Successful black American-owned business leaders unfairly targeted
Jack Brown

Dear Editor,

There is an old African proverb that captures one of the challenges that too many financially successful black-owned business leaders face today in America. That proverb is: Your earned riches may engender envy and jealous criticism, but be not dismayed by the foolishness of the envious.

Across the nation, as business owners are attempting to recover from the novel coronavirus pandemic, African-American business leaders, who have been defying the odds with their financial success, are often targeted by mainstream media and others who summarily and unfairly castigate them for their economic achievements. Is this syndrome racially motivated?

Former Congressman and past leader of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) Parren Mitchell (D-MD), 1922-2007, once said in defence of black business leaders: “There is a national systematic campaign to unfairly subjugate and to prevent the financial success of black American businesses.”

It appears that business leaders from communities of colour in the United States are being held to a different standard of business practice, ethics, and regulation. Such is the case, I believe, with respect to Jack Brown III, who was recently highlighted by The New York Times (The Times) because of what they say are personal financial profits that Brown has earned as result of his businesses providing shelters for New York City's (NYC) homeless.

The Times emphasised, “Since 2017, as [homelessness] has risen to record levels, the city has awarded more than [US]$352 million to a non-profit run by Mr Brown to operate shelters. The money is meant to help homeless people regain their footing in life, but it has benefited Mr Brown, too.”

Is The Times implying that there is something wrong or unethical about earning a financial profit from one's work and business? Brown's CORE Services Group comprising non-profits and for-profits have worked effectively in New York for over a decade.

Both non-profits and for-profits have to be run as successful businesses in order to be sustainable. Jack Brown has been a national leader in multiple black-owned businesses not only in NYC, but also in other cities where he has been effective in providing much-need services to the homeless and people “returning” to society after incarceration.

Investigative journalism has its rightful and respected space in our democracy, but it should always be balanced and free from racial prejudice. The Times piece on Jack Brown was full of unsubstantiated innuendo and one-sided reporting.

Those of us in America's black press are fully aware of the double standards and the racial stereotyping that cast unfair aspersions on black entrepreneurs who dare to strive to own legitimate multimillion-dollar businesses.

Sadly, many take the position that there are limits and ceilings, both politically and economically, that are determined by one's race. We do not agree. We will not submit.

Dr Benjamin F Chavis Jr

President and CEO

National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA)

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