Black media owners call General Motors CEO ‘racist,’ automaker responds

Black media owners call General Motors CEO 'racist,' automaker responds
Roland Martin (Photo credit: Germelro Griffin for rolling out)

Ice Cube, Roland Martin, Bryon Allen and several other major Black-owned media owners took out a full-page ad in Michigan’s largest newspaper calling General Motors’ CEO a “racist” because the company refuses to meet with them about advertising.

The seven Black media companies allege in the Detroit Free Press ad that GM boss Mary Barra refused to meet with them “consistently, over time and after multiple requests.” They are demanding an hour-long Zoom meeting with Barra over the reported minuscule advertising dollars allocated to Black media in proportion to their White media counterparts.

“You stand on stage, after the death of George Floyd, saying, ‘Black Lives Matter,’ when you have refused to acknowledge us,” the ad says about Barra, according to the Detroit Free Press and Variety magazine. “The very definition of systemic racism is when you are ignored, excluded and you don’t have true economic inclusion.”

General Motors, which owns major American car brands Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC and Buick, adamantly denies the company is racist and told the Free Press that they plan to increase advertising with minority media companies in 2021.

“We have increased our planned spending with both diverse-owned and diverse-dedicated media across our family of brands,” GM spokesperson Pat Morrissey told the Free Press.

The full-page ad was signed by the following Black-owned media companies:

  • Byron Allen, the founder, chairman and CEO of Allen Media Group;
  • Ice Cube, who owns BIG3, Cubevision and CWBA;
  • Roland Martin, the CEO of Nu Vision Media, Inc.;
  • Earl “Butch” Graves Jr., president and CEO of Black Enterprise;
  • Junior Bridgeman, a former NBA star who recently bought Ebony Media;
  • Todd F. Brown, founder of Urban Edge Networks and HBCU League Pass;
  • Don Jackson, founder, chairman and CEO of Central City Productions;

The ad also accuses GM of appropriating less than 0.5 percent of GM’s advertising budget on Black-owned media companies. They called the statistic “horrendous, considering that we as African Americans make up approximately 14 percent of the population in America and we spend billions buying your vehicles.”

Morrissey told Variety that GM has more initiatives underway to promote discussion surrounding race.

“General Motors aspires to be the most inclusive company in the world, and that includes how we allocate media spend,” Morrissey said in a statement emailed to Variety. “We will continue to have an open dialogue with Mr. Allen.”

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