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National Black Chamber of Commerce calls on SBA to revitalize business programs

ATLANTA DAILY WORLD — According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): “The federal government’s goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses each year.”
Here are the benefits: “To help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.

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Harry Alford and Kay DeBow, co-founder's of the NBCC. (Twitter Photo @NationalBCC)
By Harry and Kay DeBow

According to the Small Business Administration (SBA): “The federal government’s goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses each year.”

Here are the benefits: “To help provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.

“Disadvantaged businesses in the 8(a) Program can:  Compete for set-aside and sole-source contracts in the program.  Form joint ventures with established businesses through the SBA’s mentor-protégé program.  Receive management and technical assistance, including business training, counseling, market assistance, and high-level executive development programs, as they apply.”

Most successful program ever

The 8(a) program was the brainchild of Parren J. Mitchell while he was chair of the House Small Business Committee and his staff, led by NBCC Board Member Anthony W. Robinson.  It is the most successful minority business program in the history of federal procurement. No formal program has made more Black millionaires than this program. Still, it must be updated and reinforced.

A five percent minority business goal for the federal government is a pittance.  The Black population percentage of our nation is over 14.6 percent alone; Hispanics are 17 percent.  That’s 31.6 percent without other ethnicities. Racism and passive discrimination in this nation still exists and per the U.S. Supreme Court and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination must be addressed according to the disparate impact placed on identified groups.

Didn’t follow through

President Bill Clinton had the answer to this after being encouraged (or intimidated) from the 1996 Million Man March.  His plan to “mend” affirmative action rather than “end” it included formal disparity studies for each of the 10 federal regions.  Following that, adjusted goals could be implemented. One big problem – he never did it. The Congressional Black Caucus should wake up and take the lead from its greatest founder, Congressman Mitchell, and proceed with the above idea.

The great HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson applied this logic and took Black procurement at HUD to new heights, approaching 32 percent. President George W. Bush watched his back as Democratic congressmen tried to have him indicted for whatever reason they could find.  He eventually resigned to spend time protecting his name and future during various hearings and investigations. HUD does about four percent in Black procurement today.

The greatest challenge to the 8(a) program came ironically under the Barack Obama administration. This president had a mission to “repay” White construction unions for raising over $600 million in his first presidential campaign.  His payback was to require federal construction contracting over $1 million to become union-only projects. As Blacks and Hispanics are terribly underutilized by construction unions, this would cripple the 8(a) program.

We went to the White House and pleaded on the effect this would have over our constituency (which should have been his, too).  They ignored our efforts and quickly became adversarial. What happened was devastating. The Obama administration went “dark” over the 8(a) program.

Destroyed by Obama

Black procurement levels at the time George W. Bush left office were over 8 percent.  When Obama finished his two terms, it had been reduced to a little over one percent. That’s billions of dollars extracted from our communities.

SBA Regional Administrator Ashley Bell spoke at our recent annual conference and emphasized the reduction in Black procurement due to the reduction in active Black 8(a) firms.  The same can be said for SBA business loans. It was just devastating and most of the Black community does not know what hit them.

What was particularly “salt in the wounds” was that the SBA under the Obama administration became very hostile towards Black business. At one point, the SBA would reject our emails to them.  They took their budgets for funding development grants away from Black associations and tossed them around to non-Black groups. There was pure hatred over there during those eight dark years.  How could Blacks do this to other Blacks in the 21st Century?

Turn it around

Let’s turn this atrocity around. We must encourage the White House and federal agencies to quickly pick up the pieces and bring the 8(a) program back to life and with vigor and updated goals.  If Black firms could attain at least five percent in procurement contracting with the federal government, that would mean $25 billion annually infused into our economic base.

There is a federal election coming in 2020. We must make significant improvement while that environment exists. It is time for Blacks to address each political candidate with that great quote from Chaka Khan: “What ‘cha gonna do for me?”


