Corporate giants have been falling all over themselves to express support for the Black Lives Matter movement and contrition for systemic racism and white privilege.
Since the death of George Floyd, the nation has been convulsed by mass protests and riots. Anger at police brutality has galvanized nationwide calls for the institutional reform of law enforcement. At the same time, lawlessness has raged and has been widely condoned. As political leaders struggle for the right response to this national crisis, corporate America has been busy virtue signaling. In the process, it has demonstrated its spinelessness in abundance.
A long list of corporate giants has expressed solidarity with Black Lives Matter. Twitter, Netflix, Nike, Citigroup, Walmart, McDonald’s, and Coca-Cola are just some of the big names.
On its homepage, Amazon prominently posted: “Black lives matter. Amazon stands in solidarity with the Black community.” Dating apps, such as OkCupid, Bumble, Tinder, and Hinge, hurried to proclaim their support for Black Lives Matter and zero tolerance for hate and racism on their platforms. Though businesses belonging to Wendy’s, Target, and Apple have been looted or burned by protesters, these companies have not hesitated to declare their support for Black Lives Matter while making generous charitable donations to organizations that supposedly fight for social justice.
None of these companies have condemned the rampant violence inflicted by rioters across the country. None have condemned the looters who joyfully ransacked everything ranging from mom and pop stores to expensive brand names on Fifth Avenue in New York. None of the companies expressing indignation at injustice bothered to express any indignation at thugs burning storefronts and ruining the lives and livelihoods of small-business owners in urban neighborhoods. None of these companies seem capable of tapping into their infinite reservoir of outrage for the innocent civilians and police officers killed or injured by violent protesters.
Corporate America is cowering before violence by remaining silent about it. Meanwhile, even for the nonviolent aspects of the protest movement, corporate America has appeared incapable of critical thought. It has been eager to throw financial and rhetorical support behind Black Lives Matter, but no corporate spokesperson steeped in the art of spinning has explained how defunding the police, one of the primary goals of the protests, makes any sense.
As corporations virtue signal and open up their pockets out of cowardice and self-loathing, people have been cowed into fear themselves by the violence that goes unpunished and by a culture that accuses the country and vast sections of its citizenry as inherently racist. Many have chosen to express the requisite shame and remorse when demanded or just to keep their mouths shut.
Courage is hard to come by in a time of fear and chaos.
It was remarkable when a think tank in California, the Claremont Institute, which has none of the resources of America’s corporate titans, pointed out what needed to be said amid the country’s current catastrophe:
“The pretext for this entire nationwide riot is that America is a racist country. That is not true. America is not a racist country. America is a country that has strived, imperfectly but passionately, to live up to its founding promise that all men are created equal. There is not — and will never be — a greater barrier to racism, or to tyranny in any form, than this American idea.”
Alas, far too few have dared to say the same. Since late May, corporations have groveled. Political leaders on both the Left and the Right have dithered. Liberal white people have eagerly apologized for their privilege.
But it will take many more, like the Claremont Institute, to speak the truth, to condemn criminals, to advocate for sensible reforms, and to state that America is not a racist country. Don’t count on corporate America to take part.
Ying Ma is the former deputy director of the Committee for American Sovereignty, a pro-Trump super PAC. She is the author of Chinese Girl in the Ghetto.