A group of black-owned media companies are claiming General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra is “racist” because she has thus far not met with them.
The group, which includes Ebony magazine owner Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman and Allen Media Group owner Byron Allen, are demanding the car company devote five percent of its advertising budget to black-owned media companies, the Detroit Free Press reported.
According to the Michigan Chronicle, seven companies penned a letter to Barra that was published in the Sunday Free Press, saying in part:
We were seriously offended watching you stand on stage, after the death of George Floyd, saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ when you have refused to acknowledge us and you have consistently, over time and after multiple requests, refused to take a meeting with the largest Black Owned Media companies in America. Mary, the very definition of systemic racism is when you are ignored, excluded and you don’t have true economic inclusion.
One of the group arguing there is not “true economic inclusion”, Byron Allen, is estimated to have a net worth of $400 million, the website Wealthy Genius said.
More via the Free Press:
The ad says “less than 0.5% goes to media companies owned” by African Americans, calling that “horrendous, considering that we as African Americans make up approximately 14% of the population in America and we spend billions buying your vehicles.”
Allen said the group could recommend 14% of the budget be spent on advertising with Black-owned media companies, “that would be economic parity, we’re not even asking for parity, we’re asking for inclusion.”
Allen said the group attempted to meet with Barra “for the past five years,” “but Barra does not respond.”
He said the group emailed Barra two weeks ago and Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl responded, offering to meet with them.
That’s when they decided to take their grievances public.
“If you say status quo is OK, that’s wrong. That is racism. Let me be clear, that is racism. But if you get to the table and you lean in to effectuate change, then you are showing the world who you really are,” Allen told the paper.
“This is an opportunity. The numbers will never lie. You’re either doing business with Black-owned media or you’re not in a fair and equitable way.”
General Motors spokesman Pat Morrissey disputed the group’s 0.5 percent claim and said it spends more with black-owned media companies.
The Free Press noted after the death of George Floyd, Barra set out to make GM “the most inclusive company in the world,” and devoted $10 million to donate “to organizations that will support racial equality.”