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A high profile name has come forward to pledge financial support not just to groups working towards social justice, but also to help rebuild Minnesota’s riot-torn Twin Cities. Target, whose headquarters is in Minneapolis, has announced that it will support its long-standing partners like the National Urban League and the African American Leadership Forum. They also say they will build new alliances across the country, and provide free consulting services to people of color whose businesses might have suffered after recent riots. All told, Target has pledged to spend as much as $10 million into building up local Black-owned businesses and to help fight against racial injustice (via Star Tribune). 

“Target stands with Black families, communities and team members,” the company’s CEO, Brian Cornell said. “As we face an inflection point in Minneapolis and across the country, we’re listening to our team, guests and communities, committed to using our size, scale and resources to help heal and create lasting change” (via Pioneer Press).

Corporate America has added its clout to call for social change

The move is newsworthy, because while Corporate America loves branding and advertising, the big names that try to insert themselves into the national conversation on any given day usually become deafeningly silent when controversial issues come to the fore.

As Target has demonstrated, this time seems to be different. In a break with the past, larger brands are joining their smaller counterparts and taking a stand against racism. Nike, Reebok, and Adidas have been using social media to send messages calling for inclusiveness and an end to racial injustice. Their voices join those of smaller companies like makeup brand Glossier, which recently pledged $1 million to fight racial injustice and to support Black businesses, and ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s, where the fight for racial justice is listed as a core value for the company (via AdWeek).

Target has a history of supporting the Minneapolis police

The contribution might come as a surprise to some, because Target’s relationship with residents in its home community has never been cozy. The chain has not only had hiring discrimination lawsuits raised against it, but Target also has a history of supporting Minneapolis’ controversial local police force (via AdWeek).

In 2004, Target donated $300,000 to the city’s police department to set up surveillance cameras throughout downtown Minneapolis. The cameras were then placed to create what was called the city’s safe zone. Target is also known to lend its high-tech anti-shoplifting technology to the police free of charge when it is needed, particularly on high-profile cases. When Target’s philanthropic relationship with the police was made public in 2011, questions were raised about the propriety of the direct donations, and Target VP Brad Brekke had to come out to say Target had offered the financial help “as a commitment to them [the police] and the community” (via MPR).

Those circumstances may or may not justify the looting that took place in the Target store on Minneapolis’ Lake Street, but does go some way in explaining the anger that exploded against the store as the protests over George Floyd’s death erupted across the country.

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