Diversity activists are accusing the entertainment industry of “corporate blackface” and running out of “White guilt” after a number of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) executives at top entertainment and media companies suddenly stepped down or were forced out of their roles.
Between June 20 and July 3, at least five executives overseeing DEI initiatives at leading entertainment companies including Disney, Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery, left their posts. All the outgoing execs are Black women.
An LA Times story published Tuesday linked the high-profile exits to the backlash against “wokeness” by conservative politics and pundits, as many speculate whether the job changes are a result of the growing pushback to the left’s diversity push.
The story, titled “High-profile exits spark fears that Hollywood diversity pledges are just ‘PR,’ focuses its ire on the entertainment industry, citing a number of outraged equity activists who accused Hollywood of making insincere commitments to diversity and racial justice programs for “PR” purposes after the George Floyd protests in the summer of 2020.
“Numerous diversity-centered initiatives were established. More transparency around issues of race was assured. But companies have since begun to scale back such commitments and, in some cases, employees dedicated to diversity initiatives, leading some insiders and advocates to fear that the doors to more opportunities once again have been slammed shut,” the LA Times story reads.
“2020 was the year that we were definitely making strides — but there wasn’t any strategy, there wasn’t any plan,” Kim Crayton, the self-described “anti-racist economist” and author of the book “Profit Without Oppression,” told the LA Times. “It was a PR moment — corporate blackface … I told people at the time: ‘White guilt isn’t going to last.’”
Vic Bulluck, the founding executive director of the NAACP Hollywood Bureau, called the Hollywood exits “frightening” in the LA Times article.
“Hollywood seems to be sending a message that these programs that were designed to give more access to African Americans are no longer needed,” he said.
Paula Madison, a former chief diversity officer of NBCUniversal, blamed the companies and corporations – not the executives charged with overseeing the initiatives – for the lack of “actual accomplishments” on the DEI front.
“Billions of dollars were committed,” Madison said. “What have been the actual accomplishments? Very little, if anything. So here we are. Now these companies say they’re ‘reorganizing, rethinking and taking a hard look.’ They say they are not pulling away from their commitments. No, they’re not — but they didn’t really have much of a commitment in the first place,” she said.