Byron Allen on McDonald’s lawsuit: Black people built wealthiest nation and ‘that’s the extortion’
EXCLUSIVE: "All of this lack of economic inclusion, it's giving a pathway to the other issues in our community," Allen tells theGrio.
Byron Allen’s $10 billion lawsuit against McDonald’s is one of accountability and the desire to create economic inclusion for the Black community.
The media mogul — whose Entertainment Studios is the parent company of theGrio — put the fast-food giant on notice recently by filing suit for alleged racial discrimination. The CEO exclusively spoke with theGrio’s White House correspondent and D.C. Bureau Chief April Ryan about the necessity of pursuing his claims.
Black America accepting less than by corporations, Allen said, is a civil rights issue that can no longer be deferred.
“Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King‘s widow, expressed that we as Black people will have four major challenges in this country. Number one, end slavery. Number two, end Jim Crow. Number three, achieve civil rights, and number four, the real reason they killed my Martin — achieve economic inclusion,” Allen tells theGrio.
Allen referenced the Civil Rights Act of 1866 enacted for newly freed slaves to emphasize his point.
“This is the very first that was put on the books almost 160 years ago. It was put on the books to address economic inclusion for the newly freed slaves. That is the very first one. And here we are almost 160 years later and we still haven’t achieved economic inclusion,” he continued.
“And that is the greatest trade deficit in America, the trade deficit between white corporate America and Black America. And we have to close that gap to have real civil rights in America. This is the biggest pressing civil rights issue in America. All of this lack of economic inclusion, it’s giving a pathway to the other issues in our community.”
The businessman does not mince words about the practices of McDonald’s who have come under scrutiny by their own employees who have filed their own racial discrimination suit against the firm. TheGrio reported in February that the franchise with the famous golden arches was sued for allegedly relegating its Black owners to the toughest neighborhoods.
“We are suffering from economic genocide. We are suffering from economic exclusion. We have to close that gap and what I’ve said to Corporate America [is] you have to do business with Black America in a meaningful way and you just can’t look at us like we are a Negro problem and how little can I throw these Negroes so they shut up, go away and I can get back to my white privileged life,” Allen declared.
Byron Allen has been at the forefront of taking these companies to task with various lawsuits, including his battle with Comcast that reached the Supreme Court. He pushed back against the notion that his motives were rooted in anything other than holding the powerful to account.
“The only time that America wants to use the word Black is when they’re talking about a suspect. When it’s time to talk about money and it’s time to talk about economic inclusion and it involves Black people, then all of a sudden they start saying, terrorists, extortionists. Where is the extortion? You brought my Black [people] from Africa to build the most powerful, wealthiest nation in the world. That’s the extortion.”
Allen further highlighted the open letter signed by himself, Earl “Butch” Graves Jr. (President & CEO – Black Enterprise), Roland Martin (CEO, Nu Vision Media, Inc), Munson Steed (CEO of Rolling Out), Todd F. Brown PMP (Founder, Urban Edge Networks HBCU League Pass), and Junior Bridgeman of Ebony Media. It was directed to McDonald’s President and CEO Chris Kempczinski and demanded that the corporation stop discriminating against Black-owned media. According to Allen’s lawsuit, the budget for McDonald’s is $1.6 Billion.
However, Black outlets only receive a paltry $5 million in advertising dollars despite McDonald’s using the Black community for cultural influence.
“This isn’t just about Byron Allen. This is about everybody,” he maintained.
The Founder/Chairman/CEO of Allen Media Group made it clear that it was time to “come off the plantation. What is OK with somebody spending way over a billion a year advertising and Negroes get damn near zero. What is OK about that, Black America?”
He reminded the community of their lineage and deserved their equal share.
“You’re not a charity, you are kings and queens and literally royalty rolls through your blood. But yet you are still acting like it’s OK to treat me like nothing. That doesn’t work, Black America. If we’re gonna change our condition, we’re going to get a calculator and we’re going to know the numbers and we’re going to hold white Corporate America accountable. That’s what we’ve never done.”
Allen took pride in his place in history as “the first Negro to come along in over 400 years and sue Corporate America for now at this point over $50 billion.”
“Who’s next?” Ryan posed to the mogul.
“Everybody who’s not doing business with Black America,” he responded.
theGrio’s Stephanie Guerilus contributed to this report
Have you subscribed to theGrio’s podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and Roku. Download theGrio today!