Rewriting America

July 7, 2020

As people and brands take notice of systemic failures, they are fighting back in ways that challenge old norms and shift perspectives. 2020 is primed for a rewrite.

Merriam-Webster is working to revise the decades old definition of racism, which many found vague and too open to cherry-picked interpretation. To more accurately illustrate systemic racism, the new definition will elaborate on the fact that racism sits at the intersection of racial prejudice and institutional oppression.

Following the murder of George Floyd, some shifts are even greater with police under the spotlight. Nearly half (46%) of US adults now believe law enforcement needs major reform.* State and local governments are acting. Following Minneapolis’ unanimous city council vote to defund the police and replace it with a more holistic approach to public safety, Colorado enacted the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act. It’s the first state law that helps plaintiffs pursue cases against police officers by barring qualified immunity as a defense.  The doctrine of qualified immunity has long kept government agents insulated from civil liability (read: money damages).

Brands are adding educational addenda to improve understanding. HBO Max temporarily removed “Gone With the Wind” from its library to add a short video addressing its widely criticized romantic depiction of the antebellum South and simultaneous glossing over of the brutality of chattel slavery. While the intro brings awareness to the conflicting cultural significance of the 10-time Oscar-winning film, HBO Max went even further by adding a 57-minute panel discussion about its complicated history.

Brands can also shift views for long term growth. For entertainment and other creative content brands, providing added context like various perspectives on complex subjects will help strengthen connections with viewers without having to bid farewell to prized cultural staples.

Source: *Horizon Media Finger on the Pulse. Fielded, 6/25/20 – 6/29/20, n=1170

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