In 1969, President Richard Nixon, in response to the Black uprisings and the Civil Rights and Black Power movements of the 1960s, issued Executive Order 11458,1 which established a framework for developing a so-called “National Program for Minority Business Enterprise.” On the surface, one could have assumed that this and similar initiatives would have led to the economic uplift of Black Americans. Yet, it only served to quell the Black outcry for justice. It did so because it shifted the burden of crafting solutions from the federal government to the private sector and because the President never introduced legal and enforceable language precisely defining a “minority-owned business.”
In 1971, Nixon superseded Executive Order 11458 with Executive Order 11625,2 in which he introduced unspecific language such as “socially and economically disadvantaged persons.” In this order, he defined “minorities” as inclusive of, but “not limited to, Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Spanish-speaking Americans, American Indians, Eskimos, and Aleuts.” The “not limited to” phrasing further diluted the specific need for justice for the descendants of chattel slaves in the U.S. In addition, women as a general category would go on to be classified as “minorities” or “disadvantaged persons” as sex discrimination in hiring was addressed by President Lyndon Johnson’s Executive Order 11375,3 two years earlier.
As a result of these and other executive, legislative, and judicial actions from the 1960s forward, the lens through which the federal government views reparative economic justice and inclusion has been intentionally steered away from the descendants of chattel slavery to primarily white women.4,5 Many of these white women descend from slave owners and still hold the wealth and privilege extracted through slavery, Jim Crow, and redlining within their families and communities. This injustice has been further compounded up to the present day by the ever-expanding and increasingly ambiguous definition of “diversity” (BIPOC6being the most recent example) to include all persons who are not classified as straight, cisgender, white, and male.
From the civil rights era until today, “the categories of disadvantage [have] been loosely expanded over time.”7 As a result, both Democratic and Republican administrations have engaged in this
Nixonian Dodge where Black Americans are centered in rhetoric yet erased in policy. The Dodge has weaved its way through every manner of fiscal policy discussion and all executive, judicial, and legislative action in our government. Taking its cues from the government, the private sector has followed suit in its business and social practices.
In the present day, “Three in five Black workers work in frontline jobs such as service workers, laborers, operatives, and office and clerical workers.”8 Black Americans can no longer be relegated to a servant class but must instead be given full access and inclusion in all sectors of the economy.
Paradoxically, in recent history, a bipartisan political will has developed within the executive branch to address the needs of specific groups—except for when those needs are particular to the descendants of chattel slavery. It can be observed in the Trump administration with the paying of reparations to Guam residents for atrocities committed during World War II.9 One can also see it with Executive Order 13935,10 which established the White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative, and Executive Order 13872,11 which created both the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and the Pacific Islanders (AAPI) and the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Executive Order 13555,12 which renewed the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, was issued during the Obama-Biden administration and Executive Order 1351513 re-established the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Our people, whose struggle opened the door for the aforementioned groups to achieve the American dream, deserve no less recognition, specificity, and intentional policies that weave us into the fabric of the American economy at every level and in all sectors. All agencies, offices, and initiatives created through executive order that deal with discrimination in hiring and contracting must be reoriented through new executive action to address the specific need for the complete economic inclusion of Black Americans. These executive actions, along with Congress legislating where necessary, must be unambiguous and assure the full inclusion of Black Americans in the areas of business, finance, markets, hiring, lending, and grants.
The Biden-Harris administration’s “New Actions to Build Black Wealth and Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap”14 continues this tradition of Nixonian Dodges, including such language as “small, disadvantaged businesses (SDB)” and “economically underdeveloped and underserved communities.” The ADOS Advocacy Foundation rejects this plan in its entirety.
We require the following:
- The Biden-Harris administration must issue an impact statement showing the specific short- and long-term impact of the Biden-Harris action plans on Black Americans in regard to the racial wealth gap between white and Black Americans; not people of color, not BIPOC, not socially disadvantaged persons, not underserved communities—Black Americans.
- The Biden-Harris administration must issue an executive order recognizing the need for the specific economic uplift of Black Americans, like those issued for Hispanics and AAPIs. This order must create a permanent White House Initiative on Black Americans’ Economic Uplift and Full Economic Inclusion.
- The Biden-Harris administration must create a National Program for Black American Business Enterprise. In addition, the administration must audit the banks annually to measure fairness in lending practices and hold banks accountable for discriminating against Black American borrowers in denials, interest rates, fees, and penalties.
- The Biden-Harris administration must commit to providing grants and zero to low-interest loans specifically targeted to Black-owned businesses of all types (including, but not limited to, sole proprietorships, single-member LLCs, and 1099s) to keep existing businesses open and to help reopen businesses that are now closed due to the disproportionate economic fallout from COVID-19.15
- 15% of SBA loans must go to Black-owned businesses. These loans must be sufficient for Black-owned businesses to scale and employ workers. Such loans should not be secured by collateral, as the government—through policies such as redlining—has intentionally devalued Black-owned property. These loans must be federally backed and forgivable.
- 15% of government contracts must go to Black-owned businesses.
- 15% of the government’s media expenditures must go to Black-owned media companies.
