Billy Porter, Tessa Thompson, and hundreds of other Black stars signed a letter demanding change in Hollywood
In an open letter titled “Hollywood 4 Black Lives,” published Tuesday, June 23rd, more than 300 Black creatives demanded that Hollywood cease the cultivation of its “culture of anti-Blackness.” Written and published by actor Kendrick Sampson via his BLD PWR initiative, and signed by Billy Porter, Tessa Thompson, Laverne Cox, Viola Davis, Michael B. Jordan, and hundreds more, the letter demands that Hollywood use its privilege to lead the way to a better, equal, and diverse future.
“Hollywood has a privilege as a creative industry to imagine and create,” the letter, addressed to “our allies in Hollywood,” begins. “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 alleges that Hollywood and mainstream media have lent a helping hand to the criminalization of Black people and the misrepresentation of the U.S. legal system. Together, they’ve glorified the police as well as police corruption and villainized Black people struggling with mental health.
“The lack of a true commitment to inclusion and institutional support has only reinforced Hollywood’s legacy of white supremacy,” the letter continues. “This is not only in storytelling. It is cultural and systemic in Hollywood.”
To fix the broken system, the letter outlines a list of “musts” that Hollywood needs to employ. First, Hollywood and mainstream media must “divest from police” as well as “anti-Black content.” Next, the industry must “invest in anti-racist content,” “in our careers,” and “our community.”
“Our agencies, which often serve as industry gatekeepers, don’t recruit, retain or support Black agents,” the letter reads. “Our unions don’t consider or defend our specific, intersectional struggles…Hollywood studios and production companies that exploit and profit from our stories rarely have any senior-level Black executives with greenlighting power.”
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,” the letter continues.
The creatives that penned and signed this letter do not wish to “cancel” Hollywood. Rather, they want the major industry to lead the way in solving the inequality problem simply by allowing more Black stories to be told from Black viewpoints with the help of Black actors, crew, writers, producers, etc.
Read the entire letter here. With the amount of money, power, and influence within Hollywood, there’s no excuse for not making this happen.