Lena Waithe, Tessa Thompson, John Legend, Gabrielle Union...
They are just a few of the over 1,000 Black artists who've signed the demands listed on the new website for the Black Artists for Freedom, which describes itself as "a collective of black workers in the culture industries." Included among the list of signees are actors, fashion designers, musicians and many more influential figures in Hollywood and beyond.
Together, they've united to demand that all cultural institutions that "depend on Black culture," "commit to racial justice through material changes."
"The institutions which purport to represent us, our work and our interests must be active agents in correcting the wrongs they've long perpetuated," they write. "We are coming to collect our freedom."
They aim to do so by demanding that these institutions take these actions: "Break ties with the police, put their money where their mouths are, advocate for Black people, get educated and imagine Black freedom."
The group states they felt a responsibility to take action and call out the industries they belong to, because, as they explain it, these are "institutions that promote colonialism, capitalism and racism, and that function in exploitative and destructive ways."
They continue, "Culture alone can't fix racism. But culture is strongly connected to racism's material effects, and the representation of black people in the media has long been used to justify the violence against us. Racist stereotypes of Black criminality, monstrosity, unchecked rage, hyper-sexuality, immunity to pain and so on, are still recycled today in books, film and on the Internet. Consciously and unconsciously, these stereotypes are invoked—in everyday interactions and in courts of law—as reasons why Black people do not deserve human rights."
As a result of these beliefs, they state that they no longer seek to "modify or alleviate" the racial culture that pervades these institutions. Instead, they say they "aim to eliminate it" entirely.
Their call for justice comes as people across the country celebrate Juneteenth, a holiday that marks the day that slaves in Texas learned they were emancipated. Corporations like the NFL, Target, Nike and more have already announced they will be recognizing June 19 as a company holiday from this year forward.
However, stars from across the board, including Taylor Swift, are asking the U.S. government to join these businesses and formally recognize the day as a national holiday.