Caroline Wanga, Detavio Samuels, and Jason Lee discussed the issues faced by Black-owned media during a panel discussion at Revolt World, held in Atlanta this past weekend.
Wanga, CEO of Essence Magazine; Samuels, CEO of Revolt; and Jason Lee, owner of Hollywood Unlocked, all shared their experiences as executives.
Samuels revealed that under 1 percent of advertising dollars are allocated to Black-owned media.
Wanga followed by sharing that Black-targeted media isn’t the same as Black-owned media.
“The problem with Black-targeted versus Black-owned is that Black-targeted does not return that money back to Black. Every dollar you give to Black-targeted media does not come back to our community. It does not create Black generational wealth. It does not create a reality where economic inclusion is a human right. Those dollars go back to somebody else. The difference between Black-owned and Black-targeted is that the dollar stays with us, comes back to us, and gets multiplied by us. And it continues to drive generational wealth. Everybody can participate in Black culture, but you must pay for it at its full value and you must pay the culture that develops it. The revolution must be financed at full value.”
Wanga also congratulated Lee for calling out the segregation that often occurs during prominent red carpets. Black media is often placed in secluded areas on the red carpet and usually miss top-tier talent.
“One of my favorite statements you’ve made is about red carpets when talent will go to every other outlet except the Black ones,” Wanga said. “But my add on to what Jason said is really tied to economics. You’re right. There is no problem with Black media. If you’re paying us at the value of what you’re pilfering from us. This isn’t about only Black people that can partake in Black media and can participate in Black culture. It can be for all, but you need to return the full value to the group that creates it.”
Lee shared that he became aware of the lack of corporate dollars put back into the Black community when he worked with Kanye West during his partnership with Adidas.
“The seven months that I was working with Kanye and having meetings with Adidas, I had a conversation with the Vice President of Adidas,” Lee said. “I asked how much money has Kanye made Adidas. They said $3 billion. I said out of that $3 billion, how much money have you put back into the Black community? They said they had no marketing budget because they didn’t need it. Everybody will buy the Yeezy if they put it out tomorrow. I asked if they felt some type of obligation to put 5% back into programming…I can come in and say, ‘Nah, that ain’t right.’ You just want Black people who are cool to wear your [stuff]. We’re not doing that. Why aren’t you investing in Black? And I think you know, when you look at models like Essence or you see what Detavio and Diddy have done with Revolt, you know that it’s possible for people like me to come up and start a company from Instagram. And then be able to do it in a way that gets to a $50 million valuation without selling the keys to the people that don’t really care about the culture.”