Harry C. Alford is the co-founder and president/CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC). Kay DeBow is the NBCC co-founder. Contact them via www.nationalbcc.org.

This article originally appeared in the Atlanta Daily World.

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Brittney Griner Sentenced to More than 9 years in Russian Prison

NNPA NEWSWIRE — The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision. “We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

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By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

WNBA Superstar Brittney Griner has been sentenced to more than 9 years in a Russian prison following her conviction on drug charges.

Her lawyers called the verdict a disappointment and vowed to appeal.

The lawyers of WNBA star Brittney Griner, Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov, said in a written statement following the verdict announcement that the court ignored all the evidence they presented and that they will appeal the decision.

“We are very disappointed by the verdict. As legal professionals, we believe that the court should be fair to everyone regardless of nationality,” Attorneys Maria Blagovolina and Alexander Boykov said in a statement.

“The court completely ignored all the evidence of the defense, and most importantly, the guilty plea. This contradicts the existing legal practice.

“Taking into account the amount of the substance (not to mention the defects of the expertise) and the plea, the verdict is absolutely unreasonable. We will certainly file an appeal,” they added.

Russian officials contended that Griner committed the crime on purpose. They also levied a fine totaling about $16,400 American dollars on the basketball star.

Authorities arrested Griner on Feb. 17 at an airport in Moscow after finding less than a gram of cannabis oil in her luggage.

She has been detained since then.

Recently, American officials revealed that the Biden-Harris administration had offered notorious arms dealer Viktor Bout in exchange for the release of Griner and Paul Whelan.

“Today, American citizen Brittney Griner received a prison sentence that is one more reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney,” President Biden said.

“It’s unacceptable, and I call on Russia to release her immediately so she can be with her wife, loved ones, friends, and teammates. My administration will continue to work tirelessly and pursue every possible avenue to bring Brittney and Paul Whelan home safely as soon as possible.”

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Report: Human Rights Violations in Prisons Throughout Southern United States Cause Disparate and Lasting Harm in Black Communities  

NNPA NEWSWIRE — “The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

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NNPA Newswire

NEW YORK – The Southern Prisons Coalition, a group of civil and human rights organizations, submitted a new report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination on the devastating consequences of incarceration on Black people throughout the southern United States.

With the long-term goal of eliminating all forms of racial discrimination in the criminal legal system, including the carceral system, the report describes the widespread, disparate harms resulting from the arrests, harsh prison sentences, and incarceration on Black communities.

The report also cites the devastating impacts of solitary confinement, prison labor, the school to prison pipeline, and incarceration of parents on Black families.

On August 8, 2022, the UN will review the United States’ compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination for the first time since 2014.

Among the ongoing stark racial disparities throughout prisons in the southern United States, Black people are five times more likely to be incarcerated in state prisons.

In states like Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas, where Black communities comprise 38% of the total population, Black individuals account for as much as 67% of the total incarcerated population.

While incarcerated, Black people are more than eight times more likely to be placed in solitary confinement, and they are 10 times more likely to be held there for exceedingly long periods of time.

By submitting the report to the United Nations, the Southern Prisons Coalition hopes to solicit concrete recommendations from the UN Committee as well as commitments from the United States delegation about their plans to address systemic issues in the United States prison system, particularly in the South.

According to the report, several states in the United States have also failed to meet several of the UN’s Standard Minimum Rules for the treatment of incarcerated people, including:

  • Work should help to prepare incarcerated people for their release from prison, including life and job skills;
  • Safety measures and labor protections for incarcerated workers should be the same as those that cover workers who are not incarcerated;
  • Incarcerated workers should receive equitable pay, be able to send money home to their families, and have a portion of their wages set aside to be given to them upon release.

“The U.S. has long failed to live up to its international human rights treaty obligations on eliminating racial discrimination, perhaps more so in the area of mass incarceration and prison conditions than in any other context,” said Lisa Borden, Senior Policy Counsel, International Advocacy at the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“We hope the Committee will help to shine a light on these very dark truths and prompt the U.S. to take its obligation to make significant improvements more seriously.”

