The old adage, ‘where there is smoke, there is fire’ has been ringing true about the way the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD) has handled minority, particularly Black, contractors. The blatant disrespect and downright disregard of the racial minority business contractors who apply, and are continually overlooked, for bids with the district.
But let’s set the tone. In the North Dallas Gazette’s Aug. 23 article by Contributing Writer David Wilfong entitled Dallas ISD responds to concerns from Black contractors, addressed questions regarding the surge in complaints from Black contractors. These DFW contractors believe they are being overlooked as white male contractors put businesses in their wives’ name. This end-run allows them an advantage when bidding on projects with the districts. These immoral, yet not illegal, practices are costing Black contractors opportunities with the Dallas ISD as well as causing financial constraints.
Wilfong reported from his interview with John Proctor, president of the Dallas Black Contractors Association that Proctor estimates Black businesses are getting approximately one percent of the work with Dallas ISD, maybe up to three percent with the city, and only about one percent of the work with private businesses. He said they spend more time sitting on the bench waiting for work than they do performing work for Dallas ISD.
These numbers are insulting and downright disrespectful. It leaves us to ask how ridiculous and insulting for the metroplex’s official school district to partake in heinous and immoral practices against Black contractors? Who does the district have working for them if they cannot determine Black contractors are being overlooked by White women posing as minority contractors, who in reality may not even know what an Allen Wrench is? Of course, we realize there are plenty of qualified women in the construction industry, but we also know White male business owners are putting businesses in the names of White women simply to gain a competitive advantage.
But are we truly surprised with the district’s discriminatory practices against Black contractors? Are we surprised false information is often sent out or dispersed through the media with statistical data that suggests minority-owned firms are awarded contracts, when in fact those same awarded bids are never completed by the Black-owned firms listed? The point we are striving to make is that thanks to manipulation, sometimes the numbers do actually lie! Black minority-owned contracting firms are continually overlooked and disregarded when attempting to partner with the Dallas ISD because of the district’s discriminatory practices.
If you think the district cares about Black contractors just take a look at how they deal with their Black students. Within the past three years, various news coverage has included students protesting for a better learning environment. Parents have protested because of the closing of schools. In predominately Black communities, the schools and textbooks are beyond outdated.
So the question becomes, does Dallas ISD even respect Blacks at all? From the looks of how the district treats their students, the parents, and now the contractors who are bidding on various opportunities with a one percent success rate, we believe they do not respect Blacks.
We applaud Dallas ISD Trustees Joyce Foreman, District 6; Bernadette Nutall, Trustee; Dr. Lew Blackburn, District 5 for their on-going efforts in being the voice for the students and listening to the concerns of parents relating to several key issues. However, we call upon each of them to do more to address the continual challenges Black contractors have with the district’s procurement process. With more economic opportunities available the community can grow, the children have an opportunity to have work and training to build a brighter future for themselves, and they have a chance to be empowered by seeing thriving Black-owned businesses making a difference daily.
No longer are the racist buffoons hiding behind white sheets lurking in the night waiting to burn the crosses. No, they sport button down pressed shirts with slacks and penny loafers. They smile and shake the contractor’s contractors hand while hoping our color does not stain their hand. They listen intently to our desires to grow our business if we are awarded bids. Then they place our bids in the dark places and bury our hopes with denial letters.
Dallas ISD officials, are you going to continue to allow the disparity to continue? Or are you going to truly work with Black contractors?