In the last few days, as the nation and the world are embroiled in protest, a number of high profile celebrities and companies have publicly voiced support for racial justice in general, if not movements like Black Lives Matter by name. The Walt Disney Company is one of those in the entertainment industry that has publicly spoken out against racism, but the company has also followed up the statements with action, donating $5 million to nonprofit organizations that "advance social justice."
$2 million of the $5 million total is already set to go to the NAACP. In addition to donating money directly to nonprofit organizations, the company will also match donations given by Disney cast members through the Disney Employee Matching Gifts program. In a statement from Disney, CEO Bob Chapek said...
The killing of George Floyd has forced our nation to once again confront the long history of injustice that black people in America have suffered, and it is critical that we stand together, speak out and do everything in our power to ensure that acts of racism and violence are never tolerated. This $5 million pledge will continue to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations such as the NAACP that have worked tirelessly to ensure equality and justice.
The promise of the money comes following statements like this one, which went out over many of Disney's various social media channels.
Disney also sent out a letter to its employees promising "real change" would come from the organization regarding diversity and social justice.
While $5 million isn't going to fix anything overnight, it's a strong message sent nonetheless. Especially, coming as it does during a period where the Walt Disney Company, 800-lb. gorilla that it is, is struggling financially as much as it has in decades. With movie theaters and theme parks closed, the vast majority of the Disney revenue stream has dried up. That's slowly beginning to change as Walt Disney World and Disney Stores are looking to slowly reopen, but even that won't turn things around overnight.
Major Disney executives recently took pay cuts due to the financial strain the company was experiencing, but this $5 million was money that clearly the company felt was needed under the circumstances. Of course, the money is still just another step.
Disney isn't the only company who pledging to support social justice with money as well as words. J.J. Abrams Bad Robot production company announced plans to donate $200,000 to each of 10 different causes, and has promised to donate as much as $10 million over the next five years to similar organizations.
Disney is the king of the box office and one of the biggest names in the world. When it speaks, the world listens, and so such a public statement will likely mean a lot. The action will mean more.