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Functioning as a Green Book” for the economy, the Black Dollar Index seeks to guide spending for those committed to racial equity. Launched by a group of Black professionals, the consumer advocacy index claims to measure corporate support and dedication towards Black America.

The group behind the Black Dollar Initiative wants to make it clear that promises and donations alone are not enough. According to their website, the Black Dollar Initiative aims to hold corporations accountable in serving Black employees, consumers, and communities. It also seeks to empower Black consumers in making purchasing decisions. 

The power of the Black dollar remains crucial, as the descendants of chattel slavery flux their spending power. Black domestic spending is estimated at $1.4 trillion annually. Nielsen’s Diverse Intelligence Series on Black consumers and economic influence released a report last October showing Black consumers were 37 percent more likely to expect brands they buy to support social causes. 

A central fixture of the Black Dollar Initiative, the index rating relies on factors including whether the corporation employs a diversity and inclusion initiative, in addition to a supplier diversity program, the quantity of Black people within management, corporate leadership and the board of directors, and whether the organization has a Black CEO. Other factors include known “negative racial” claims and disclosed investment in Black initiatives, both within the past five years.

But given limitations in available data, the areas measured by the Black Dollar Index do not account for the experiences of Black and other frontline workers of color. Data from the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan congressional watchdog effort, showed that several major corporations had workers enrolled in government programs like Medicaid and SNAP. 

Protests over the summer forced a conversation on racial justice and equity across industries. Many leading corporations announced commitments to racial justice, while others were critiqued over their lack of access to equity for their employees. Apple announced a $100 million initiative covering three projects, including a $25 million allocation to a learning center for HBCUs. Walmart recently donated $14 million to 16 nonprofit organizations to advance racial equity in education and health care. 

Conversations continue as large scale organizations like Amazon are called out over their alleged mistreatment of workers during the pandemic.

Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.

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