In a scathing yet poignant email all of South Carolina black weekly publishers declined to attend Buttigieg’s invitation to his black media roundtable. Apparently, Buttigieg’s camp planned this South Carolina Black Media Roundtable in much the same way they created his Douglass Plan, with very little input from black stakeholders.
The email stated;
“We intend to boycott the roundtable due to the economic inequality shown towards coalition members. Despite the policy positions outlined in Mayor Pete’s Douglass Plan, his campaign’s actions towards members of the black media have been inconsistent and do not reflect a sincere commitment to adhere to the policies within the plan.”
“We declined the invitation because it was not sincere and the motive behind it was disingenuous. To plan a black media roundtable without any input from black media is just like developing a plan that seeks to uplift and empower black Americans without getting input from our black leaders and organizations, it really shows the audacity of white privilege.” Said Harry Hunter, President of the 2020 SC Black Media Coalition and Owner of Momentum Digital Network.
Every four years or so, elected white Democrats that don’t represent South Carolina, who have never even visited our state, come to our churches, and visit our HBCUs and tell us their plans of how they’re going to make life better for black people in America and that’s why we should vote for them.
But, this year, Buttigieg took it a step further and introduced the Douglass Plan.
The 22-page document is presented as “a comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems combined with an equally intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans.” On page after page, the plan outlines very specific proposed steps to address inequities that have plagued black communities for generations.
Yet, when the time comes to implement the plan and remaining committed to the issues prioritized by black communities, the Buttigieg campaign has already shown its hand and proven that the plan is little more than a guile facade and feeble attempt to win black votes.
The duplicity in the concerns stated in the plan became evident when the 2020 SC Black Media Coalition presented the campaign with an opportunity to make a real investment in South Carolina’s black-owned media outlets and prove that he respects black voters enough to reach them via media vehicles within the state’s black communities. Instead of seeing value in these outlets and investing in them as it would with white-owned media outlets, Buttigieg’s camp demurred and offered pennies on the dollar.
“Every four years, presidential candidates come to the state and want us to give them free media coverage. They request for editorial meetings and fill our email inboxes with editorials and news releases that they expect us to print. But when it comes to spending their advertising dollars, they spend it with media outlets that are owned by other ethnic groups. If they want to reach the Black community, they must purchase advertising. The bottom line is simple – we do not exist to provide free media coverage for politicians,” said Nate Abraham Jr., publisher of the Carolina Panorama Newspaper.
Despite dedicating two pages of his Douglas plan to equal employment and business opportunities. The plan even goes so far as to propose an entire initiative –dubbed the Walker-Lewis Initiative– that aims to “triple the number of entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds within 10 years” and “invest in entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.”
“The campaign’s decision to undervalue black media shows that, as with many well-meaning allies, white privilege blinds the candidate and his campaign to the fact that words and good intentions will not win the fight to dismantle old systems and structures that inhibit prosperity. Action must be taken, all parties must go about the hard work to usher in real change with unwavering conviction; fully knowing that change comes when majority populations see equal value in black businesses, black families, and black lives. To simply rely on a lengthy plan with little action behind it, amounts to the worst trope of the white savior complex.” Said Larry D. Smith, Publisher of The Community Times, Times Upstate and the President of the SC Black Publishers Association.
I find it to be hypocritical for the campaign to draft a plan, roll it out and proffer their candidate as the one with the solution to centuries-old problems of inequity yet fail to take the lead in implementing said plan. Instead of proudly standing behind the vision for the Walker-Lewis Initiative and investing in minority media, the campaign opted instead to offer the barest of minimums to a collective of black entrepreneurs. It is insulting. Just as it is insulting to hand down the minimum sentence to a white officer who killed a black man in his own home. It is placing minimum value on black businesses and black lives.
In yet another example of white privilege, the campaign in recent days has been seen aligning allegiances to the next generation of white elites and young technology scions, while paying lip service to the black voters. Even when knowing full-well that the tech industry is one of the most discriminatory and exclusionary industries in American.
Granted there is nothing new in Presidential candidates cozying up to big donors, what is new is having those candidates simultaneously attempt to position themselves as harbingers for equality.
Needless to say, if white privilege is blinding Mayor Pete Buttigieg to his hypocrisy as a candidate while he is still attempting to win votes and has autonomy over day-to-day decision making, what can black voters expect out of a Buttigieg Presidency?
The fact of the matter is, if black voters can’t trust Pete Buttigieg to stand behind his words with action now, then we surely can’t trust him should he become president.
Harry Hunter, Publisher, Momentum Digital Network, President, 2020 South Carolina Black Media Coalition
Michael Bailey, Publisher, The MinorityEye, News & Information Network, Candidate Relations Manager, 2020 South Carolina Black Media Coalition
Nate Abraham Jr.,Publisher, Carolina Panorama Newspaper,
Calvin Reese, Publisher, Millennium Magazine
Larry D. Smith, Publisher, DBS Communications /, The Community Times, Times Upstate & SC Diversity Magazine
Tolbert Smalls, Publisher, The Charleston Chronicle Newspaper