Petition asks Congress to protect Black-owned businesses during COVID-19

The group is urging Congress to designate targeted federal funding to ensure Black-owned businesses survive the nationwide shutdowns

Kings Barber Shop Unisesx in Harlem (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

It’s no secret that Black communities have been hit the hardest during the current pandemic and a new petition is demanding that congress level the playing field by helping businesses in those communities stay afloat.

“Black businesses and their employees are being locked out of the federal coronavirus relief fund. Congress’ current small business relief program assumes that all business owners have equal access to credit and to banking services,” states the petition started by social justice organization Color Of Change. “But we know that has never been the case. From redlining to the refusal to provide loans, Black people in this country have historically been locked out of entrepreneurship.”

A sign announces that Maui Beach Tanning Salon is reopened for business on April 24, 2020 in Marietta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The group is urging Congress to designate targeted federal funding to ensure Black-owned businesses survive the nationwide shutdowns as local residents deal with not just financial hardship but also heightened mortality rates.

READ MORE: Roughly 95% of Black-owned businesses shut out of coronavirus relief

“According to a 2016 study by the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy, only 1% of Black-owned businesses received a bank loan in their first year of operation, compared to 7% of white businesses,” the petition continues. “Generational inequalities in healthcare, housing, and employment mean that Black people are more likely to die from COVID-19 than any other demographic in the U.S. Unless Congress provides direct relief to small business owners, Black communities will continue to disproportionately share the burden of this crisis.”

In addition to funding, the group is also requesting transparency about how the $2 trillion in stimulus funding was allocated, stating that public accounting is needed to address the concerns of the nation.

READ MORE: theGrio’s ‘Staying In Business’ explores Black restaurants facing COVID-19

They believe it is time to “cut out the middleman” by providing direct relief to Black-Americans who have thus far been underserved, explaining that, “Making sure that businesses, especially Black-owned businesses, can maintain payroll through direct transfers rather than loans will ensure these businesses can survive the crisis, get money into the hands of people more quickly, and relieve the strain on a patchwork of state unemployment systems.”

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