As protests continue across the nation, many prominent brands are making public statements about race relations, and many individual influencers are also speaking out. This has come to include many former household names who have not been in the spotlight for many years. One of the most recent is NBA Hall of Famer David Robinson. The two-time NBA champion, dubbed the Admiral, because he’s a graduate of the US Naval Academy and because of his on-court leadership, is talking about race relations in the United States, and people are listening.
Robinson says, despite his success – after basketball, he founded a successful investment firm – he is often still judged primarily on race. “Some people assume the worst about me,” Robinson told the press, “(Even though) I’ve had a lot of success…”
But Robinson says he’s not choosing to speak out now just to be added to all the other voices. He wants to use his platform to set an example he hopes others might follow. Robinson’s company, Admiral Capital Group, invests ten percent of profits back into local communities, usually into education, according to the firm’s co-founder, Daniel Bassichis.
Bassichis told the media that he and Robinson’s commitment to giving back is nothing new. They met nearly 20 years ago and found they had a shared interest in community service. Now, Admiral Capital is interested in opportunities that allow them to invest in commercial real estate while also investing in the communities around those properties.
In addition, Robinson said one of their “give-back” focuses is through IDEA Carver Academy, a Texas-based public charter school, which hopes to raise the bar on education standards, because, Robinson says, “education is key” at a time when racial issues are still apparent in America. Robinson says this message can be challenging:
“Part of the challenge is to help people understand that this is not just happening now… It’s bubbling to the surface more, but black people are aware of this all the time… (Without a good education) what options do you have?”
Some social activists are looking at brands like Admiral and others that are actively investing in local communities where their commercial interests are connected as examples for other businesses to follow. Instead of offering verbal support, they are telling companies the “proof” of their support is in action, not social media posts.
This message sets the bar for companies that have waded into the debate over social issues in this country. If a brand wants to be seen as an ally, a meme is “not enough” anymore. Protesters and allies want action. It’s a message companies that have already spoken out will be expected to respond to. Some, like Admiral Capital, have. Many others, because of their previous messages in support of protesters, are being watched.