Alicia Keys is an outspoken, powerful, and courageous leader, woman, and singer. The ‘No One’ singer announced on Thursday that she is launching a new initiative to raise a $1 billion fund to support small businesses owned by African-Americans. Keys announced the details of the initiative in an open letter to Billboard while explaining why she agreed to perform at the National Football League‘s Kickoff event for its 2020 season. “Today, I will be doing something I never thought I would do again” Keys wrote. “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.”
The NFL has received backlash over the years for its treatment toward Colin Kaepernick after he started participating in a silent protest during the national anthem by taking a knee. While the systemic racism that exists towards our Black community in the United States continues to show itself, Keys is dedicated to making a change. As for why she agreed to perform for the NFL- the league will be contributing to the new endowment fund.
Keys made the decision following the Black Lives Matter Movement that has continued to protest police brutality and murder since the killing of George Floyd. “We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Keys wrote. “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.” “The initial goal of $1 billion is to ensure a substantial commitment,” Keys explained. “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.”
Keys explained that the conversation about Black lives and businesses has to turn into direct action. “There is an urgent conversation that is happening across businesses about the importance of investing in Black America. I’m personally committed to holding corporations and institutions accountable, and in my conversations with the NFL, they reaffirmed their commitment to racial equity,” Keys added. “The prospect of true generational wealth for the Black community is long overdue and I’m grateful to express my purpose as an artist to advance that cause. I’ve been deeply inspired by the courage of Colin Kaepernick and the determination I have to see this through is meant to honor his commitment to social justice.”
Keys performed her new song “Love Looks Better” during the NFL Kickoff event on Thursday. Keys opened her appearance while playing a grand piano with a small band to introduce the song. “I think we got so busy, so used to flying so fast that we forgot. We forgot to look at each other, we forgot to stay with each other, listen to each other,” she said. “We forgot that my love looks better on you. So tonight, let’s make sure we take the time to remember.” She closed the performance with a very important statement- the word “VOTE” on the giant screen behind her.