‘A lot of Blacks are leaving because of the racism,’ says Bill, a 30-year veteran at Ford who didn’t want his last name used. ‘White folks get breaks; Black folks are held to the letter of the [work rules] law.’
Chrysler, Ford and GM have traditionally been the leaders in purchasing parts from Black-owned suppliers. But as their market share has fallen, so has their production and the number of parts that they need. With this trio recently announcing the closure of plants that build pickup trucks and full-size sport-utilities, the number of parts they purchase from Black-owned suppliers will shrink.
Continuing to shift back and forth between the general and the particular, Ebony writes:
Bill Pickard is founder of the Global Automotive Alliance. One of his Detroit-area companies supplies plastic fuel delivery systems to automakers and employs 400 people. He summed up what’s at stake, saying:
‘We [Black-owned automotive suppliers] are the children of the ’60s,’ Pickard says. ‘There’s nobody behind us. If we go out of business, there’s no one to replace us. So we must survive in order to pass on our businesses either through inheritance or through a succession of ownership.’
Even worse, when minority suppliers disappear, they almost never return and other companies don’t rise to take their place, says Rainbow Push’s [Glenda] Gill. The same can be said of any area in the automotive industry in which Blacks have a presence.
This is the kind of article we need to see more often. It helps us understanding the big picture of the crisis by highlighting its effect on communities while showing how current economic forces are reshaping them.
For a historian’s take on blacks and the U.S. auto industry, take a look at this brief synopsis. These facts informed the Ebony article, and they should inform other reporting as well.