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Friday, June 18, 2021

Boyd: It’s time for corporate America to back up the talk

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All eyes are on Georgia right now. The state passed a law that increases voting restrictions. Several states — including Indiana — have a similar bill moving through the legislature. Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines have expressed opposition to the law. Major League Baseball pulled the All-Star Game out of Atlanta to show how serious it is in opposing this law.

Some may think this is very brave of the CEOs of these companies for using their corporate voices to make significant, needed change in this country. Some are impressed.

I’m not.

I’m not impressed because I want to know where were those voices in the early stages of the process? Laws don’t just appear after one person dreams up one. Opponents and proponents of the proposed law have the opportunity to listen and debate the bill. There are usually multiple drafts of the proposed law. There are edits and revisions. The process lasts weeks if not months. Sometimes the process takes years because a bill may not pass the first time it’s introduced.

These CEOs had plenty of time to voice their concerns or opposition. The fact that they waited until after the bill was passed is telling. They only spoke up when they realized they could lose money.

Initially, Delta was on board with the law until the #BoycottDelta hashtag started trending in March. Then CEO Ed Bastian had an epiphany about Senate Bill 202. He released a statement saying, “I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values.” He went on to say, “The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.” You should’ve said all of that before the bill was passed, Ed.

Now, Republicans are angry about a “woke cancel culture,” and Sen. Mitch McConnell is saying corporations have no place in politics — unless it’s making donations. I had to laugh at that one. McConnell knows he owes a lot to corporate America, so he had to calm down a bit and make it clear he still wants the money.

Sorry, McConnell, you can’t have it both ways. Since when have corporate interests not been tied to American politics? Now that the Republicans don’t like what CEOs have to say they want to cancel the CEOs. They’re making it look as though they’re the victims here. Republican politicians have that down to a science. My beef, though, isn’t with the Republicans. They’re going to do whatever they can to always come out on top and if that means whine about how oppressed they are while actually being the oppressor, so be it. My real beef is with these CEOs.

The men and women (but mainly men, white men) who run these large corporations are the ones who really have the power to end the systems of oppression in this country. We can sing “Kumbaya,” hold hands, hug and cry together all we want, but no one really listens until the money is affected. Think about it. If it were really about morality and following the Golden Rule, the Civil Rights Movement would’ve effectively ended systemic racism, discrimination, sexism, etc. But that didn’t happen, and we’re still fighting the same issues.

If the CEOs were really serious about ending racism, instead of simply posting statements on their company’s social media pages and pledges to do better with regards to diversity, inclusion and equity, they would actually do something — with their money. They would let lawmakers know they will take their business to a less racist state. They would quit giving money to racist politicians. They would quit giving money to sexist, homophobic or transphobic politicians. They would recognize they have the power to end this. For once and for all.

Listening to tears only lasts for so long. We only have to look at how much sway the NRA has when it comes to gun control. Every time a mass shooting occurs the handwringing begins and so do the conversations about reigning in guns. Then the NRA shuts it all down. Then we repeat.

Money talks. Let’s see some CEOs preemptively put their money where their mouth is and effect real change not just optics.

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