The year 2020 may be seen by some as an anomaly of the modern era. At the same time as a global pandemic brought the capitalist West into a new health crisis, the unjust murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd by U.S. law enforcement brought on another social crisis. Thus, while modern American life came to a standstill around the pandemic, Black Lives Matter (BLM) regained momentum, with one notable call being directed at corporations to recognise these racial injustices and support racial equity. Of importance to this matter is the way capitalism is understood as racial capitalism, a system that, for the past 400 years, has expropriated and devalued Black labour and life. This research attempts to add to the body of research in the field of racial capitalism by expanding on how racial capitalism and its system of expropriation remain visible within corporate responses. This study performs a qualitative thematic analysis of the reaction to BLM 2020 by the 25 top-earning American corporations of 2020. The study introduces two thematic frameworks; 1) the external corporate action frame and 2) the internal corporate action frame. These frameworks measure the responses of corporations to BLM 2020 on social media and through their websites. The results of this research show that corporate responses fall within a two-step process towards equity, in which either a focus on diversity remains or, in some cases, a new focus on racial equity develops. By building on the theories of interest convergence and the perpetrator perspective from Critical Race Theory (CRT), the results nevertheless unearth how racial capitalism’s system of expropriation remains visible within their responses.

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Bonnie French, Willem Schinkel
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences

Bews, G. (2021, June 20). Racial Capitalism, Interest Convergence and the Perpetrator Perspective: An Understanding of Corporate Responses to #BlackLivesMatter in 2020. Sociology. Retrieved from