• “Lead, follow or get out of the damn way!”

    September 20, 2012 by
    Ruben Hopkins

    Ruben Hopkins

    It should come as no surprise that Milwaukee has the weakest black business community in the country. However, it still surprises people when I bring it up. It’s as if we don’t talk about it, it will go away.

    Recently a Department of Justice complaint was filed by the NAACP at the urging of local business and social organizations. It is not that the complaint was filed, it is the business organizations that are not present in supporting the complaint.

    The complaints states/ alleges: Disparities in the value of contracts and subcontracts with the City of Milwaukee awarded to minority-owned business persist despite studies commissioned by the City documenting those disparities and identifying in recommendations steps the City should take to reduce or eliminate them. By failing and refusing to implement changes that would result in equal contracting opportunity for African American, Hispanic, Native American and Asian American and non-minority women contractors, the City of Milwaukee discriminates on the basis of race and national origin in contracting and procurement. The City fails to comply with the Federal Laws and regulations designed to assure equality of opportunity. The City is a recipient of very significant amounts of Federal funds that support the City and its programs. As a recipient of Federal funds the City is bound to comply with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the provisions of federal laws and regulations respecting equal opportunity.

    It is difficult for me to understand why the African American Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the Hmong Chamber, the National Association of Minority Contractors and others haven’t signed on in support of this complaint. Why?

    How can the organizations whose members have not been getting contracts signed on in support of a complaint to the Department of Justice asking them to review what has been happening in Wisconsin for years?

    Could it be the fact that there is no Civil Rights Law enforcement at any level in the state? The City of Milwaukee, The County of Milwaukee and The State of Wisconsin all are without Civil Right Law enforcement. So, who do we complain to when we are not being treated fairly?

    The lack of belief in the NAACP could be one of the reasons. The fact that each ethnic group has found a way to get what they can, when they can and are not interested in biting the hand that feeds them?

    On Thursday, September 20, 2012 at Coffee Makes You Black Restaurant, located at 2803 North Teutonia, a group of business leaders will discuss contract disparities with the city and county governments. The meeting starts at 6:00 p.m.

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    About Ruben Hopkins

    Chairman, Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce, Inc.