Over 300 black artists and executives including Idris Elba, Viola Davis, and Chadwick Boseman, have called on Hollywood to “divest from police” and invest in the Black community in an open letter.
The letter, published on BLD PWR’s website, was penned by Kendrick Sampson, an American actor after he was hit by a police baton and shot seven times by rubber bullets during protests against anti-black police brutality in Los Angeles.
The letter was developed by Tessa Thompson, ‘Avengers: Endgame’ star, and Patrisse Cullors and Melina Abdullah, Black Lives Matter co-founders.
It was signed by over 300 black artists and executives, including Michael B Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Cynthia Erivo, Issa Rae, Anthony Mackie, Billy Porter and Danai Gurira.
The black movie stars who endorsed the letter called on the entertainment industry to, among other issues, “invest in anti-racist content”.
Other major reforms include “divest from anti-black content,” “invest in our careers,” and “invest in our community.”
“Hollywood has a privilege as a creative industry to imagine and create. We have significant influence over culture and politics. We have the ability to use our influence to imagine and create a better world,” it read.
“Yet, historically and currently, Hollywood encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness.”
The letter stated that “the way that Hollywood and mainstream media have contributed to the criminalization of Black people, the misrepresentation of the legal system, and the glorification of police corruption and violence has had dire consequences on Black lives.”
“These stories contribute to the killings of Black people like Deborah Danner, who was murdered by NYPD Sgt. Hugh Barry,” the letter continues. “It also includes the perpetuation of transphobic stories which are used to justify the murder of Tony McDade in Florida, Nina Pop in Missouri, Dominique Fells in Philadelphia, and Riah Milton in Ohio. We must end the exaltation of officers and agents that are brutal and act outside of the law as heroes. These portrayals encourage cops like Derek Chauvin, the murderer of George Floyd.”
The letter also cited the alleged disparity between blacks and whites in the Hollywood, noting that the industry rarely recruits black agents.
“Even with the recent successes of Black-led and produced films and television, myths of limited international sales and lack of universality of Black-led stories are used to reduce our content to smaller budgets and inadequate marketing campaigns,” it added.
“White people make up the smallest racial demographic globally, yet their stories are seen as internationally universal. When we do get the rare chance to tell our stories, our development, production, distribution and marketing processes are often marred, filtered and manipulated by the white gaze.
“We know these changes have the power to change Black lives in America. It is time for Hollywood to acknowledge its role and take on the responsibility of repairing the damage and being a proactive part of the change.”
The letter comes amid ongoing global movement over racism against blacks triggered by the killing of George Floyd, a black-American, by a white cop.