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How Black business development programs came to be

Harry C. Alford | 6/6/2013, 6 a.m.

Per the Supreme Court, it must be shown the level of discrimination for each group. These Disparity Studies track the disparate impact, if any, for each group. From the study, goals are established for the discriminated group. Often these studies will show no disparity with women, Native Americans and sometimes with Hispanics and Asians. I have yet to find a bona-fide disparity study that shows no discrimination for Blacks. These studies are to be updated every five years. Disparity Studies are good things and court proof. If your city, county, state has no study done then they are not in accordance with the law—Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Don’t tolerate this! They are violating federal law.

Many state-run universities think they are exempt from this. They are nonprofits, and under the supervision of the applicable state government. They must comply and either do their own disparity study or follow the state’s study. They should be challenged.

San Diego did a solid study, but was still sued by the Associated General Contractors of California. The suit had no standing as San Diego’s process was correct and White contractors could prove no real damage. There are numerous lawsuits from time to time, but if the entity has its program justified by a disparity study it will win—all the time.

The problem we have is that there is no real enforcement of Title VI. Many will put the program in place but will not aggressively end the discrimination. Elected officials won’t hold the procurement offices accountable. They must put their “feet to the fire.” Finally, the only way these programs are going to work is if we, the people, get involved. Stop settling on mediocrity and end any proven discrimination. The person responsible for Title VI enforcement is the U.S. Attorney General. Don’t hold your breath. Get involved. Dr. King did not die for us to ignore this opportunity.

Alford is the president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce®. Website: www.nationalbcc.org. Email: halford@nationalbcc.org.

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