Jun 30, 2022 - Sports

NFL partners with Ice Cube on racial equality initiative

Ice Cube at the NFL Draft

Ice Cube at the NFL Draft in April. Photo: Jeff Speer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NFL is teaming up with Ice Cube's Contract with Black America Institute to bolster its partnerships with Black-owned businesses, the league announced Thursday.

Driving the news: The partnership aims to help close the racial wealth gap by finding league-wide "opportunities in the financial, tech, and production sectors" with a focus on increasing spending toward national Black businesses.

Details: The NFL said it will accelerate the funding it has already provided to Black-owned businesses, which totals over $125 million over the past year, according to the news release.

  • Ice Cube said the CWBA has been working with the NFL for over a year to find "corporate partnerships with measurable economic growth outcomes for Black communities across the country," per the press release.
  • Other partners in broader NFL plans to invest in Black-owned businesses include CityFirst/Broadway Bank, Cover Communications, and Fearless Technology.

What they're saying: "We feel like if you tackle the huge wealth gap between Black people and white people in this country, that should solve a lot of problems that's there," Ice Cube said on the AP Pro Football Podcast.

  • "Our thing was to go after some of the biggest companies in the country that rely on Black consumers or Black workers, and the biggest one that we focused in on was the NFL," he continued.
  • NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said "[w]e understand these businesses have not always had the opportunity for exponential growth, so we are pleased to have partners like Ice Cube and his organization, CWBA, in a continued, collective push toward greater economic inclusion,"

Zoom out: The NFL has long faced concerns surrounding its attitudes on race. Goodell in 2020 said the league was "wrong for not listening to NFL players" on race after former quarterback Colin Kaepernick sued the league in 2018 saying he was blacklisted because of his on-field protests.

  • Last year, the league agreed to halt the use of "race-norming," a practice that assumed Black players had a lower level of cognition, meaning that they had to show a larger cognitive decline than other players to qualify for a concussion settlement. They eventually ended the practice later last year.
  • In February, former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores sued the NFL and each of its franchises for racial discrimination. At the time of the lawsuit, there was only one Black head coach despite over 70% of NFL players being Black.

Go deeper: 10 myths about the racial wealth gap

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