City Council’s Double Standard: Standing with Some, Turning on Others

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

So, Columbus City Council made headlines again, and not for reasons we hoped. They stood with pro-Palestine folks, passing a resolution for peace in Gaza—Bill Bush from the Columbus Dispatch spelled it all out. But when it came down to standing with Black-owned businesses? That’s another story.

After a ton of pressure, protests, and back-and-forth, the council unanimously called for an end to the violence in Gaza. It’s big; it shows they can listen, act, and take a stand when they really want to. Meanwhile, Black voters and entrepreneurs got a cold shoulder. The same council that showed it could rally for international peace somehow decided noncitizens should dive into the city contract pool—right alongside us, competing for the same slices of the pie.

It’s like we’re shouting into a void. We’ve been loyal, voting for these folks, celebrating them, even when they keep dropping the ball. They’ve opened the gates, letting noncitizens chase after the same certifications we fought tooth and nail for—MBE, FBE, you name it. They know they can get away with it, that we’ll keep taking pictures with them, smiling, as if nothing’s wrong. They bet on our forgiveness or maybe our forgetfulness. And to add insult to injury, they disrespected and discounted the pleas from the local branch of the NAACP and other Black vendors. The honorary white woman on the council nonchalantly waved her hands and motioned for a vote without further discussion or debate. Shannon and Nick, Black men, voted with her. 

It’s time to stop being the backdrop for their campaign photos. The council’s action—or should I say, inaction—towards Black businesses isn’t just disappointing; it’s a betrayal. We need more than resolutions and handshakes. We need actions that uplift Black-owned businesses, ensuring we’re not sidelined in our own city. Let’s remember this come election time. Are they standing with us, or just standing by watching as opportunities slip through our fingers? They need to pay a penalty for diluting the inclusion pool. They should wear their betrayal like a scarlet letter.

Don’t hang out with them. Don’t smile for their photos. Make them understand the weight of their decisions. When they dilute the inclusion pool, pushing aside Black businesses after ignoring our voices, they’re not just making a policy choice. They’re making a moral error, showing a blatant disregard for equity and justice.

We deserve better. We need leaders who fight for us with the same vigor they show on international issues. It’s not just about contracts; it’s about respect, equity, and recognizing the backbone of this city—its Black entrepreneurs. Are we going to let this slide? Or are we going to stand up and demand the respect and support our businesses deserve? It’s time for a change, and it starts with us holding them accountable. Let’s remind them that their positions are not just about passing resolutions; they’re about representing us all fairly and justly.

just my thoughts…rwb