Kendrick Sampson has penned a powerful open letter calling for the Hollywood industry to divest from the police and make big changes to "affirm, defend and invest in Black lives." The Insecure star wrote the letter alongside actress Tessa Thompson and Black Lives Matter cofounders Patrisse Cullors and Melina Abdullah.
More than 300 Black artists and executives have signed the letter, including Idris Elba, Kerry Washington, Michael B. Jordan, Queen Latifah, Sterling K. Brown, Tiffany Haddish, Viola Davis, Yara Shahidi and Zoë Kravitz.
"Hollywood has a privilege as a creative industry to imagine and create," the letter begins. "We have significant influence over culture and politics. ... Yet, historically and currently, Hollywood encourages the epidemic of police violence and culture of anti-Blackness. The way that Hollywood and mainstream media have contributed to the criminalization of Black people, the misrepresentation of the legal system, and the glorification of police corruption and violence have had dire consequences on Black lives."
"The lack of a true commitment to inclusion and institutional support has only reinforced Hollywood's legacy of white supremacy," the letter continues. "This is not only in storytelling. It is cultural and systemic in Hollywood."
Sampson, who has been protesting for the Black Lives Matter movement after the death of George Floyd, called out the lack of Black agents and senior-level Black executives in the industry, and noted that Black-led films often have smaller budgets and inadequate marketing.
"By allowing white people to control and oppress the narratives that affirm Black lives, Hollywood has directly and indirectly inflicted harm and oppression onto our communities," he writes. "Because Hollywood has been a huge part of the problem, we demand it be a part of the solution. We, as Black people, bring immense, immeasurable cultural and economic value to the industry. We are also suffering from the oppression perpetuated by this industry. We have every right to demand this change."
"We demand better," he continues. "Prove that Black Lives Matter to Hollywood by taking bold moves to affirm, defend and invest in Black lives. Follow the examples of the Minneapolis School District, Denver Public Schools, the University of Minnesota and many other institutions in divesting from the policing system and investing in Black community."
The letter calls for no police to be on sets or at events, and to use private unionized security officers instead. Other major actions the letter calls for are divesting from anti-Black content -- ending the "intentional glorification of police brutality and corruption" and "content that dehumanizes or criminalizes Black people and champions abuse by law enforcement" -- as well as investing in anti-racist content, investing in more career opportunities for Black people, and investing in the community by using more Black-owned and Black-led businesses.
"We know these changes have the power to change Black lives in America," the letter concludes. "It is time for Hollywood to acknowledge its role and take on the responsibility of repairing the damage and being a proactive part of the change."