In a recent revelation, Coca-Cola’s longstanding financial sponsorship of Black Lives Matter (BLM) has come under scrutiny. Notably, the soda giant’s public acknowledgment of its BLM sponsorship has disappeared from its website. This move followed some BLM associates expressing support for Hamas in the wake of its latest confrontations.
Coca-Cola’s previous website layout showcased Sprite’s, a Coca-Cola subsidiary, donation of $500,000 to the Black Lives Matter Global Network. This was designated to bolster the group’s voter education initiatives and its Black Future Month program from February 2021. Aaliyah Shafiq, the brand lead, had emphasized Coca-Cola’s commitment to long-term change, insisting on the importance of “amplifying the voices” of the community for a better shared American future.
However, in the updated version of Coca-Cola’s site, while Shafiq’s statement remains intact, there’s a glaring omission. The entire section detailing Sprite’s $500,000 contribution has been removed.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz was quick to spot this change. He showcased the difference with two screenshots of Coca-Cola’s site, one depicting the BLM reference, and the other without. Cruz took to social media, asserting that merely altering the website doesn’t suffice. He demanded an apology, urging Coca-Cola to address the situation transparently.
The scrutiny was intensified following posts shared after the violent events in Israel. One such post from BLM Chicago showed a paraglider with a Palestinian flag. The image was captioned, “That is all that it is!” However, users were quick to shed light on the backdrop of this image, noting that Hamas militants had previously used paragliders to carry out a deadly attack in Israel. Although the post was eventually removed, BLM Chicago continued to express its firm support for the Palestinians.
Dr. Melina Abdullah, a BLM organizer from Los Angeles, voiced her stance saying that when a group has faced years of apartheid and immense violence, their resistance should be understood and not merely condemned.
Cruz further raised questions about other corporations’ support for BLM, naming several major donors, including Amazon, Apple, BlackRock, and Bank of America. He challenged these corporations on his podcast, questioning if they regretted backing what he termed as an “antisemitic organization.”
It remains to be seen how Coca-Cola and other corporate giants will navigate this evolving narrative and respond to the mounting public pressure.