“The abuses of forced labor are inextricably tied to racial discrimination in our nation,” said Jamila Johnson, Deputy Director at the Promise of Justice Initiative.

“In Louisiana, for instance, people are still sent into the fields to labor by hand in dangerously high heat indexes, for little to no compensation, and with brutal enforcement reminiscent of slavery and the era of ‘convict leasing’.”

“This report reveals the suffering of Black people in southern U.S. prisons, whose stories of marginalization and discrimination echo the racial subjugation of slavery and convict leasing during our country’s most shameful past,” said Antonio L. Ingram II, Assistant Counsel at the Legal Defense Fund.

“Despite widespread knowledge of the longstanding racial inequalities in the criminal legal and carceral systems, the United States continues to allow egregious human rights violations to persist for Black incarcerated people in violation of international law. This report serves as a sobering reminder of how far we need to go.”

Read the full report here.

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Celebrate your birthday with 10 free items

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

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By Angelina Liu, Entertainment Editor of The Trendsetter / Texas Metro News

Is your birthday coming up, and you’re not sure how to celebrate? Beat the summer heat by grabbing free ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, or a daiquiri at WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe.” Not in the mood for sweets? Head over to Jersey Mike’s or McDonald’s. Check out the rest of these Top 10 places giving out free items on your special day.

1. Chocolate Secrets

At Chocolate Secrets, located at 3926 Oak Lawn Ave, Dallas, TX 75219, you can celebrate your birthday by getting one free piece of candy under their candy cases.

2. WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”

Head to WhoDaq Daquiris “The Daiquiri Shoppe”, located at 684 W Pioneer Pkwy Suite 100, Grand Prairie, Texas 75051, to claim a free small personal daiquiri on your birthday. Quench your thirst with signature flavors such as “Strawberry Shortcake” or “Bahama Mama.”

3. Sephora

Sign up for a free, Beauty Insider account and receive your choice of 250 bonus points, Laura Mercier, Amika or Tatcha sets on your birthday. The choice of powders, lipsticks and skincare is bound to make you look fabulous for your special day.

4. Starbucks

Need a quick pick-me-up on your birthday? Starbucks has it covered! Join the Starbucks Rewards Program seven days prior to your birthday and make one purchase. Starbucks will then email you a coupon for a free food or beverage item two days before your birthday. The birthday reward qualifies for anything on the menu, including any size handcrafted drink or food item.

5. Jersey Mike’s

In the mood for a sub? Head over to Jersey Mike’s and receive a free sub and drink. Make sure to sign up for the Jersey Mike’s Subs Email Club prior to your birthday to receive this reward. Nothing tastes quite like melted cheese and meat in between a toasted baguette, along with an icy cold drink.

6. The Cheesecake Factory

Celebrating with friends? Tell your server it’s your birthday and receive a free treat as well as a song. It may be mildly embarrassing, but hey, it’s free!

7. Culver’s

Need something cold and sweet to beat the Texas heat? Head to Culver’s for a free sundae when you sign up for their rewards program. The sweet creaminess will surely not disappoint.

8. IHOP

Want to indulge in a sweet breakfast before birthday festivities? Join the International Bank of Pancakes rewards program to receive a free stack of pancakes on your birthday. Pair your pancakes with a choice of chocolate chips, syrup, fresh fruit or a dollop of whipped cream.

9. McDonald’s

Need a snack before embarking on your next birthday adventure? Download the McDonald’s app and join MyMcDonald’s Rewards to receive free large fries. Mmm, the taste and smell of fresh, perfectly salted french fries.

10. Smoothie King

Want to celebrate your birthday with a healthier option? Enjoy a birthday smoothie at Smoothie King. Download the Smoothie King app to receive this offer.

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