Alicia Keys and the NFL are partnering to create a $1 billion fund to benefit black-owned businesses.
The partnership comes on the heels of Alicia Keys’ performance at the NFL’s 2020 season kick-off event. Keys says she wants to help raise awareness about social injustice and systemic racism, an area that has become front-and-center for the NFL.
“We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Keys told Billboard. “As an artist, I’m always thinking about how I can 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 NFL is doing an abrupt about-face on racial injustice after taking a tough stance against Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick’s kneeling during the National Anthem sparked a polarizing debate over race. Four years later, the NFL says it was wrong to forbid its players from kneeling during the Anthem.
President Trump sharply criticized Kaepernick’s demonstration as disrespect to the flag and the country. Many of his supporters have taken a hard stance against the NFL’s recent efforts at including pro-BLM and racial justice slogans and anthems.
Artists like Alicia Keys and Jay-Z are using their platforms to stand up for racial justice.
As part of its social justice awareness initiatives, the NFL says it will allow the display of certain slogans. “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” will be on NFL end zones this season. “The NFL stands with the black community, the players, clubs, and fans,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told a press conference last week. “Confronting recent systemic racism with tangible and productive steps is absolutely essential. We will not relent in our work.”
Alicia Keys says her conversations with the NFL have led her to believe the organization has a “commitment to racial equity.” Keys has also released a new song entitled, “Love Looks Better.” Keys said when she was asked to do the NFL Kickoff event, she wanted to decline at first.
“It’s often said football is the microcosm of America. We all can see that deep, radical change is needed for our country, and together we can all work to transform it. It will take each of us to understand that racism and racial injustice rely on our individual and collective silence and ignorance,” the singer wrote on Twitter.