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“Less Than 1%” | The Other Pandemic pt. 2 By Lord Mic

Black America is in an absolute economic State of Emergency! To not immediately acknowledge then address the inevitable and impending collapse of Black communities is not just naive but outright thickheaded…bordering on recklessly irresponsible, considering the power we have to change it.

“Less Than 1%” is the literal space where Black businesses and communities are allowed to earn, profit, and to build their brands; within 1% of the majority. Whether information technology, healthcare, or the marketing and communications, Black vendors are participating in less than 1% of contracting opportunities with appropriate agencies and corporations across the board. The culprits of this perpetration range far and wide, and there’s an abundance of culpability to go around. We’ll get there.

But what does this really mean? Well, a quantified example for your consideration would be the 7 billion dollars that has been diverted from Black healthcare professionals in Illinois since 2011. I’m referring to the cumulative HFS minority procurement spend intended to offset the already identified egregious disparity. Please check my OpEd “We’re Not Leaving $840Million on the Table (Nov 19’)” for the full story.

We have to consider how much positive impact that kind of capital flow can have on Black businesses and communities? What if they could harness the same type of opportunities from 10 other industries besides healthcare? We contend that, in conjunction with other efforts, it could reverse an economically catastrophic paradigm in short order!

Today’s message is about the other pandemic, the less than 1%.

But what makes this an economic catastrophe for Black communities in the first case? Well, the State Black Chamber has worked closely with every level of governmental agency, and every size corporation across Illinois and have found definitively that Black vendors are experiencing radically disproportionate and dangerous disparities in essentially every procurement and contracting space. In fact, it’s quite common, and ironically widely accepted, that this egregious disparity between Black and White vendors exists, and the practice is actually sustained.

This practice holds true across the board, from cities and counties to public park districts on the local and municipal level to State agencies like IDOT, HFS, and countless universities and colleges across Illinois…and that, frankly, is only the beginning. This culture is tantamount to barring Black businesses from participating in the opportunities that they have a right to share in, and that has Black communities in peril!

In fact, these agencies are so routinely granted waivers for not meeting federally mandated participation goals that the lack of intentionality to perform good faith efforts to remove disparate barriers has become habitual.

A new study from Northwestern University utilizing data on consumer finances from the Federal Reserve to track changes in family wealth from 2004 to 2016 found that for every one dollar of accumulated wealth that White families have, Black families have just one cent. Yes, one brown penny!

So, how do we create change? Well, we have two direct answers to that:

1) The Chamber contends that Black businesses were very intentionally left out…which led to a habit of being left out…which created a culture of being left out. The only way to address this is by creating an atmosphere and platform for Black businesses that is intentionally inclusive…which will lead to habitual inclusiveness…which will create a culture of inclusiveness.

2) RELATIONSHIPS + TRANSACTIONS = TRANSFORMATIONS

Yes, the State Black Chamber is always beating this drum but we know it to be one of the most powerful pieces to move the agenda! The “Sheltered Market” is procurement law, passed by the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) Council decades ago with the Illinois State Black Chamber leading the charge, that can and needs to be utilized to begin correcting these long-identified disparities. We were able to revive and mobilize it against all the odds but we need our Black Caucus and Black businesses to rally around this law and to champion new and more Sheltered Markets in more industries.

More simply put, we need the General Assembly to enforce this piece of procurement law. Then, we need businesses to realize the opportunities that this procurement law creates!

Last but certainly not least, substantially more investment in Black communities is paramount, as the wealth that’s been stolen from Black Americans and communities for centuries — starting with slavery is nearly incalculable but incredibly real. Addressing this racial economic inequality is a critical part of the solution. We absolutely need to rethink how we can start to tangibly reduce wealth inequality, understanding that it’s not going to be quick or easy and that it will require radical and timely action. There’s certainly no nominal threshold that could approximate an “equal share” of America…but that is precisely what Black Americans deserve and require to begin economically and organically healing. We need tangible and irrevocable ownership in our country!

The Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce will be launching a program to systematically targeting specific sectors of industry to measurably move our constituents in the right direction by utilizing our proven capacity building stratagem, beginning with “Black Media” Marketing & Communications which spans the litany of traditional & contemporary media outlets, reporters/journalists/b(v)loggers & public relations practitioners as well as television & film etc.

Black Media is a lucrative bastion of industry for Black businesses and entrepreneurs as well as a still sleeping juggernaut in terms of defining, ultimately determining, and more importantly forecasting, the Black condition.

We will hold a major press conference officially announcing our campaign and articulating more of our program and plan. If you feel that you could serve a role in developing and deploying this multi-faceted project, particularly in your region, please feel free to reach out in these early stages. Your input is important, appreciated and welcome!

Regarding a Proposed Graduated Income Tax System

“We all know that state taxes influence how businesses operate,” said Larry Ivory, President and CEO of the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce. “It is clear by this study that with the proposed graduated income tax, business sectors that largely employ women and minorities would be hit the hardest, and jobs will be eliminated. Illinois already has the fifth-highest corporate income tax rate in the country. Why would we want to jump up to the second-highest rate in the country?

An independent analysis conducted by Berkeley Research Group in conjunction with Ariel R. Belasen, Professor at SIUE, shows that passage of the graduated income tax this November will have devastating consequences, shrinking Illinois’ economy by nearly $2 billion, increasing consumer costs by $332 million, leading to out-migration that would reduce household spending, and resulting in disproportionately more job losses in hospitals, restaurants and individual and family services that tend to employ more women and minorities. This is the worst possible time for a $3.4 billion tax hike on Illinois families and businesses.

President Ivory goes on to say, “Taxes are the number one issue that works against us in trying to recruit businesses and entrepreneurs in our state. So many of our businesses are already hurting because of COVID-19, especially the Black community. To disproportionately attack the sectors that provide so many jobs to our state with a tax hike is unfair and cruel to the hard-working men and women in these industries who need these jobs.”

Now is the time to demand the changes and we need you with us as we lead the charge!

Despite some cloudy days and a few hazy situations, the horizon is still bright for Illinois’ Black businesses and communities so stay tuned and stay engaged! Please know that the Chamber is here to help YOU position for success! Plugging in and beginning your journey of personal and professional growth and development is very important to us!

Get a bird’s eye view of what’s important to the Black business community by texting ILBCC to 22828 for a free subscription to the Chamber Business NewsJournal.

For more information on the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce visit the new www.ILBCC.org