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‘We Don’t Get Our Fair Shake’: Rep. Johnson and CBC Call Out Biden on Unequal Federal Ad Spending Between Black and White-owned Companies

Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia 4th District called out the Biden administration demanding answers on how the federal government spends its advertising money toward Black communities.

On March 4, Johnson issued a tweet highlighting his March 2 letter to the White House where he criticizes the federal government’s COVID-19 advertising campaign targeting Black audiences.

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 15: Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) speaks during a press conference in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to announce legislation to expand the number of seats on the Supreme Court on April 15, 2021 in Washington, DC. The bill would expand the Supreme Court from 9 to 13 justices. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says she does not support the bill and doesn’t plan to bring it to the House floor. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

He says in part, “unfortunately, the failure of the federal government to spend COVID-19 advertising dollars with Black-owned media and advertising firms is simply the continuation of a problem that has existed for years.”

Johnson’s letter specifically referenced a media report from last August that pointed to what it described as the Health & Human Services Department’s shortcomings in spending with Black-owned media for COVID-19 ads targeting Black audiences.

Johnson’s tweet also referenced a 2018 government report that illustrates the disparities between how overall federal advertising dollars are spent with Black-owned firms versus ones not owned by African-Americans.

The report first came to light when congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C., requested a 2018 Government Accountability Office report on how the federal government spends its advertising dollars.

The report revealed that out of its billion-dollar annual spending budget, between 2013-2017, and Black-owned media received just $51 million dollars, or just 1 percent of the total $5 billion dollars spent during that time period.

“It’s not working” Johnson told Atlanta Black Star of the government’s way of issuing contracts for its advertising campaigns. “Our firms are not getting a piece of this money and the messaging is not being effective to our people and as a result of that our people are losing out and it could be a matter of life or death.”

“If the federal government wants to be as effective as it can in messaging to the Black community, it must enlist in Black advertising firms and Black-owned media to get the word out about certain things,” Johnson continued.

Read full story at Atlanta Black star here.

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