Black people are dying, and they are killing Black business

Harry Alford and Kay DeBow
Harry Alford and Kay DeBow

 

By HARRY C. ALFORD and KAY DEBOW

Beyond the Rhetoric

 

Black people are dying at an alarming rate from complications stemming from COVID-19. Black people are dying at a higher rate.

Fourteen Black people are dead in Washington, D.C. of COVID-19 related deaths according to NBCWashington.com.

As of March 3, Blacks made up almost half of Milwaukee County’s 945 cases and 81% of its 27 deaths in a county whose population is 26% Black, according to propublica.org.

In Michigan, Blacks have made up 40% of deaths but the Black population is only 14%.

During New York State’s briefing today, government representatives declined to give deaths by race citing the necessity to get the figures from the coroner.

Black people are refusing to wear masks and refusing to follow the government’s order of social distancing due to historic interactions with government. But we won’t blame the victims. Historical racism has created an-

– environment of health crisis for the Black population including hypertension, heart disease and diabetes.

The fish market in the district, The Wharf, was closed due to hundreds of, mainly Black, people patronizing the establishments and therefore not practicing social distancing.

So, what else is dying in the Black communities? Black businesses.

The government’s handling of the Corona Virus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act reminds us of Hurricane Katrina in terms of Black business survival. The first thing that is thrown out are federally mandated Black participation goals. You have the inflated no bid contract, so now how do you make the most money from it?  Get the affirmative action laws, Executive Order 11246, waived so that you don’t have this inclusion thing and equal opportunity in your way.  Rake off as much profit from the top as you can and deliver in the cheapest manner available.  This is no good.

So here we go! Look at this March 17 memo from the Department of Labor to:

all contracting agencies of the federal government subject:

Contracts for Coronavirus Relief Efforts In view of the special circumstances in the national interest presented by the novel coronavirus outbreak, and consistent with agency practice relating to emergency responses, I have decided to grant a limited exemption and waiver from some of the requirements of the laws administered by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. OFCCP enforces Executive Order 11246, as amended, Section 503 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 503), as amended, and Section 4212 of the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act, as amended, which require that Federal contracting agencies include in all covered supply & service and construction contracts an equal opportunity clause. OFCCP regulations authorize me to exempt contracts from requiring the inclusion of any part of the equal opportunity clause in any specific contract when I deem that special circumstances in the national interest so require, when it is impracticable to act upon requests for exemptions individually, and where such waiver will contribute to convenience in the administration of the authorities enforced by OFCCP. 41 CFR 60-1.5(b)(1), 60-300.4(b)(1), and 60-741.4(b)(1). The exemption and waivers granted herein relate to obligations under EO 11246, Section 503, and VEVRAA. Federal contracting agencies may utilize the following equal opportunity clauses in covered contracts entered into specifically to provide coronavirus relief. Accordingly, the EEO clauses in FAR sections may be modified as follows: As a preamble to the insertion of 52.222-26: Notice: The following terms of this clause are waived for this contract: subparagraph (c)(2), (c)(3), (c)(4), (c)(5)(ii), (c)(6), (c)(8), and the phrase “on-site compliance evaluations and” in (c)(9).

As a preamble to the insertion of 52.222.35: In short, this exemption and waiver extends to all affirmative action obligations of supply and service and construction contracts, and other obligations as specified in the FAR clauses above. The exemption and waivers do not apply to the processing of complaints of discrimination under 41 CFR 60-1.21-1.24, 41 CFR 60-300.61 and 41 CFR 60-741.61. The exemptions and waivers also do not exempt a covered contractor from their obligation to comply with other federal, state and local civil rights laws. I am granting this exemption and waiver for a period of three months, from March 17 to June 17, subject to an extension should special circumstances in the national interest so require. This exemption and waiver pertain only to the three programs administered by OFCCP and should not be interpreted as applicable to any other programs or laws administered by the Department of Labor.

We must defend affirmative action by all means. There can be no shortcuts.

 

Harry Alford is the co-founder, president and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Kay DeBow is the co-founder, executive vice president of the Chamber.  They can be reached through halford@nationalbcc.org, kdebow@nationalbcc.org or http://www.nationalbcc.org.

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