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Black-owned businesses largely shut out of city contracts, city study shows

WGBH reports on a city-commissioned study that shows Black-owned businesses got just 1/2 of 1% of major city contracts during the first five years under Mayor Walsh.

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Comments

The GBH headline (and yours) misstate the study’s findings by using the words “shut out.” The study looked at the breakdown of contracts awarded — just because someone didn’t win doesn’t mean they were shut out. Would need some evidence that someone was doing this intentionally to say that.

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sounds about white.

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racism is almost never intentional

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The modern concepts of "systemic racism" and "equality" have expanded things to where intent/method doesn't matter. It's only outcomes that matter.

If kids of one race score better/worse on a math test compared to kids of another race, then the math test is racist.

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Or the education that the Black kids who performed worse on the test is not equally as good as the education received by the white kids.

Or do you simply draw the conclusion that white children are superior to Black children at math and call it a day?

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The modern concepts of "systemic racism" and "equality" have expanded things to where intent/method doesn't matter. It's only outcomes that matter.

If kids of one race score better/worse on a math test compared to kids of another race, then the math test is racist.

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If kids of one race score better/worse on a math test compared to kids of another race, then the math test is racist.

Well gee, if there's a standardized math test where the only apparent factor in the results of the test are racial, we should probably take a closer look at this and see whats going on, don't you think?

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This bit from the disparity study is the key takeaway, "Results from the disparity study indicated that there are many minority- and woman-owned businesses in the Boston area but that many of them have relatively low capacities for City work. The City should consider various technical assistance, business development, mentor-protégé, and joint venture programs to help businesses build the capacity required to compete for relatively large City contracts and procurements."

It will take years of determined effort by the City to get to where we want to be on this. As opposed to politically-driven rhetoric. Hopefully such efforts are equal to the work done by the researchers and authors who worked on this project.

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Suprise.

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That seems odd.

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Just like how race is asked for literally everything we have to fill out. But you don't find the information odd at all?

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Can I ask what color the company owner is before I agree to let him do the job?

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When researching the background of the ownership of a business, are you doing so because you want to use your money to support minority-owned businesses or is it because you want only want to do business with white people?

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The city wants to know the color of business owners.
I dont research the color of business owners I hire, It never occurred fo me as a necessary thing to do.
With my gutters it will probably go to the lowest bid I can find out of 2 or 3 companies. We had a fence put in two years ago and that's how we did that one too, not by skin color.

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I bet you’re a Frank Baker votah!

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Read a comment and have me all figured out do you?

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Maybe—if you had been paying attention at all in history class or to the news this past year—you would recognize that this country has perpetrated centuries of government-sanctioned discrimination based upon skin color* that is both present in our current systems and has had enormous economic impact on communities who face(d) discrimination.

Even if systemic racism disappears today, the ramifications, economic impact, lack of opportunities of past racism will still take a long time to be corrected. The government has a responsibility to correct that. And in a city that is more than half Black, Latino, and Asian, its only right that the public’s money includes fair, proportionate spending on companies run by people that resemble the people that they serve.

(*and gender, religion etc)

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If someone in city hall is keeping black owned or minority owned businesses from obtaining contracts because he or she or they are racists then that's another story. just putting "shut out" in a headline doesnt make it so without facts.

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Systemic racism isn’t dependent upon one racist functionary doing intentional racism.

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Results from the disparity study indicated that there are many minority- and woman-owned businesses in the Boston area but that many of them have relatively low capacities for City work.

If you own a small cafeteria you might want the contract to service Boston schools, you are not big enough to handle the contract therefore you dont get it...or even bid for it.
Your company shows up in a disparity report because you're a minority business owner, is that systemic racism?
Headlines are not facts, they are usually just opinions.

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How do you explain the fact that so few minority-owned or woman-owned businesses have capacity for city work?

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I don't know why but saying they are "shut out" from contracts is not accurate.
Putting the blame for why they dont have the capacity to handle city contracts on Boston City Hall is not fair, I'm sure they would love to grant contracts to diverse companies but they also have a city to run and have to make sure the job gets done.

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This gets back at your original question, why even ask about the background of the business owners?

If it’s not racism that keeps minority-owned businesses from flourishing to the point they can handle city contracts, then what is the impediment and how can it be addressed?

