our eyes. It’s great to see that they’re donating to causes that directly help black communities, but they’re still heading to the bank with money made directly from human rights abuses, from increased CO2 emissions, from blatant racism.

Empty words aren’t enough. Brands have the power and authority to make a remarkable difference. They need to put their money where their mouth is. Tangible change from the ground up is needed – nothing less.

  • Can you support brands that use activist movements for PR?

    • Yes, their PR doesn’t tie in with their actual services.
    • No, brands have a responsibility to maintain transparency all around.


Written by Marina Martinez

Arizonan student at the University of Edinburgh, dog lover, desert rat, meme aficionado and coffee enthusiast.

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