Letter to Automakers Outlines Concerns Regarding Fairness and Equity for Black Automotive Media
The Black Automotive Media Group (BAMG), has challenged the nation’s automakers to address fairness and equity regarding Black media who cover the industry.
BAMG is a distinguished group of seven Black reporters and writers who have over 150 years of combined experience in automotive journalism within radio, television, print, videography, event planning and influencing, and social media. They represent a coalition of Black journalists who either work for or own various automotive media platforms.
In a letter to 20 U.S. market automaker brands, the BAMG outlined concerns over a lack of inclusion for Blacks in automotive media and in automobile industry corporate positions.
Automakers were asked to take action on the three pillars outlined in the letter:
- Access to press and special events
- The lack of automotive advertising and marketing dollars for Black-owned Websites, newspapers, magazines, broadcast media, and marketing events
- The lack of Black professionals who participate in developing, designing, engineering, or promoting new vehicles
The letter also noted the lack of diversity on the North American Car, Truck and Utility of the Year (NACTOY) Jury, a prestigious panel of 50 North American journalists and engineers, which as of the release of our letter had no Black Jurors.
The BAMG feels that addressing these pillars is crucial to reversing decades of exclusion that Black automotive journalists have faced. As a result of the letter, all manufacturers responded, and a series of video calls were executed. The conversations were informative and sometimes uncomfortable, and souls on both sides of the discussions were bared. “We need to be an adequate part of the solution,” said one automaker. “We need a strategic corporate reset,” said another.
“These are interesting times of reflection for everyone. But it also marks a moment of introspection for each individual that, in turn, comprises the totality of corporate culture in America,” stated BAMG member Kimatni D. Rawlins. “And the auto industry is not absolved due to equivalent philosophies, directives, and practices that have excluded African Americans from receiving a fair share of the resources and opportunities extended to mainstream media.”
Some brands responded with immediate solutions and pledges to enhance their diversity efforts to at least 15% for press event representation. However, a few were less than contrite, which was disturbing. The BAMG made it clear that diversity directives can only be successful when the mission and portfolio are integral parts of the corporate vision.
Other progress includes electing two Black male journalists onto the NACTOY Jury shortly after a panel discussion with the Motor Press Guild (MPG) on the plight of Black journalists in automotive media, and after the BAMG industry letter reached automakers. Most manufacturers asked for assistance from the BAMG in identifying the “next generation” of young Black journalists and social media devotees who are rising stars in automotive media.
These conversations are but a first step in a long journey, as a dedicated, long-term approach will help strengthen relationships not only with Black media but also within the African American community. According to http://www.nielsen.com, Black Americans contribute $1.2 Trillion annually to the U.S. economy, and their marketing and media value should reflect our buying power within the automotive sector.
The BAMG expects to meet quarterly with manufacturers to assess progress made towards greater inclusion.
Members of the Black Automotive Media Group include:
- Greg Morrison, Bumper2Bumpertv
- Roosevelt Gist, AutoNetwork.com
- Kimatni D. Rawlins, AutomotiveRhythms.com / FitFathers.com
- Frank Washington, AboutThatCar.com
- Ken Chester, RoadWorthy Drive Productions
- Ronda Penrice, Freelance Writer
- Brian Armstead, Autosense/Roadgear