You keep saying it’s not racism, but in the absence of a plausible alternative explanation, why should we assume it isn’t?

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But what about the minority owned companies who do get contracts?
Being able to handle a city contract is up to the company bidding on the contract and to assume a company not big enough to handle it is because of racism is not something I would assume. .

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No one is advocating giving contracts to companies not equipped to handle the job.

I asked upthread why aren’t there enough minority-owned companies big enough to handle city contracts. You stated that you didn’t know.

It’s interesting that you don’t know why there is a disparity in minority-owned companies but you definitely know it’s not racism. If you don’t know why there is a disparity, then doesn’t that leave open the possibility that systemic racism is a major reason for the disparity?

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You assume its racism? Even if other minority owned businesses do get contracts?
How about non minority businesses who are unable to get contracts?
Disparity happens in many things and there are many reasons.

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“Many reasons”, yet you still decline to provide one. You don’t know the reason for the disparity, but you know for sure it definitely isn’t racism.

If all things were equal we would see minority-business ownership numbers that closer reflect the demographic makeup of the community.

You keep asking about the minority-owned businesses who win contracts as if it undermines any claims of racism; do you really think 0.5% of contracts given over a 5-year period going to minority-owned businesses makes a strong argument for eliminating racism as a cause for this disparity? That’s like saying “racism doesn’t shape the work force in my company! I have 200 employees and one of them is a person of color!” In no world would any serious person make that claim in good faith, and it isn’t possible to seriously posit, in a majority-minority city like Boston, that awarding a mere 1/2 of one percent of city contracts to minority-owned businesses is evidence that racial inequality is non-factor and racism should not be considered as a reason for this disparity.

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Various factors combine to shut black owned businesses out. simple.

City NEEDS to do more to get that number up to something respectable.

$8 vs $247k

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You're just trying to get the gutters fixed. The city's job is to study how people are doing, to discover issues that may need attention, and to make policy.

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it's "for analysis afterwards". It's not supposed to explicitly factor into decision-making.

(But you know this.)

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It's not supposed to explicitly factor into decision-making.

If the analysis shows a low number of minority owned businesses recieve city contracts, the city isnt going to explicitly use the data to try to rectify it?

Of course it will and it's the whole reason for the analysis

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If the analysis shows that an identifiable group is missing out on a pathway to prosperity, wouldn't you want the matter looked into?

What you do with the data is of course the big question. The shallow, lazy approach to remedying disparities in outcome tends toward quotas and set-asides. The more enduring approach tends toward looking into what factors are in play that led to the outcome, and addressing those.

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Say the city puts a bid out for trash removal and a company with 200 trucks and the ability to do the job cost effectively and reliably at a fair price bids, but it isnt minority owned,
another company bids and has only 20 trucks and would not be able to do the job at the same price or as effectively, but is minority owned. what is the city to do?
Is it up to the city to help the minority owned business grow its operation?
I dont know the answer, but choosing to help one company over another based on the race of the owner seems wrong to me.
What about a company with 10 trucks and not minority owned, do they get help as well?

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No one is suggesting hiring companies not up to task, yet you keep repeating this line.

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I was replying to this

The more enduring approach tends toward looking into what factors are in play that led to the outcome, and addressing those.

Are contracts not being awarded to companies based on the race of the owner? If the answer is yes then we have a problem.

If you think it's the responsibility of the city of Boston to do something to address the disparity in contracts then what is the answer?

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You argue against a solution (offering contracts to subpar companies) that no one is offering in order to knock it down and strengthen your position. Sorry, but that is a classic straw man.

“Are contracts not being awarded to companies based on the race of the owner?” You seem smart enough to know that isn’t the only way racism works and this point has been addressed in more than one comment here.

What factors are in play, do you suppose, are in play that the number of business owners capable of winning city contracts are a fraction of the minority population of the GBA? I have asked this repeatedly and your response is always “I don’t know, but it sure isn’t racism!” It’s curious that there is an undeniable and enormous racial inequality and we all have seen infinitely endless examples of structural and systemic racism effecting Black and minority economic growth, yet you are both 100% sure that it is not racism and don’t have the imagination to propose and support an alternative explanation.

As to the solution, I think the first step is to acknowledge that there is a racial inequality as far as minority-owned companies that are capable of fulfilling those contracts and ask what are the obstacles for such companies to grow into a position are and then design solutions to meet the problems.

