By Landon Buford
R&B icon Alicia Keys has been busy in the studio. Ahead of her album release Alicia happening later this month, she just released her new single, “Love Looks Better,” which she recently performed at an NFL event to kick off the 2020 season.
But off the field, Keys and the NFL are partnering on something bigger than a moment: With the organization’s support, Keys launched a $1 billion fund to help support Black-owned businesses—the community among the hardest hit by the ongoing pandemic.
“We are already seeing the blatant injustices that are going on around us,” Keys says. “As an artist, I’m always thinking about how I can 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.”
Keys is looking to tap other industry leaders beyond the NFL to contribute to what she hopes will be a “multi-billion dollar endowment across business sectors.” Details about eligibility and allocation have not yet been disclosed.
Following backlash from the public claiming the organization wasn’t listening to players’ desires to protest against racial injustice, and a subsequent apology, this partnership is the NFL’s latest effort to demonstrate it’s playing a more active role in supporting racial justice initiatives.
In the meantime Keys has been advocating for social justice with both her pocketbook and her art. In June she released the song “Perfect Way To Die,” which touches on police violence, protesting and systemic racism.
While her $1 billion fund is a step in the right direction, Keys acknowledges that there’s a long way to go in the fight for racial equity and closing the wealth gap.
“Even with that it does not come close to closing the economic gap,” she says. “It’s time for sustainable action. It’s time to speak and document the truth about what Black Americans are facing and owed.”