- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2002

The buying power of blacks increased 96 percent from 1990 to 2001, and 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies have formal diversity programs, according to a report that will be released next week.
The 925-page publication, compiled by research groups Business Women's Network and Diversity Best Practices, also notes that black consumers outspend white consumers in several product lines, including consumer electronics, cars and trucks, and telephone service.
"This is data that is ammunition," said Edie Fraser, president of both groups. "This is a celebration of where we are and how well we are all doing."
She said the notion of an oppressed minority group is fading, as more strides are taken each year.
"This should wake up all leadership," Miss Fraser said. "We are all doing well; we are making huge gains, and it won't stop."
Much of the growth cited in the report, which is a compendium of data and facts published in the past year from several sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, points to the unprecedented prosperity of the nation's black population.
The report, called "Wow! Facts," details significant growth indicators:
The collective income of blacks grew by 10.8 percent from 1999, to $543 billion.
By the year 2015, white college students will be the minority on campuses in California, the District, Hawaii and New Mexico. Minorities made up more than 34 percent of those who took the SATs in 2001. Twenty-seven percent of college students were minorities in 2001.
From 1997 to 2002, the number of privately held firms owned by women will have grown by 14 percent. They number 9.1 million.
Female-owned businesses are opening at twice the rate of male-owned businesses.
The report devotes a chapter to the prevalence of "network groups" within private corporations, which are described as "grassroots-driven groups of employees formed around a characteristic of diversity that are used to provide employees with professional development and networking programs."
Sixty-eight of the nation's largest corporations report having such groups.
"I am thrilled to be a part of the launch of 'WOW! Facts,' a crucial resource documenting the impact of women and minorities in this nation," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Michigan Democrat.
Mrs. Stabenow is expected to be part of a gathering of female senators at a ceremony Wednesday to present the report.
The report reflects a social reality that contradicts the portrayal of downtrodden minorities espoused by such groups as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, according to public officials and researchers.
"I hear people talking in terms of progress on a regular basis, and it is not unusual," said David Bositis, who studies black issues at the Washington-based Joint Center for Political and Economic studies. He said minorities and women are still catching up in terms of business and economic equality but that "a lot of this will just take time, for example, for estates to develop."
Michael Steele, the chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, who is black, said the report's findings are not surprising.
"This is recognizing the third element of Martin Luther King Jr.'s agenda. First was civil rights; the second was political representation; and the third, which he did not get a chance to fulfill was economic empowerment. These mechanisms have been put in place, enabling us to achieve the American Dream. And people like [Black Entertainment Television founder] Bob Johnson are able to capitalize."

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