Alicia Keys has launched a $1 billion dream fund for black-owned businesses.
The "No One" singer announced the full details of her latest initiative while explaining why she agreed to perform at the National Football League's Kickoff event for its 2020 season on Thursday (10Sep20), revealing NFL bosses will be contributing to the endowment fund.
"We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us," Keys writes in an open letter to Billboard. "As an artist, I'm always thinking about how can I 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."
She explains the idea for the fund came about as she watched the Black Lives Matter protests in America this spring and summer, revealing she wanted to find a way to help those in need.
"The initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment," Keys says. "Even with that it does not come close to closing the economic gap. The next steps are to reach out to different industries to invite them to invest in racial justice and create a multi-billion dollar endowment across business sectors."
And she's quick to address criticism she's sure she'll receive for backing the NFL executives, who have come under increasing scrutiny in recent years over the way they dealt with quarterback Colin Kaepernick's efforts to protest police brutality and racial injustice issues by taking a knee during the National Anthem at the beginning of games.
The sportsman was largely ostracised and found himself without a team.
In 2016, he filed a grievance against the league, accusing owners of colluding to keep him out of the NFL.
"Today, I will be doing something I never thought I would do again," she writes. "I'm performing for the NFL Kickoff event. My initial reaction was to decline because of some of the NFL's past decisions. Yet I realized I HAVE to use my platform, we all need to use our platforms, every chance we get to press for racial equity."
"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. If you know that there are two Americas – one that seems safe and full of possibilities and another where a racial hierarchy allows for Black Americans to be systematically brutalized and dehumanized – and you do not act, then you are complicit."