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Posted By: Lloyd wynn on May 09, 2021

Blacks and the Transition to Renewable Energy

“The **** probably hired more black people than you all do.”
SC Legislator speaking to solar industry group

There are 2 inescapable facts occurring in the global community today:
1. There is an energy revolution happening at this very moment and
2. Blacks are ill-prepared to adapt and seize the moment.

We, Black folk, need to wrap our minds around the revolution that is occurring globally. The Paris agreement has been ratified by 190 countries, President Biden promised a $2 trillion “clean energy revolution” and 100% clean electricity by 2035. The majority of multi-national corporations and countless state and local governments have committed to a reduction in greenhouse gases. One of the primary methods of reducing carbon is transitioning to renewable energy and shifting away from carbo-based energy such as coal and ****.

The $2 trillion is what I would like to focus on because accessing that capital could help close the wealth gap so many activists and social justice commentators reference as proof of structural racism. My estimate is Blacks will receive less than .001 percent of the renewable energy and infrastructure spending that will be injected into the economy. This conclusion is based upon history and statistics.

In 2009 President Obama put then-Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). During ARRA’s first year $45 billion in direct federal contracts were awarded. Blacks, Latinos and women-owned business received only 5% of the contracts .

Similarly, as recent as 2020, Blacks and Latinos received less than an equitable distribution of the capital from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Moreover, under ARRA Biden presided over approximately $100 billion in public sector projects from 2009-2012 that overwhelming went to organized labor, not surprising, President Biden met with labor representatives from 10 of the larger trades unions on 2/17/21 to discuss the president’s Build Back Better plan.

The history of Blacks and the labor movement is dubious at best and need not be recounted here. Blacks in labor unions, not unlike what happens in society at large, tend to fill the lower echelon positions. Thus, the alleged 20% Black membership in unions, invariably receives the lower wages. But more importantly, we will not play a significant role in the distribution of capital that will flow from renewable energy and infrastructure spending to businesses that are recognized by unions.

The deficit of business capacity in the Black community is evident in the renewable energy industry. A survey of the 20,000-plus solar-related businesses in the US will reveal less than 100 are Black-owned. Blacks are not prepared to participate in the trend that is transforming the global economy. Therein lies our challenge. We need to scale up renewable energy businesses at warp speed to become relevant. Otherwise, it is the same script to the movie we have seen 100 times—we are positioned to get what trickles down.

Come with us on this journey to make our community relevant in the transition to renewable energy. We are the Black Alliance for Renewable Energy.

If you enjoyed this article, Join HBCU CONNECT today for similar content and opportunities via email!
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