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Orlando Weekly reports that while Publix employees are required to wear a mask when working in its stores, they are not allowed to wear masks saying "Black Lives Matter."

The story suggests that the company is getting some social media blowback because of it.

On the one hand, the company has donated $1 million  to the Urban League as a symbol of its support of civil rights initiatives.  CEO Todd Jones said he was "saddened and unsettled by any racial injustice or events" and added, "at Publix, we reject racism and discrimination of any kind … We benefit from being an inclusive company made up of individuals who look and think differently."

Critics suggest that these statements are inconsistent with the ban on masks saying "Black Lives Matter."

To be fair, though, the Publix uniform policy "does not permit non-Publix messaging on any worn item."

KC's View:
 

One of the points that I've been making here for the past few weeks is that while companies were saying all the right things and writing checks to various civil rights-related causes and institutions, there will be greater tests of their commitment to the issue - like the diversity of management, and the degree to which tolerance is extended in the marketplace.

I'm not questioning Publix's intentions in any way.  I think this scenario illustrates just how much of a tightrope this may be for some companies.  Unlike Starbucks, where the banning of masks seemed off-brand because of the company's progressive politics, I'm not sure anyone would make the same argument about Publix.

I also think this illustrates the degree to which some people differentiate between civil rights and Black Lives Matter, which is seen as politically divisive by some and, therefore, controversial.  I don't share that opinion - I think that Black Lives Matter's point is that they matter as much as white lives, not more … and that it is demonstrable that systemic discrimination works against that premise.

But I get the disconnect, and we certainly have to acknowledge it and then deal with it.