By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

The campaign of Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden and running mate Senator Kamala Harris will again focus on the progression of Black men in America, with its latest installment in the ongoing “Shop Talk” digital broadcast.

The campaign began the “Shop Talk” series specifically to engage Black men across the country around the issues they’re most concerned with. 

The virtual event airs tonight, (Thursday, Sept. 10), at 7 p.m. ET, and features acclaimed actor Don Cheadle and the Rev. Dr. Howard-John Wesley of the Alfred Street Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.   

The National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) will serve as the official media partner for the event and will livestream the conversation on its digital platforms. 

Music executive and pop culture expert Mike Muse will moderate the discussion which will focus on the threats and risks to Black men’s safety and vitality under a second term for the Trump administration.  

“It’s important that we have this conversation because for so long we always looked at outreach in the Black community as going to church, and to the barbershop and beauty salons,” said Muse, who, by intersecting politics and pop culture, uses his platform to create social change. 

Muse also hosts SiriusXM’s award-winning, “The Mike Muse Show,” and co-hosts “Sway in the Morning.” 

“The beauty of this being virtual is that we go out in the spirit of the barbershop, which is where everyone gets to have their voice heard, and everyone gets to participate,” Muse noted. “I’m thankful for the Biden-Harris campaign realizing that they have to go to places and spaces to meet us.”

He continued:

“Far too often, [the subject of ] “Black men” isn’t [at] the center of the conversation, and the only time you heard Black men come up was around the criminalization aspect, criminal justice reform. We never saw the fullness or wholeness of the Black man, and I’ve been advocating since I was an ambassador for President Barack Obama’s ‘My Brother’s Keeper’ program.”

Earlier this year, the then Democratic Presidential Nominee Joe Biden released his “Lift Every Voice” Plan for Black America, which would tackle systemic racism, and the Racial Economic Equity Plan, to advance the economic mobility of Black Americans.  

In Biden’s plan to invest in African American Businesses and Entrepreneurs, the Democrat notes that approximately 4 percent of small business owners are African American, even though African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the population. 

To build wealth in African American communities, “we must invest in the success of African American businesses and entrepreneurs.,” Biden has stated.  

His plan ensures equal access to credit and capital, noting that African American businesses often lack the capital they need to succeed.  

According to the Biden campaign, African American businesses are rejected at nearly 20 percent higher than white-owned firms. Even worse, African American businesses that do get funding receive only 40 percent of the funds requested compared to 70 percent for white companies.  

Biden said he will double funding for the State Small Business Credit Initiative to increase investment and access to capital. 

“The importance of having ‘Shop Talk’ is that a lot of times, these campaigns have a misunderstanding that every single American is reading their platform, reading their white paper and policies,” Muse told NNPA Newswire.  

“But, often, Americans are so busy trying to protect their families. A lot of Black men are looking at their families in terms of whether to send them back to school and what it would look like for work, so the Biden-Harris campaign has realized that activation is needed to highlight their policies and to have a discussion. More importantly, to listen to Black men and find out what their needs are. I look at ‘Shop Talk’ as a listening session as well.” 

The campaign noted that the Barack Obama-Joe Biden Administration created the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) to support small businesses, which drove $10 billion in new lending for each $1 billion in SSBCI funds.  

As president, Biden plans to extend the program through 2025 and double its federal funding to $3 billion, driving close to $30 billion of private sector investments to small businesses all told, especially those owned by women and people of color.  

In laying out his Build Back Better plan, Biden has announced bold investments – in infrastructure, innovation, manufacturing, education, housing, clean energy, federal procurement, and small businesses.  

As the fourth pillar of the Build Back Better Agenda, Biden has announced how he will direct many of these investments to advance racial equity as part of our nation’s economic recovery.

Muse said he expects “Shop Talk” to produce a well-rounded conversation.

“I love a good soapbox moment, but my specialty is not allowing the soapbox to continue,” he stated. 

“At some point, we have to drive the conversation to a solution. We have to drive the conversation to what are the needs of Black men. I’m here on behalf of the Biden-Harris campaign, but really to hold the seat for all Black men who aren’t able to tune in and aren’t able to ask questions. To make sure that their voices are heard in the campaign and to be a bridge-builder and connector, make sure that there is purpose and follow-up from the campaign.”