Many of my Non-Black friends and colleagues have asked how I am doing, what I make of the recent events and what they can do to support as allies. Below is my candid and transparent attempt at answering those questions.
“When a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw.” – Nelson Mandela
The protests and events that unfolded last weekend are the culmination of ~400 years (slavery in the US began in 1619 when it was a British colony) of the cruelty to, oppression of, discrimination against, and institutional racism targeted at Black people in America. The recent murder of Mr. George Floyd and the failure to arrest the responsible police officers, the hunting and execution of Mr. Ahmaud Abrey and the untimely arrests of the three white men responsible, and the attempted weaponization of Mr. Chris Cooper’s race by a White woman that was inconvenienced are the latest of thousands of crimes and micro aggressions against Black people in America and served as the tipping point. WE’RE TIRED AND WE FEEL VERY ALONE!
Black people in America are tired, tired of:
- being murdered
- being presumed guilty and arrested/ jailed at higher rates
- not being afforded a swift and fair trial
- teaching our children that they must behave different than white children because it could cost them their lives (the conversation)
- being denied for home/ business loans that we objectively qualify for
- being pulled over in our cars at much higher rates than our White friends
- being stopped for/questioned about being in upper class neighborhoods/ spaces
- being required to be twice as good to be considered for opportunities
- our companies and funds being funded at far lesser rates
- being called aggressive when we speak at the same volume as others during a debate
- generally being viewed as less than
- being scared for our lives and of what this society might do to us every single day
“To ignore evil is to become accomplice to it.” “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
We appreciate the text messages, calls, and social media posts of empathy. Thank you for voicing your support and using your platform to speak out about these injustices. BUT…words without action ring hollow and are meaningless. So, do not vote for racist politicians or laws because you believe they will benefit you economically (they won’t). Use your privilege to step in when you see injustice or an act of discrimination taking place. Vote locally for officials that have track records of supporting policies that promote fairness and racial equality. White parents should educate their children on topics of equality and their responsibility to ensure that Black children do not experience the same exhaustion that comes with being Black in America today.
Speaking more directly to the venture capital and entrepreneurial ecosystem. Earlier this year, I partnered with the Kauffman Fellows and the Kauffman Foundation on a research project to better understand diverse representation within startups and the performance of startups led by diverse founding teams versus those led by all White teams. The findings were staggering:
- Blacks are underrepresented in the executive ranks of startups by 82%
- More than 75% of all rounds raised go to all White founding teams
- Diverse founding and executive teams generate higher median realized multiples (RMs) on acquisitions and IPOs than all White founding and executive teams (3.3x to 2.5x and 3.3x to 2x respectively)
So, if you are truly opposed to racism and discrimination, something you can start to do immediately is stop making excuses for not investing in startups and funds led by Black men and women. Instead, make the investments, extend your networks, hire us in leadership/ decision making roles, and hold us to the same standards that you do for White led startups and venture funds.