Media mogul and rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs published an open letter on Thursday accusing corporate America ― and General Motors in particular ― of paying lip service to Black businesses without actually supporting them.
“The same feet these companies use to stand with us in solidarity are the same feet they use to stand on our necks,” Diddy wrote in the letter, which was published on the website of his media network, Revolt.
Diddy’s letter echoes the concerns of several other Black leaders and entrepreneurs who have accused GM CEO Mary Barra of stonewalling them and allocating less than 0.5% of the company’s advertising budget to Black-owned companies. Last week, a group including rapper and actor Ice Cube and Allen Media Group head Byron Allen took out a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press lambasting Barra.
In response, GM spokesperson Pat Morrissey disputed the advertising budget claim, telling the Free Press that 2% of the company’s ad budget is spent on Black businesses. Morrissey also said the company plans to increase this percentage, aiming for 4% in 2022 and 8% by 2025, and that it is committed to supporting Black-owned companies, including Revolt.
“While REVOLT does receive advertising revenue from GM, our relationship is not an example of success,” Diddy wrote in his piece. “Instead, REVOLT, just like other Black-owned media companies, fights for crumbs while GM makes billions of dollars every year from the Black community.”
Diddy went on to argue that “no longer can Corporate America manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable action,” and said GM’s behavior is a symptom of a larger problem.
“In 2019, brands spent $239 billion on advertising,” Diddy wrote. “Less than 1% of that was invested in Black-owned media companies... It’s disrespectful that the same community that represents 14% of the population and spends over $1.4 trillion annually is still the most economically undervalued and underserved at every level. To repeat, $1.4 TRILLION ANNUALLY! The Almighty Black Dollar!”
The media mogul’s passionate entreaty received a largely negative reaction on social media. Many people called the statement hypocritical, since Diddy has himself been accused of failing to pay artists under his music label, Bad Boy Records.
A number of artists, including the rapper Mase in 2020, have publicly accused Diddy of keeping master recordings and failing to distribute publishing royalties.