Byron Allen, the owner of the Weather Channel, took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press Sunday calling General Motors CEO Marry Barra racist.
Allen, along with rapper Ice Cube and several owners of Black-owned media companies allege Barra has refused to meet with them “consistently, over time and after multiple requests.”
“General Motors spends billions of dollars in advertising and less than 0.5% goes to Black Owned 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,” the ad states.
“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.”
The letter is signed by Allen, Cube, Roland Martin, Todd Brown, founder of Urban Edge Networks, Don Jackson, founder of Central City Productions, Earl ‘Butch’ Graves, president and CEO of Black Enterprise, and Junior Bridgeman of Ebony Media.
The ad ran in the same city where GM’s headquarters are based and where Allen calls home. According to the letter, the group has been trying to line up a meeting with Barra for five years to discuss how they could collect more of the company’s advertising dollars, but Barra has never responded.
When the group emailed Barra two weeks ago, she again sidestepped them and GM’s Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl responded saying she would meet with the group. That prompted the full-page ad from the group.
Amid the Black Lives Matter protests last summer, Barra wrote a letter to all employees saying she will commission and chair an inclusion advisory board and donated $10 million to organizations that support racial equity.
Barra has noted in the past that GM does advertising with “minority-owned businesses,” but as the ad notes those are often run by white women.
Allen has taken several large companies to court over their lack of inclusion and diversity. Allen reached settlements with Charter Communications and Comcast Cable in recent months after filing racial discrimination lawsuits against them.