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Full-page ad blasts GM CEO Mary Barra as racist

Jamie L. LaReau, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Automotive News

Allen said the group could recommend 14% of the budget be spent on advertising with Black-owned media companies, “that would be economic parity, we’re not even asking for parity, we’re asking for inclusion.”

He said the men who signed the ad have known each other for years. For the past five years, they have been reaching out to Barra asking for a meeting to win more of GM’s advertising. But Barra does not respond, he said.

About two weeks ago, the group sent an email again to Barra. This time GM's Chief Marketing Officer Deborah Wahl responded indicating she would meet with them instead, Allen said. That was the final straw that prompted the group to collective compose the ad, which Allen said is currently running only in the Free Press.

“If you say status quo is OK, that’s wrong. That is racism. Let me be clear, that is racism. But if you get to the table and you lean in to effectuate change, then you are showing the world who you really are,” Allen said. “This is an opportunity. The numbers will never lie. You’re either doing business with Black-owned media or you’re not in a fair and equitable way.”

Right now GM is the group's focus because it is the automaker that has shown "a great deal of institutionalized racism against Black-owned media," Allen said.

As for Ford Motor Co. and Stellantis, formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Allen declined to comment on their ad spending until he speaks to the rest of the group, but he said, “GM is where we checked all the boxes and no one is happy with GM.”

 

GM's view on its cultural change

Since May 25, 2020, the day that a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on the neck of black man George Floyd, resulting in Floyd's death, GM has been outspoken in denouncing racism.

Amid the protests that followed Floyd's death, Barra penned a letter to all employees saying she will commission and chair an Inclusion Advisory Board made up of internal and external leaders. Its goal is to make GM "the most inclusive company in the world."

GM has set aside $10 million to donate to organizations that will support racial equality.

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