New nonprofit organization of black community groups, faith-based institutions, and business and political leaders in South Florida takes a force-in-numbers approach to tackle inequality and promote black prosperity in communities Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
the South Florida Black Prosperity Alliance held press conferences in all three South Florida counties on Thursday to unveil the initiative. In Palm Beach County, the group gathered in front of the Martin Luther King Memorial in Currie Park in West Palm Beach, currently under renovation by a black-owned company.
“It’s different because where there’s an economic disparity issue in Palm Beach County, we know the Palm Beach County Black Chamber of Commerce will be on the front line. We know the County Urban League. Palm Beach will be on the front line, ”said Brian C. Johnson, Broward County President Coalition of Minority Builders. “What we are saying today, however, is that when you see them, you will also see the rest of us.”
The alliance intends to address a wide range of inequities – from improving infrastructure in black neighborhoods to providing black businesses with fair access to public procurement opportunities.
Among the most urgent needs right now is equal access to vaccinations and COVID-19 care for black people, said Sue Jones, member of the Palm Beach County Black Nurses Association.
While blacks make up about 20% of the population of Palm Beach County, black seniors make up about 5% of people over 65 who were vaccinated until Feb. 9, Jones said, referring to the data. of the health department.
“It’s a sobering fact,” Jones said.
For black-owned businesses, overcoming institutional biases in the banking system has resulted in fewer black businesses receiving loans from the federal paycheck protection program, which provides loans to struggling businesses during the pandemic. .
Federal loans are administered by banks, which means that businesses must apply for the loans from financial institutions, which apply their own loan eligibility criteria. Johnson said that by interviewing members of his organizations, it became clear that banks were not inclined to give loans to black-owned builders.
“You go through a bank and the banks decided to choose who they were going to prioritize,” Johnson said. “I don’t need to tell you that they didn’t prioritize us.
“Many of us missed the first round of federal aid simply because the disparities and discrimination were institutionalized,” Johnson added.
In addition to identifying and jointly addressing the problems of black communities, the group also intends to support elected officials and businesses that do not perpetuate inequalities.
“To business leaders, we expect, need and invite you to be an active part of the solution,” according to a statement released by the alliance. “The Alliance intends to support those who are true allies and publicly identify those who neglect their role as community actors.
The Alliance will also partner with Florida International University and Florida Memorial University to collect and analyze data on black communities in South Florida.
The founding members of the SFBPA include various branches of the NAACP, the Haitian-American Chamber of Commerce, the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce, the Palm Beach Black Chamber of Commerce, BAC, Urban League of Broward, Circle of Brotherhood, One United Bank, Opa-locka CDC, Black Professionals Network, 100 Black Men of South Florida, Inc., Black Owned Media Alliance and Minority Builders Coalition.