The NFL has reached out to hip hop mogul and entrepreneur O’Shea Jackson Sr., better known as Ice Cube, to bridge the gap of opportunity and wealth for Black-owned businesses, as reported in the Feb. 2022 issue of The Final Call.
“Troy Vincent and Roger Goodell really came to us and said, ‘Hey, what can we do in our business to help bridge this wealth gap?’” said Ice Cube on the Pat McAfee Show, according to the article. Mr. Goodell is the NFL Commissioner and Mr. Vincent is executive vice president of football operations.
Ice Cube’s work with the Contract With Black America Institute attracted the attention of the NFL. The Institute encourages investment in and aide to Black-owned business. The involvement of the NFL will mean more Black-owned food vendors in football stadiums and more Black manufacturers, production companies, and marketing and advertising agencies in the league’s operations, according to a Forbes Magazine report cited in the article.
To date, the NFL has committed $100 million to causes for the Institute and has allocated $125 million in support of Black-owned businesses over the past year as a part of its agenda to be more inclusive.
“For more than a year, the CWBA Institute has been working closely with the NFL on identifying resources to build stronger, more substantive economic partnerships with the Black community,” Ice Cube said in a statement. “Our team at the CWBA, including my longtime business partner and entertainment business lawyer Jeff Kwatinetz, and advisors Ja’Ron Smith and Chris Pilkerton, are focused on building corporate partnerships with measurable economic growth outcomes for Black communities across the country. We believe this is a giant step in the right direction.”
Aspiring Black comic book business owner and artist, San Quentin resident Orlando Smith, is familiar with the lack of representation of minority businesses in numerous business sectors. After submitting his work to 24 exhibits, it is finally being presented in art displays this year from July to September.
“Ice Cube learned the market and he recognized the disenfranchised of being at a disadvantage, and he stepped up and is doing something about it,” Smith said. “Although Blacks are just a small piece of the market, our Black dollars mean a lot.”
However, the hip hop mogul received backlash from some Blacks when he initially introduced his CWBA Initiative after calling out the Democratic Party to take up more interest in its platform, said the article.
In his interview on the Pat McAfee Show, Ice Cube emphasized the importance of what Black customers, Black workers, and the Black audience mean to businesses and arenas where players are majority Black, but Black owners and businesses make up only a small percentage.
The NFL also lacks Black coaches, and is facing a discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit filed by Brian Flores, former head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
The league also experienced backlash on how it handled the situation with former San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is still looking for an NFL job after inspiring the take-a-knee movement to protest systemic racism and police brutality.
Regarding Ice Cube’s efforts, the developer of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad of the Nation of Islam House, Sajah Wendy Muhammad, expressed her careful optimism. “If it’s something that’s just to get more Black customers, it can be short lived. So, could it be a good thing? Yes; but I hope that Ice Cube is pushing for ownership and development,” said Muhammad.