Just weeks after “Insecure” star Kendrick Sampson was hit with rubber bullets and a police baton at a Black Lives Matter rally, he’s helped write a letter to demand major changes in Hollywood.
The letter, developed by Kendrick, Tessa Thompson, and Black Lives Matters co-founders Patrisse Cullors and Melina Abdullah, asks the entertainment industry to divest in police and invest in the Black community. More than 300 Black artists and executives signed the letter, including Michael B. Jordan, Viola Davis, Billy Porter, Idris Elba, Issa Rae, Danai Gurira, Chadwick Boseman and others.
The message, published by Variety, starts out, “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. Yet, historically and currently, Hollywood encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness.”
The letter continues, “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.”
Later, Sampson and the others point out it isn’t just in the storytelling. “It is cultural and systemic in Hollywood. Our agencies, which often serve as industry gatekeepers, don’t recruit, retain or support Black agents. Our unions don’t consider or defend our specific, intersectional struggles. Unions are even worse for our below-the-line crew, especially for Black women. Hollywood studios and production companies that exploit and profit from our stories rarely have any senior-level Black executives with greenlighting power.”
The letter goes on, “Black-led stories are used to reduce our content to smaller budgets and inadequate marketing campaigns… 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. Due to Hollywood’s immense influence over politics and culture, all of the racism, discrimination and glass ceilings Black people in Hollywood experience on a regular basis have direct implications on Black lives everywhere.”
The statement asserts, “By allowing white people to control and oppress the narratives that affirm Black lives, Hollywood has directly and indirectly inflicted harm and oppression onto our communities.”
Some of the demands include: "Divest from police, divest from anti-black content, invest in our careers, invest in anti-racist content and invest in our community." See a full list here: http://www.BLDPWR.com.
The letter concludes, “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.”
Read the full letter here.
Earlier this month, “Extra’s” Charissa Thompson spoke with Kendrick about the protests, the injuries he sustained, and what was next in the movement. Watch!