Technology giant Google is singling out Black-owned businesses with special labels in order to support this specific demographic during the coronavirus pandemic.
In its search engine, Google has begun identifying businesses owned by Blacks with a “Black-owned” label. The company has also issued instructions on how Blacks can receive the label.
Google’s move is seen as an attempt to copy Black Lives Matter activists who put similar signs on shops and restaurants run by Blacks, a trend that began following the death of George Floyd and the nationwide riots and protests that it sparked.
Black store owners not only put up the signs to increase business but in some cases also to protect their businesses from looters and rioters. For example, some sign placed in a business in Philadelphia read “BLACK OWNED DON’T LOOT”.
Google embraces wokeness
For Google, the “Black-owned” designation is not the only one. The so-called highlights section of Google, which draws attention to the peculiarities of a given place or business, can also state, for example, that the company is run by women or that it is suitable for the LGBT community.
Companies run mostly by Whites males, such as most of the major tech companies in Silicon Valley, will not receive any such designation.
According to Google, use of this new function has been increasing on the Internet.
“We’ve seen an increase in searches for African-American businesses recently. It’s inspiring to see that so many people are trying to invest in the Black community,“ said Jewel Burks Soloman of the start-up support department on behalf of Google.
“By adding this attribute, we want to make the search and use of our maps more inclusive. We want to help support African-American-owned businesses when they need it the most,“ said Burks Solomon about the controversial measures.
Google has also recently donated $12 million to Black Lives Matter, a movement where it is estimated that only one in six of the protesters involved were Black people. Other elements of the Black Lives Matter platform include defunding the police, a position that the vast majority of the Black community rejects according to polling from Gallup. The poll showed that 80 percent of Blacks reject the “abolish the police” agenda. In fact, 60 percent of Blacks were happy with the police presence in their neighborhoods and another 21 percent wanted even more police.
Google is also increasingly embracing identity politics and elements of “woke” culture. The company has dramatically reduced the reach of conservative outlets like Breitbart on its platform, resulting in a 99.7 percent drop in search results for Breitbart content since 2016, which marked the year Donald Trump was elected president. The Daily Caller has since reported the same type of search result suppression from Google that Breitbart has experienced.
Is Google looking to deflect criticism?
Google may be resorting to cosmetic changes to its search results to cover up some the real issues with diversity the company faces, including discrimination against Blacks. Like many tech companies in Silicon Valley, its share of Black employees is incredibly low. In 2020, it was just 3.7 percent despite Blacks making up over 11 percent of the U.S. population. In 2014, it was just 2.4 percent, and only has improved after the company faced extreme backlash.
Many of its Black workers are not in lucrative tech or managerial positions either despite the company claiming it invests substantial efforts to recruit Black employees.
Google, for its part, actually has a greater share of Black employees than many other major tech companies in Silicon Valley that claim to be progressive and “diverse”. The Valley, as a whole, remains predominately Asian and White despite diversity reports these companies are required to release annually.
Following the death of George Floyd in May, and a continuing wave of protests, technology giants, including Google, have been accused of failing to fight alleged racism. The company, through its subsidiary YouTube, has also responded with the creation of a $100 million (€85 million) fund to support Black creators and artists.
The search engine also decided to ban advertising for jobs, loans, or real estate based on criteria such as gender, which, according to the company, could lead to discrimination.
Other companies with a severe lack of Black employees, such as Twitter, have committed to stop using terms such as master, slave, or blacklist in its documents and communications, which have been used by programmers around the world for decades. The social network wants to replace these words with less controversial expressions.
Other private companies also carefully evaluate their names or logos and change those that allegedly carry racial stereotypes. However, social networks, in particular, are facing increasing pressure recently. Hundreds of companies, including giants, such as Unilever, Coca-Cola, and Starbucks, stopped advertising on Facebook until it begins removing allegedly hateful content from its platform.
Title image: In this Wednesday, June 24, 2020, photograph, a sign in the window informs passersby that Spokehouse Bikes in the Upham’s Corner neighborhood of Boston is a Black-owned business. Many from outside Boston have donated to and shopped at the store which was robbed and vandalized earlier in the month. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)