By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
With the federal government spending a pittance of its advertising dollars with Black-owned media and President Biden demanding that agencies expand contracting opportunities for historically disadvantaged businesses, including those owned by women and people of color, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge has made a specific pledge to African American publishers and media company owners.
“I will take a look at it, and if [advertising spending] is where you say it is, we will change it,” Fudge declared following a question from National Newspaper Publishers Association President & CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis Jr. about the inequitable distribution of advertising dollars with the Black Press.
“You can hold me to that,” Fudge asserted.
Chavis, Washington Informer Publisher Denise Rolark Barnes, and media mogul Roland Martin all pressed Fudge and others during a Black Media Roundtable at HUD in Washington.
The federal government spends about $600 billion annually on consumer goods and services.
A small portion of that money goes to small businesses owned by women, minorities, and those otherwise disadvantaged.
The most recent Government Accountability Office study found that federal agencies spent more than $5 billion on advertising over five years, with just $51 million, or 1.02 percent, going to Black-owned businesses.
“It’s been on our minds,” said Beth Lynk, the assistant secretary of public affairs for HUD. “We are asking [all contractors] what is your spend? Not just Black reach, but Black ownership in the media.”
Adjoa Asamoah, the senior advisor for Racial Equity for the Office of the Secretary of HUD, called Fudge a “secretary of, with and for the people.”
“I had a conversation recently with the Deputy Secretary of HUD (Adrianne Todman) and we will increase our spend with Black and brown media,” Asamoah asserted.
“A couple of things. We are disrupting the present systems with disrupting how we do money. We recognize that the federal government is the largest consumer of goods and services and roughly 10 percent has traditionally gone to Black, Brown, and small, and disadvantaged businesses.”
“That’s not 10 percent each. We’ve been tasked by the President with leveraging the full power of the federal government’s procurement power.
“While ad spending directly is what we will look at, under Secretary Fudge we have looked at how we are spending our dollars and adjusted accordingly. Every single notice of funding opportunity that goes out this door, [the contractor] is required to state how you have demonstrated your ability to advance racial equity and what will you do in the future to advance racial equity. We are doing things differently.”