- The Biden-Harris administration must create an Office within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau specifically for Black Americans. It must be equipped with the enforcement tools to deal with the specific history of and the present-day relationship between predatory capital and the Black American community. Offices such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and others that enforce anti-discriminatory practices in hiring and contracting must be reoriented with new language recognizing Black American workers and Black-owned businesses as protected categories.
- Any public-private partnerships that the Biden-Harris administration engages in must include a commitment by private partners to take affirmative action to reach parity within the next 20 years in the recruiting, mentoring, training, hiring, promotion, and retention of Black American workers at all levels, from entry-level to upper management.
- Companies in the technology and finance sectors must reach a goal of having at least 15% of their workforce composed of Black Americans at all levels, from entry-level to upper management, in 20 years. The government must amend the existing tax law to offer these businesses specific tax incentives, like the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC), that encourage the hiring of ex-offenders to incentivize the hiring and retention of Black American workers.
- Tech and finance companies can no longer be geographically isolated on the coasts or shipped offshore but must include the South as part of their office expansions as the South is where most Black Americans live.
- As Black Americans are making their way into investing in the stock market at higher rates than ever before,16 we require that capital gains taxes for retail investors be eliminated for households with an income of less than $46,000 per year which, according to census data, was roughly the median income for African American families in 2019.17 Any losses incurred in the stock market by eligible families must qualify for tax write-offs.
- Nixon, Richard. “Executive Order 11458: Prescribing Arrangements for Developing and Coordinating a National Program for Minority Business Enterprise” Minority Business Development Agency, March 5, 1969. https://archive.mbda.gov/page/executive-order-11458.html.
- Nixon, Richard. “Executive Order 11625: Prescribing additional arrangements for developing and coordinating a national program for minority business enterprise.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, October 13, 1971. https://www.archives.gov/federal-register/codification/executive-order/11625.html.
- Johnson, Lyndon. “Executive Order 11375-Amending Executive Order No. 11246, Relating to Equal Employment Opportunity.” Executive Order 11375-Amending Executive Order No. 11246, Relating to Equal Employment Opportunity | The American Presidency Project, October 13, 1967. https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/executive-order-11375-amending-executive-order-no-11246-relating-equal-employment
- Crenshaw, Kimberlé W. “Framing Affirmative Action”, 105 Mich. L. Rev. First Impressions 123, 2006 https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr_fi/vol105/iss1/4.
- Massie, Victoria M. “White Women Benefit Most from Affirmative Action – and Are among Its Fiercest Opponents.” Vox. Vox, May 25, 2016. https://www.vox.com/2016/5/25/11682950/fisher-supreme-court-white-women-affirmative-action
- Moore, Antonio, and Yvette Carnell. “BIPOC Explained – Why Was It Created?” YouTube. YouTube, July 24, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbei6pvOuUk.
- Baradaran, Mehrsa. “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.” Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019. p. 225
- Hancock, Bryan, Jackie Wong, Lareina Yee, James Manyika, and Monne Williams. “Race in the Workplace: The Black Experience in the US Private Sector.” McKinsey & Company. McKinsey & Company, March 10, 2021. https://www.mckinsey.com/featured-insights/diversity-and-inclusion/race-in-the-workplace-the-black-experience-in-the-us-private-sector#.
- Hofschneider, Anita. “Guam Residents Compensated for War Atrocities Decades Later.” ABC News. ABC News Network, February 27, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/Lifestyle/wireStory/islanders-suffered-1940s-war-atrocities-guam-paid-69250203.
- Trump, Donald. “Executive Order 13935: White House Hispanic Prosperity Initiative.” Federal Register, July 9, 2020. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/14/2020-15338/white-house-hispanic-prosperity-initiative.
- Trump, Donald. “Executive Order 13872: Economic Empowerment of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” Federal Register, May 13, 2019. https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/05/16/2019-10398/economic-empowerment-of-asian-americans-and-pacific-islanders.
- Obama, Barack. “Executive Order 13555–White House Initiative On Educational Excellence For Hispanics.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, October 19, 2010. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2010/10/19/executive-order-13555-white-house-initiative-educational-excellence-hisp.
- Obama, Barack. “Executive Order 13515 – Asian American and Pacific Islander Community.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, October 14, 2009. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/executive-order-asian-american-and-pacific-islander-community.
- The White House. “FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Build Black Wealth and Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap.” The White House. The United States Government, June 1, 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/06/01/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-announces-new-actions-to-build-black-wealth-and-narrow-the-racial-wealth-gap/.
- Washington, Kemberley. “Covid-19 Has Had A Disproportionate Financial Impact On Black Small Businesses.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, June 3, 2021. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/personal-finance/covid19-financial-impact-on-black-businesses/.
- Christoforous, Alexis. “More Black Americans Became First Time Investors in 2020 than Any Other Year: Survey.” Yahoo! Yahoo!, March 1, 2021. https://www.yahoo.com/now/more-black-americans-became-first-time-investors-in-2020-than-any-other-year-survey-190548196.html.
- U.S. Census Bureaus. “Poverty Rates for Blacks and Hispanics Reached Historic Lows in 2019.” The United States Census Bureau, April 14, 2021. https://www.census.gov/library/stories/2020/09/poverty-rates-for-blacks-and-hispanics-reached-historic-lows-in-2019.html#:~:text=In%202019%2C%20median%20household%20income,and%20%2498%2C174