Former 'Grey's Anatomy' Star Calls on Blacks to Protest with One-Day Boycott

Is this a viable solution against police brutality


By Sheryl Estrada

Isaiah Washington

Isaiah Washington, a former star of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” is urging African Americans to protest the recent police-related deaths of Black men with a one-day boycott, which entails staying home from work.

Following the deaths of Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on September 16, and Keith Scott in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday that resulted in nights of civil unrest, Washington posted the following Facebook message calling for a Monday, September 26 boycott:

Washingtonwas dismissed from “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2007 for a homophobic slur against a cast member. He didapologizeandjoined the NOH8 campaign. Washingtonreturned to the TV show for guest appearance in 2014. The film “Blackbird” was also released in 2014, in which heplays the sympathetic father of a talented teen singer who is gay and struggling with it in a small Southern Baptist town.

Washington has promoted the hashtag #StayAtHomeSeptember262016on social media.It’s uncertain from the responses on Twitterwhether the boycott will be widespread.

Some Twitter users expressed support:

While a Twitter user noticed a lack of support:

One commented on a lack of diversity in her office:

The date of September 26 is also significant because the first presidential debate between Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton and Republican candidate Trump will take place.

When is a Boycott Successful

Most scholars consider the Montgomery Bus Boycott a model of a successful boycott. It began on Dec. 1, 1955, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Without the fares of African American customers, the bus company of Montgomery faced probable bankruptcy. The boycott lasted for 381 days.

Months before Parks’ actions a number of African American women in Montgomery also refused to give up their seats to white patrons and were arrested, including 15-year-old Claudette Colvin. When Parks, a secretary to the president of the NAACP’s Montgomery chapter, was arrested, the civil rights organization considered her the right person to move this strategy forward. However, it was the case, in which Colvin was aplaintiff, Browder v. Gayle, that ended up in a federal court in February 1956. It was around this case that the Supreme Court declared bus segregation unconstitutional in December 1956.

The bus boycott was part of an established movement, with dedicated activism and support of leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., during a time when Americans were pushing for change. It was systematic, with an agenda, rather than symbolic.

What Can Companies Do Create Dialogue

Some companies are recognizing the impact current events are having on their employees and creating opportunities for discussions.

In July, following the police-related deaths of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, and the killings of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, PwC’sTim Ryan, the newly appointed U.S. chairman, launched a company-wide discussion on race on July 21. The discussion included diversity forums on Twitter and Snapchat.(PwC isNo. 5on the 2016DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity list.)

Related Story: Confronting Nation’s Racial Turmoil is Business Imperative

The company estimates hundreds of employees and managers from all regions participated in the discussion.

“It was shocking how many people said they feared being pulled over when they didn’t have their suit on,” Ryan said.

A PwC Black male professional referred to his business suit and tie as his “cape” because when he wore them he felt safe.

“For most of the white professionals, including me, we never understood that,” Ryan said

If a company wants diversity, they need to promote diverse dialogue, he said.

Related Story: Troubled Times: Should Diversity Leaders Stay Silent

At Sodexo (No. 6),Rohini Anand, the company’s senior vice president of corporate responsibility and global chief diversity officer,sent an email toSodexoemployees working in a cross section of diversity functions expressing concern and resolve in the midst of racial tensions around the country.

According to Jodi Davidson, the company’s director, diversity & inclusion initiatives,company officials have been engaged in high-level plans to do more internally to promote further discussion and understanding.

Davidson said in July that Sodexo is in the process of:

– designing race relations communications/programming to include leadership messages

– creating a toolkit with resources

– holding dialogue sessions and webinar series

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) can also openly discuss issues regarding race. Davidson said Sodexo’s Employee Business Resource Groups (EBRGs), as well as INclusion commUNITY, Regional INclusion Ambassadors, Spirit of Mentoring Implementation Team and Diversity Learning Lab facilitators, are also involved in facilitating discussion.

At EY (No. 3), Steve Howe, U.S. chairman and managing partner for EY Americas, took to Twitter and also sent an internal email to the entire EY workforce the day after the five Dallas police officers were shot.

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