Erie County, PA Awards Huge Grants to Non-White Businesses Only


When I first saw this story on Twitter, I wrongly assumed that it must be some sort of disinformation. The poster was claiming that Erie County, Pennsylvania had handed out $300,000 in grants (not loans) to a number of businesses around the county. But there was one catch. The businesses had to be run by minorities. Businesses owned by white people need not apply.

It turned out to not be disinformation at all. There were even images made available showing that the checks had "DEI" emblazoned on the comment line. The checks were distributed by Diverse Erie, formerly known as the Erie County Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Commission. The money for the grants was drawn from the 2021 American Rescue Plan COVID relief fund, providing only the latest example of ARP funds being flushed into things that have absolutely nothing to do with COVID. (Tennessee Star)

Diverse Erie, formerly known as the Erie County Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission, on Friday distributed $300,000 in federal grant money.

The organization restricted the money to individuals that are part of the “BIPOC community,” which includes black, indigenous and all people of color, indicating only whites were precluded from applying for the funds.

Diverse Erie Chief Administrative Officer Gary Lee confirmed in a video posted to Facebook, “This was the 2024 Small Business Mini Investment to the small business community as it pertains to BIPOC community.”

Right up front, I will note that finding grant money for small businesses isn't the worst thing that the government (at any level) could be doing with your tax dollars. Everyone trying to survive through the era of Bidenomics could probably use a helping hand from time to time. And the amounts being given out through individual grants weren't really breaking the bank. They ranged from $5,000 to $20,000. 

With all of that said it appears that nobody wants to be impolite enough to point out that this relief program is absolutely illegal and unconstitutional. When distributing federal funds through relief programs or other avenues, that relief cannot be restricted by race or similar factors. That remains true even if the race being excluded is white people. You can find that right in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act and the Supreme Court has upheld that rule previously. Of course, we're living in the Biden era now and people seem to just do whatever they feel like or find politically beneficial and simply ignore the Supreme Court if they think they can get away with it.

It's also worth noting the rather useless nature of programs such as this, even if they were legal. Back in the 90s, I did some contracting work for a company that received Pentagon contracts for the renovation of naval vessels. The bidding process for those contracts came with a catch, however. The contracts were "set-asides" that were reserved for female-owned businesses. The company was registered in the name of a woman, so that made them eligible. But the woman was the wife of the guy who actually ran the company. Nobody who worked there ever saw her except at the occasional holiday party. It was a complete scam.

The same goes for set-asides based on race. Your company can list itself as being owned by a Black person or other minority, but do they really run the operation and make all of the business decisions? And precisely "how Black" (or Hispanic or Indigenous) would your supposed owner have to be to qualify for one of these grants? Would an owner with one Black parent and one white parent qualify? How about one Black grandparent? My genetic testing profile revealed that I'm more than one-quarter Native American by ancestry, though I've never lived on tribal lands or been registered with any tribal council. Would I qualify for a check if I signed up?

This entire project in Erie County is just more racist nonsense intended to stir up voters during an election cycle, even if it happens to be "reverse racism" in this case. It's needlessly divisive and likely isn't doing all that much that's significantly productive. We need Congress to be working on a way to claw back all of the remaining COVID relief money that's floating around out there and put it toward paying down the national debt. I'm not enough of a hopeless optimist to believe that's going to happen, but if it did, the people working on such a measure would have my full support.

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