Unilever CEO Calls Out The ‘Woke-Washers’: RaceAhead

June 21, 2019, 3:49 PM UTC

Here’s your week in review, in haiku



Hush little baby,

don’t say a word. No one will

hear you anyway.



I’d planned to critique

Taylor Swift, then thought that I

needed to calm down



Some rain has come to

Chennai: It is too little

and far, far, too late.



Revolution in

the streets: Khartoum to Hong Kong.

Watch the power shift



This is how the world

Ends: Just not with a whimper,

but cocked and loaded


Have a powerful and peaceful weekend.

On Point

Unilever CEO says 'woke-washing' is dangerousIn a strongly worded presentation to his fellow marketers at Cannes Lions, Alan Jope, Unilever’s chief executive, says inauthentic branding is eroding consumer trust. “Woke-washing is beginning to infect our industry,” he said. “It’s putting in peril the very thing which offers us the opportunity to help tackle many of the world’s issues.” This story from The Guardian cites several examples, including British supermarket chain Marks and Spencer who came under fire for creating an LGBTQ-themed sandwich for Pride Month. Besides eroding trust, it’s a missed opportunity, said Jope. "Purpose-led brand communications is not just a matter of ‘make them cry, make them buy’. It’s about action in the world."The Guardian

Philadelphia moves 72 cops to desk duty after racist comments on social media unearthed
Philadelphia’s Police Department removed these officers from active duty after Plan View Project, a study conducted by a team of lawyers of the social media accounts of police officers, indicated 300 of Philadelphia’s officers made inappropriate, violent, or racist remarks online. The department, according to Slate, also announced it appointed a law firm with examining 3,100 questionable posts by its officers. And they expect further action—including termination of employment—to be taken following the review.

An otherwise qualified lesbian couple has been barred from fostering refugee children
In fact, they were told by a tax-payer funded contractor of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that they were unsuitable because their relationship doesn’t “mirror the Holy Family.” The married Forth Worth, Texas-area couple began looking into fostering after attempts to expand their family via in vitro fertilization were unsuccessful. Bryn Esplin and Fatma Marouf contacted a local child-welfare organization contracted by the federal government. "We just felt like we could provide a good home, and there were hundreds of kids needing it in this area, so it just seemed like something we could do,” Marouf told The Daily Beast. The couple is now suing. “Would we really allow the government to contract with an organization, say, that refuses to place children with African-American couples or Hispanic couples? I think that most people would think that shouldn’t be allowed.”
The Daily Beast

An otherwise 'unqualified' lesbian couple has launched a successful inclusive underwear company
TomboyX founders Fran Dunaway and Naomi Gonzalez were long on frustration but short on any apparel-making, design, or marketing experience when the married couple launched TomBoyX, a company that takes the “gendered” out of underclothes. “It’s about finding clothing that represents how you feel and how you want to present,” Dunaway says. “That societal construct you see when you walk into a store, [where] its ‘boy and girl’ and ‘men and women’ … there are a lot of people who ride in that in-between.” They started six years ago with some shirts, though they “didn’t know a knit from a woven,” and now have a staff of 30 and $25 million in funding. “Clothing for me really is about freedom,” Gonzalez says. “It’s the freedom to be who I want to be and to dress and express myself — however I choose to do so.”

On Background

A new documentary explores the little-known history of the discrimination against LGBTQ federal employees
“We already know you’re gay. You give us the names of others and we’ll go easier on you.” So begins this gut-wrenching tale of the underreported targeting, harassment, and firing of gay and lesbian federal employees, a campaign that destroyed the lives of tens of thousands of people in the 1950s and plunged the country into a panic that rivaled the Communist Red Scare. “The Lavender Scare” tells the true story of the often-violent campaign led by lawmakers and the federal government, a decades-long effort started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower who declared gay people to be “security risks.” The film uses previously classified documents and first hand interviews with both the targets and the perpetrators. Check your local PBS stations for air times, find clips and much more information below.

In St. Cloud, Minn., an anti-Muslim, anti-immigration group opposes refugee resettlement program
The so-called Concerned Community Citizens (C-Cubed) have organized protests and events with anti-Muslim speakers, and worked to have candidates who support their anti-immigrant agenda elected to local office. In a small city of about 70,000 people, such efforts have “changed the political landscape,” reports the New York Times. “This is the Hatfields and McCoys,” said Republican St. Cloud City Council member Paul Brandmire. Ekram Elmoge, who resettled from Somalia nearly five years ago, has experienced harassment from some white residents, and despite the growing immigrant population, described St. Cloud as “diversity without inclusions.” The increase of St. Cloud’s nonwhite (mostly East African) population, which grew from 2% to 18%, has only emboldened the Minnesotan anti-immigrant crowd. Kim Crockett, the vice president and general counsel of a Minnesotan conservative think tank, said she plans to sue over the resettlement program. “These aren’t people coming from Norway, let’s put it that way.”
New York Times

Algorithm accurately reconstructs human faces from the brain waves of monkeys
This is a fascinating piece with a lot of implications for a world that’s increasingly driven by algorithms and other magic tech. A group of researchers from the California Institute of Technology have successfully recreated human faces by studying groups of specialized neurons in the brains of macaque monkeys that appear to work together to recognize an individual face. The monkeys were shown photos, while their brains were being scanned. With each neuron encoding a different aspect of a face, researchers were able to recreate the faces the monkeys saw by using signals from just 205 neurons with astonishing accuracy.

Tamara El-Waylly helps produce raceAhead and assisted in the preparation of today's summaries.


There was a major shift after I directed, from the network and the powers that be, who saw me as an artistic voice. I never saw myself as an artist, and when I was given the power to direct, I showed myself what I could do. That’s when everything changed.
—Janet Mock

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