By MOLLIE FINCH BELT
The Dallas Examiner
Over the past several weeks, I’ve written a series of My life editorial columns. I started writing them to provide readers with information about my experiences as they relate to race and issues surrounding race throughout my lifetime – from a segregated society in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Dallas through the Civil Rights Movement in Dallas and Atlanta, Georgia to an integrated society.
I have seen many things change and get better for Blacks. At the same time, there are many things, such as institutional racism – also referred to as systemic racism – that still exist because the racial bias is so ingrained into the institution’s system, that it has become part of its policy. And like many Black-owned businesses, The Dallas Examiner has witnessed the effects of institutional racism.
The Dallas Examiner has a history of hiring qualified journalists and of producing a quality publication. The newspaper has won numerous awards, national, state and local from very prestigious associations including the National Newspaper Publishers Association, National Association of Black Journalists, Texas Publishers Association, Dallas Press Club and Texas Chapter of NAACP.
Additionally, the newspaper has received outstanding recognitions from the Texas Secretary of State for the Voter Roll Call on its website, https://www.dallasexaminer.com.
The Dallas Examiner is committed to informing the African community of news that will benefit them and make Dallas a better city.
We have published numerous special supplements to the newspaper. This is our eleventh year publishing a college guide, Putting the Pieces Together and the 11th year publishing a Black history supplement, Dallas Black History: Then and Now. Additionally, we have published several health supplements, two editions of Battling AIDS in Our Community, Probe (discussing health disparities in the Black community) and two issues of Healthy Balance (addressing mental illness in the Black community). Additionally, we published a Back-to-School supplement with pertinent information for parents. All of these supplements were published with little advertising dollars. However, they had valuable information for our community and were well read.
During the past 35 years, The Dallas Examiner has been blessed to have people work for the newspaper who had a variety of talents who have contributed significantly to the newspaper and its growth.
They have contributed much to the design, content and quality of the newspaper. There are two staff who have been with the newspaper the longest and are with us today. James C. Belt, III and Robyn H. Jimenez have each been with the newspaper over 18 years. Belt started working as a distributor and has worked his way up to vice president of advertising. Jimenez started as a receptionist and has worked her way up to vice president of production and editorial.
Without their contributions The Dallas Examiner would not be what it is today.
In spite of the quality of each publication, the fact that the newspaper has been certified as a Historically Underutilized Business by the State of Texas since the beginning of the program, the newspaper is certified as a Minority Business Enterprise, the newspaper’s circulation is continuously audited by an auditing firm and the newspaper is respected by the African American community in Dallas as being a credible source of information, advertisers do not see value in spending money to get their message to the African American community. Yet, they hire public relations firms to send press releases to publish free in the newspaper.
Publishing the newspaper has been challenging because of the difficulty we’ve experienced in getting advertising dollars. I blame institutional racism.
For 34 years, I have been actively involved in NNPA, serving on the executive board for six years. The historic organization consists of approximately 200 Black-owned and operated newspapers. We provide training for the publications.
NNPA markets the Black newspapers as a group to federal agencies and national companies. Yet, the struggle continues in securing enough advertising to consistently publish newspapers that provide pertinent information to the African American community, grow our editorial department and expand coverage of the news. As a Black association we continue to battle for advertising dollars.
This is because institutional racism unfortunately still exists today. It is not intentional in several cases. Many White people may not be familiar with it.
Blacks in many decision-making positions participate in it too. Some refer to them as “gatekeepers.” They want to assimilate into the predominate culture, and if their place of business contains hidden biases, they take on those same characteristics.
Policies have been written and programs implemented to provide equal opportunity for Blacks. Unfortunately, many of those policies are not working.
Certifications as HUB and MBE have been implemented, and in some instances have provided business opportunities for Black-owned businesses.
Personally, in addition to obtaining certifications for The Dallas Examiner, I have attended numerous workshops and conferences designed to increase business opportunities for Blacks. I attended Minority Enterprise Development Weeks in Washington, D.C. sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, my staff and I attended National Minority Supplier Development Council conferences, and I have testified in numerous state agency briefings.
I was recently told that in addition to being certified as a minority-owned business, we should become certified as a woman-owned business because companies have higher goals for women-owned businesses than minority-owned businesses.
So, in terms of business opportunities for Black-owned and operated newspapers, there is still a lot of room for equality and growth. We must continued to speak up when we witness racism of any kind, and work with each other to make changes each opportunity we get.
Mollie Finch Belt is the publisher of The Dallas Examiner and the daughter of the newspaper’s founder.