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You seem to be stuck on this idea that minority-owned businesses are not as competent as white-owned businesses. You really should think about that view and what you can do to shift it.

(As for the example you gave, the solution would be for the city to make sure it is able to hire multiple smaller businesses rather than requiring large-scale operations, since families of color are much less likely to have the capital to start a large business, having only been legally allowed to own property and accumulate wealth for about six generations, and practically only having been able to do so for about two or three generations. The household median net worth for white families in Boston is $247,500 and for Black families is $8.)

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You seem to be stuck on this idea that minority-owned businesses are not as competent as white-owned businesses.

Something i have not said is any company was not competent, if the company is not large enough to handle a city contract that isn't incompetence, but you put those words into my mouth?
My point is it's not the City of Boston's responsibility to monitor and gauge which companies are doing well and which are not based on the race of the owner.

If contracts are being withheld because of the race of an owner that is a problem. otherwise it's just statistics and people wanting the world to be perfect, how can the city guarantee parity in contracts with private companies based on the race of the owners? They can't they can only choose from who bids for the contracts.

If the city of Boston put out a contract and noted which race the owner of the business had to be to bid would you be ok with that? I don't think the courts would. Your idea about choosing multiple smaller companies is a good one but not always practical for all contracts im sure.

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Without actually reading the study to learn all of the definitions and processes at play, these lines in the linked to GBH story jump out at me as a disparity between Black owned businesses that could be getting these contracts, and how many actually are getting city contracts.

Black-owned businesses accounted for 3.5 percent of area enterprises available to undertake prime contracts and 5.6 percent of businesses ready for subcontracting opportunities, according to an executive summary of the study.

But these businesses won just a fraction of the city’s contracts: 0.4 percent of prime jobs and 1.6 percent of subcontracting work.

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You state over and over again that the disparity is absolutely not racism. You refuse to offer an alternative theory to explain the facts surrounding this disparity.

We are not mind readers and given that you don’t tell us why you don’t think it is racism—your only argument is “not everything is racism”—or offer a plausible theory of your own, it is not unreasonable to infer that you think Black and minority business owners are inferior to white business owners.

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I prefer to support Black business owners.

BTW the word you want is "race," not "skin color."

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But that isn't always possible.
I never asked a person what race the owner of the company they worked for was though.
When we had our fence put in the guy who came out for the estimate didnt mention it either.

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If you're actually bothered by the wealth disparity and want to support Black businesses as an act of reparations, try looking for businesses in the many directories of Black-owned businesses, or ask people for recommendations of their favorite Black-owned businesses, or go on Thumbtack etc. and look for businesses that are Black-owned.

If you prefer to keep on with your colorblind racism shtick, then just pick whatever white-owned business you find first and shrug and say "I didn't ask anyone if the owner was black or white or green or purple" and keep the money flowing from white person to white person.

Now that you know these are your options, if you keep doing the second one, you're perpetuating race-based wealth disparities.

(And yes of course there are going to be some times when the best fit for a particular reason isn't a Black-owned business. Don't pull out your damn strawman and decide you can't support Black businesses because of this; just educate yourself on how to pick Black-owned businesses, and try to do so more often.)

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Ok, Thanks for the input and assumptions.

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Imagine if we left justice and equality up to white people to on the honor system.. lmfao. We'd all still be sharecroppers and internment camp prisoners.

They're really in the comments essentially trying to tell us, black people, to shut up and go pick cotton somewhere. "Be happy for your ".4%" it's what's fair! now get out of my face N*****

How you could think anyone who is not white buys these numbers as normal healthy and just is beyond me...

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The truth comes out. Now he's in the U.S. Labor Secretary.

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Any stats for Latino businesses? Hello?

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On positive note for minority owned business - If you have a contract from the state of MA you now must agree to spend a percentage of what you receive from the state in a certified SDP business

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Does anyone in Boston understand there is a giant world outside the City Proper. The insane echo chamber of righting the world by " fixing Boston" is myopic and somewhat absurd. I really doubt theCity of Boston is fulfilling all of its contracts with companies who produce their goods and services here. These studies are funded with grant money that goes out of Boston and the media Companies just live off of the endless echo chamber.

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