Sean “Diddy” Combs on Thursday accused General Motors and corporate America of “exploiting” Black culture and “manipulating” Black people into accepting incremental progress instead of radical change.
“The same feet these companies use to stand with us in solidarity are the same feet they use to stand on our necks,” the record executive and former rapper wrote on his website Revolt. “No longer can Corporate America manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable action. Corporations like General Motors have exploited our culture, undermined our power, and excluded Black entrepreneurs from participating in the value created by Black consumers.”
Mr. Combs’ letter follows a statement by GM pledging to increase its partnerships with Black-owned media organizations after its CEO, Mary Barra, was accused by multiple leaders of Black-owned businesses of racism for initially refusing to meet with them and for not allocating more of GM’s advertising dollars with them.
GM has denied the racism allegation, calling it a “character assault” against Ms. Barra. In its statement Thursday, the company said it doubled its advertising spending with Black-owned media groups to 2% this year and will increase it to 4% next year, with an ultimate goal of reaching 8% by 2025.
In his letter, Mr. Combs said Black-owned media companies, including his own, “fights for crumbs” from companies like GM.
“When confronted by the leaders of several Black-owned media companies, General Motors (GM) listed my network, REVOLT, as an example of the Black-owned media it supports,” he wrote. “While REVOLT does receive advertising revenue from GM, our relationship is not an example of success. Instead, REVOLT, just like other Black-owned media companies, fights for crumbs while GM makes billions of dollars every year from the Black community.
“In 2019, brands spent $239 billion on advertising,” he continued. “Less than 1% of that was invested in Black-owned media companies. Out of the roughly $3 billion General Motors spent on advertising, we estimate only $10 million was invested in Black-owned media. Only $10 million out of $3 billion! Like the rest of Corporate America, General Motors is telling us to sit down, shut up and be happy with what we get.”
Mr. Combs ripped GM’s efforts at inclusivity as a “token investment,” adding, “if you love us, pay us!”
“We demand that Corporate America reinvest an equitable percentage of what you take from our community back into our community,” Mr. Combs wrote. “If the Black community represents 15% of your revenue, Black-owned media should receive at least 15% of the advertising spend. The same way you understand the power of our dollars, we understand our power to take them away from any corporation that doesn’t give us the economic inclusion we deserve. We are prepared to weaponize our dollars.”
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