Black-founded haircare brand Shea Moisture announced a new social justice coalition on Tuesday that will make its first move this June by donating $100,000 to activists.
In response to the protests following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis and other police killings of unarmed Black Americans, Shea Moisture will choose five social justice activists to be awarded $20,000 individual grants, announcing the names in early July.
The company joins several brands that announced this week and over the weekend that they back up statements of support for the Black community with money and other actionable steps.
Cara Sabin, CEO of Shea Moisture and Sundial Brands—which also owns emerge, Nubian Heritage, nyakio, and MCJW and was acquired by Unilever in 2017—announced the program on Instagram May 31.
“Reinvesting in our own communities has always been our driving force. Now more than ever, it’s imperative for us to commit resources toward driving progress and address the traumas and injustices we face,” Sabin said. “We are having the hard conversations, while also ensuring that our community knows we are creating a safe space and a platform to drive change. SheaMoisture will continue to amplify the voices of our community at a time when they want to be heard, seen and more importantly, valued.”
In an Instagram Live session with Sabin and several guests, Sabin made it clear that joining the fight against police brutality and harassment in the Black community is far more than just a branding strategy—it’s personal. Sabin shared a childhood memory of a police officer entering her family’s home “to harass my family.”
“For me it was brought up trauma that … I had buried deep down,” Sabin said. “What left an indelible impression on me was seeing my father have to make himself small and deferential as the officer was in our space with his hand on his pistol.”
Sabin then shared an especially horrific—yet all too common—memory of her mother being held at gunpoint on the ground by police while at work as a realtor in an incident in which she was mistaken for someone else. “When you have those things … when something like George Floyd happens, it recalls all of that trauma,” said Sabin.
Later in the Instagram Live video, Sabin was joined by political advocate Angela Rye, attorney Tanya Miller, community activist Tiffany Loftin, Dr. Thema Bryant and Men Thrive creator Jeff Johnson.
The brand is using its new “This Has to Stop” campaign to engage consumers and ask them directly for guidance on the new grant program. Shea Moisture said it’s looking to issue grants to activists working in the areas of mental health, legal services, voting initiatives and training and education for mobilizing political action groups, but is open to community feedback.
Like several other companies, Shea Moisture announced the donations on the heels of another massive donation—$1 million— to efforts related to the financial crisis stemming from Covid-19. Shea Moisture’s Community Commerce Fund announced in April was aimed at women of color entrepreneurs and minority small business owners.