Hip-hop mogul and digital media entrepreneur Sean “Diddy” Combs says he’s tired of the corporate confederacy manipulating Black culture for its own bottom line.
Diddy claims that corporations such as General Motors have exploited Black culture, “undermined our power and excluded Black entrepreneurs from participating in the value created by Black consumers.”
Diddy went on the record with his opinion in an open letter to corporate America, published on April 8 on Revolt, the music-oriented digital cable TV network he founded and launched in 2013.
He noted that while brands spent $239 billion on advertising in 2019, less than 1 percent of that was invested in Black-owned media companies. He also claimed that of the $3 billion GM spent on ads, only $10 million was invested in Black-owned media, Billboard reported.
Corporate confederacy has been described by Black scholars and politicians as corporations using Black culture to advance their finances and directives.
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Diddy demanded compensation for Black creators in the letter, which was titled, “If You Love Us, Pay Us: A Letter From Sean Combs to Corporate America.”
“We demand that Corporate America reinvest an equitable percentage of what you take from our community back into our community. If the Black community represents 15 percent of your revenue, Black-owned media should receive at least 15 percent of the advertising spend. The same way you understand the power of our dollars, we understand our power to take them away from any corporation that doesn’t give us the economic inclusion we deserve. We are prepared to weaponize our dollars,” Diddy wrote.
Some Twitter users found Diddy’s message ironic, considering he too is part of corporate America.
“Diddy is demanding that GM – a company that decimated the Black middle class in the Midwest without a care & was saved by the auto bailout – ‘reinvest’ in the ‘Black community’ by giving Revolt ad dollars,” tweeted one.
Another Twitter user said, “you helped them capture & sell hip-hop into slavery … diddy was using sweatshop in honduras to make sean john, refusing to pay his starving + broke artists, still hoarding (largely black) artists’ masters, and is of the generation that was instrumental in hip-hop’s commercialization & corporatization, so the irony here is incredible”
One person said that Diddy needed to challenge Black corporate America: “diddy… about a 150 million away from being a BILLIONAIRE diddy is shaming white corporations for a capitalist business model he almost completely replicated abolish the black capitalist industrial complex”.
Diddy is riding the wave of corporate confrontation started by media mogul Byron Allen, owner of one of the largest cable network portfolios in the industry. The owner of the Weather Channel, Allen unleashed on GM with a full-page ad in the Detroit Free Press on March 28 calling GM CEO Mary Barra racist. The letter called for increased GM advertising in Black-owned media outlets and was signed by several notables such as Ice Cube.
GM ultimately caved and agreed to a meeting and to spend increased ad dollars in the Black press.
“When confronted by the leaders of several Black-owned media companies, General Motors (GM) listed my network, Revolt, as an example of the Black-owned media it supports,” Diddy wrote, noting that Revolt receives ad revenue from the carmaker, but does not consider that an example of success.
“Instead, Revolt, just like other Black-owned media companies, fights for crumbs while GM makes billions of dollars every year from the Black community,” Diddy continued.
“Exposing GM’s historic refusal to fairly invest in Black-owned media is not an assassination of character, it’s exposing the way GM and many other advertisers have always treated us,” Combs added. “No longer can Corporate America manipulate our community into believing that incremental progress is acceptable action.”