Corporate Monopolies Are a Racial Justice Issue. We Need Federal Regulation Now

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Illustration for article titled Corporate Monopolies Are a Racial Justice Issue. We Need Federal Regulation Now
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From a racial justice perspective, it is important to note that all major industries in America are monopolies controlled by white owners and decision-makers. Whether it’s a single business taking over a town or entire industry or a dozen companies colluding to maintain anti-Black norms, the effects for Black people have always been the same—exclusion from service, exploitation of labor and discrimination on the job.

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We see this especially with Amazon’s dominance in the retail industry, which relies on the exploitation of Black workers—and the unfair playing field for Black-owned businesses due to consolidated markets. Black-female-led startups have only received .0006 percent of the $424.7 billion in tech venture funding raised since 2009. Small, Black-owned businesses are also locked into platforms like Facebook to reach wider audiences, beholden to their advertisement review processes.

But not only do corporations play a clear role in continuing to drive the racial wealth gap and eliminate avenues for upward mobility with Black communities—many corporations, like big tech companies, enabled and defended the very white supremacist insurgents we saw enacting violence at the capitol. This brazen act of domestic terrorism further illustrates how corporate enablers help create an incredibly dangerous climate when there is inadequate federal regulation.

For years, companies like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Stripe ignored warnings from Color Of Change and other civil rights groups about the dangers of white supremacists, far-right conspiracists, and racist militias using their platforms like to organize, recruit and fundraise. Further proof that these companies continue to operate with broken business models that prioritize power and profit over Black lives and our democracy, and now all of us must pay the price.

Color Of Change repeatedly flagged vulnerabilities around Facebook’s Groups product, and the potential for bad actors to take advantage of them. We demanded they pause group recommendations entirely until the election results were certified, and demote the top 100 misinformation super-spreader groups on the platform. Facebook did not implement our policy recommendations, and as a result, far-right extremists were able to use existing networks of Facebook groups in a coordinated attack to organize #StoptheSteal rallies across the country, spread misinformation, and delegitimize the election results.

Twitter provided Trump with a megaphone to manipulate and misinform millions, inspire hate crimes and embolden violent white supremacist terrorism, including the insurgency until it was too late. While the companies finally listened to our demands—blocking Trump from Twitter for 12 hours the following day—the long-term impact of their failure to implement their own rules remains. Facebook followed suit as well, with its move to flag Trump indefinitely until a peaceful transition of power. However, these actions do little to stop the gaping holes and flaws within their platform today. Without intervention, these enablers are on pace to repeat history.

What we’ve learned from the events on Jan. 6, is that Black people stand to lose in a plethora of ways when monopolies win the day. Not only do these corporations turn their back on bad actors and domestic terror groups; their presence is directly related to the destruction of Black small businesses, which threatens not only individual Black people and families, but entire communities and racial justice movements. Antitrust enforcement can no longer be race-neutral, and must include race-conscious analysis that evaluates the impact of mergers and anticompetitive practices on Black communities.

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Corporate monopolies are a racial justice issue, and the Biden administration must prioritize racial justice in antitrust enforcement. Antimonopoly policy needs to be part of broader economic policy that empowers Black people. The historical effects of racist exploitation in our economy are cumulative and devastating. It would take the average Black family 228 years to build the wealth of a white family today. If that trend continues, Black median wealth will fall to zero by 2053.

It’s not enough for Color Of Change, alongside leading advocacy groups, to successfully pressure several large corporations like Amazon, Bank of America, Comcast, and Coca-Cola to pause political donations and cut off funding to the 147 members of Congress who incited the insurrection. We need the federal government to establish and enforce new rules that limit corporate America’s outsized power and influence over our democracy and safety.

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Dismantling racism is not a zero-sum game. Fighting for Black people and racial justice strengthens our country to the benefit of all. It’s time that we acknowledge this ongoing history and urge our government regulators to take these racial impacts into account. Only then can we work toward a more equitable economy, one where Black people can finally be made financially whole.

At Color Of Change, we want to be clear with this new administration that if they’re truly committed to racial justice, they must effectively deal with these corporations and the variety of ways that they stand in the way of racial justice and Black prosperity. If we truly want to achieve equity and economic liberation in this country, we must address how corporate monopolies perpetuate racial discrimination, obstruct the economic growth of Black communities, proliferate hate speech and embolden violent white supremacist terrorism.

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Jade Magnus Ogunnaike is the senior director of the media, culture and economic justice team at Color Of Change, the largest online racial justice organization in the country. Color Of Change helps people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and government to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in America. Visit www.colorofchange.org.

DISCUSSION

Bill

Free clue: There are laws and rules governing monopolies.

Amazon has competition - but they don’t do nearly as well of a job, so Amazon still sits at the top of the heap. And frankly, the competition is not that much better than Amazon when it comes to how they treat workers. Really, Wally World and Target are not known as a haven for workers rights.

You can say Twitter is a monopoly. Twitter is a social media communication service. They are not the only company that provides such a thing. They are just one of the biggest and best known. TheRoot and Gizmodo have recently had posts about one such site that just crashed and burned for its irresponsible practices getting it tossed offline - maybe you heard of Parler? Perhaps you heard of Parlor, a similar service. Or Facebook. Or about 20 others, that almost nobody uses. Because everybody eventually returns to Twitter - unless they actually managed to get themselves banned their (which takes some doing).

You may have good points about the companies and their crappy hiring practices. And even their crappy work environments. But you appear to know very little about what you are talking about regarding what a monopoly is.