Alicia Keys’ newest collaboration expands beyond her prolific music career and followed in the footsteps of other artists who have used their platforms in order to better racial equity nationwide during 2020. The Grammy-winning singer partnered with the NFL on a $1 billion endowment fund that the league will be contributing in order to benefit Black-owned businesses and communities at a time where crises have arisen across the country.
How did Keys get involved?
In an interview with Billboard, Keys explained that the fund was developed to help turn the nationwide and global protests into “tangible action” as well as providing support for the Black community. The fund is meant to go one-step further than a one time donation so it can grow and flourish for years to come in hopes of exceeding the initial $1 billion endowment.
“We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Keys said. “As an artist, I’m always thinking about how can I use my platform to further racial equity. This fund is one of the answers and our goal is to empower Black America through investing in Black businesses, Black investors, institutions, entrepreneurs, schools and banks in a way to create sustainable solutions.”
The $1 billion fund was the initial goal in an effort to make sure there would be a substantial upfront commitment for racial and financial equity. But, as Keys explained, that billion dollars “does not come close to closing the economic gap.”
“The next steps are to reach out to different industries to invite them to invest in racial justice and create a multi-billion dollar endowment across business sectors,” she explained.
The NFL’s involvement
The NFL is no stranger to scrutiny for past behaviors when it came down to denouncing racial injustices. The league came under fire in recent years for their response to Colin Kaepernick’s decision to take a knee during the national anthem in 2016 in order to protest racial and social injustices across the country. Kaepernick filed a grievance against the league that accused owners of colluding to keep him out of the NFL after his peaceful act of protest garnered backlash and ultimately negatively affected his professional football career and public perception, leading to his former team, the San Francisco 49ers to cut their ties with the quarterback in 2016.
Tensions have eased in recent months. The NFL’s commissioner Roger Goodell doubled down on his redirected stance on social justice issues just years after Kaepernick’s controversy. The league launched a season-long “It Takes All of Us” brand campaign to align themselves with causes that support social justice initiatives across America and leverage the power of the league during a critical time in history.
What are the goals of the fund?
In Keys’ full statement, she revealed the fund would be used to create long term solutions that focus on Black entrepreneurs and businesses as well as schools, banks, communities, and Black institutions. All the while, the fund will not ignore the social and economic disparities that have developed after centuries of racial inequity. Keys emphasized that this is only the beginning of the fund and hopes that with time and additional funding, they will be able to expand the endowment across multiple industries.
The fund will be directed by Black leadership in an effort to empower Black Americans. The NFL has committed to ensuring Black representation in the board as well as executives, contractors, employees, suppliers, and vendors.
“The time is now for building the America we want and desperately need,” she said. “I am optimistic that if we take action and operate with a sense of urgency, together we will renew America and finally put an end to the false notion of racial hierarchy. Moving forward we must act together with love over hate, hope over fear and action over complacency to build the America we all know is possible.”
Photo credit: Alicia Keys Instagram