WILL Challenges New Racially Discriminatory Business Program
The News: Today, in support of true “Equality Under the Law” for all Americans, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) called upon the City of Madison to reform its BizReady Program, which is a new initiative aimed at supporting only BIPOC entrepreneurs. BIPOC is a racially exclusive term, referring to “Black, Indigenous, People of Color” populations.
If Madison runs its program as expected, in addition to excluding all white entrepreneurs, many other populations—from the Middle East, North Africa, North Asia, and Latin America—will also be excluded based purely on race.
Race discrimination is prohibited by federal law, as recently explained in detail by the Supreme Court in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard. WILL plans legal action if the program is not opened to all racial groups.
The Quote: Dan Lennington, WILL Deputy Counsel, stated, “The City of Madison says it wants new entrepreneurs, but only if they are the right color. This type of bigoted policy has no place in America. It’s time for Madison to reject discrimination and open the program to all entrepreneurs, regardless of race.”
Additional Background: In July, the City of Madison created the BizReady Program, which is a “training, technical assistance, and micro-enterprise funding initiative.” The program will award “Micro-grants,” in the amount of $3,000, and will also be available to “at least” 25 entrepreneurs.
The program’s most notable feature is that it discriminates based on race. Madison says the program’s goal is “supporting BIPOC populations,” encouraging “BIPOC business ownership,” and “support[ing] the development of BIPOC entrepreneurs across the city.” In short, the City’s new program is only available to certain races.
The program will likely be run by a non-profit entity. WILL notes that this entity will also be liable under federal law for discrimination. Madison’s contract documents indicate that any person awarded the BizReady administrator contract will indemnify and hold harmless the city for all damages.
Equality Under the Law: Since 2021, WILL’s Equality Under the Law Project has represented dozens of individuals and businesses from around the country to enforce the basic guarantees of equal treatment. More information can be found at DefendEquality.org.
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- Letter, August 1, 2023