*Byron Allen and several Black leaders of major media companies are accusing General Motors CEO Mary Barra of being racist for refusing to meet with them.
EURweb previously reported that Allen fired off letters of intent to major ad brands in which he warned of plans to take legal action against them if they don’t support Black-owned media.
Allen is calling on ad agencies to allocate a minimum of 2% of their budgets to Black-owned media or face legal action. The full-page ad on page 3A in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press accuses Barra of refusing to meet with them “consistently, over time and after multiple requests.” Allen is asking Barra for an hour-long Zoom meeting, or the alternative, her resignation.
The ad is signed by the heads of the seven Black-owned media companies including rapper and actor Ice Cube, who co-founded pro-basketball league BIG3, Allen is head of Allen Media Group, and former NBA player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman, who bought Ebony Media last year.
Below is the open letter to General Motors CEO Mary Barra that was published in the Detroit Free Press (March 28, 2021):
General Motors Chairman and CEO Mary Barra refuses to sit down with Black Owned Media Companies
Why??? 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.
General Motors spends billions of dollars in advertising and less than 0.5% goes to Black Owned Media (not to be confused with Black Targeted Media). This is horrendous, considering that we as African Americans make up approximately 14% of the population in America and we spend billions buying your vehicles. Mary, you have asked us to meet with your Chief Marketing Officer, Deborah Wahl. We have absolutely no interest in that because when Deborah was Chief Marketing Officer of McDonald’s, in our opinion, Black Owned Media was, once again, severely neglected, minimized and discriminated against. To be clear, Black Owned Media and not minority owned, because minority includes white women and large corporations like General Motors can hide behind and tout their minority records while continuing not to do business with Black Owned Media companies.
Mary, true leaders must lean in and personally address the real issues in our society and in business. We are publicly asking you to stop the systemic racism by General Motors against Black Owned Media companies. We are requesting a one hour Zoom meeting with you and several of your key board members and us, the largest Black Owned Media companies in America, so we can resolve this very important issue and have a long-term partnership that’s mutually beneficial for General Motors and the African American consumers. Mary, we and others firmly believe that if you continue to hold the position that Black Owned Media doesn’t deserve meaningful economic inclusion and we are not worth meeting with, then you should resign, effective immediately.
The ad is signed by Allen, Cube, Bridgeman, Roland Martin, Todd Brown, founder of Urban Edge Networks, Don Jackson, founder of Central City Productions, and Earl ‘Butch’ Graves, president and CEO of Black Enterprise.
General Motors responded to the group’s allegations of racism in a statement: “General Motors aspires to be the most inclusive company in the world, and that includes how we allocate media spend. We have increased our planned spending with both diverse-owned and diverse-dedicated media across our family of brands,” per the statement.
“Additionally, we continue to develop and advance initiatives like the Chevrolet “Real Talk, Real Change” platform and support projects like “More than That with Gia Peppers,” where we’ve partnered with the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters on a content series for Black American listeners produced and distributed by underrepresented businesses. In this same spirit, we will continue to have an open dialogue with Mr. Allen,” the statement continued.