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Fearless Fund Verdict A Blow, But Black Women Move Forward


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The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals dealt a blow to Black women founders yesterday when it ruled that the Fearless Fund, an organization established exclusively to provide grants and training to black women founders to help them grow their businesses, was unconstitutional.


The Fearless Fund Verdict

In the 2-1 Fearless Fund verdict, the court panel temporarily blocked the fund saying that it amounted to a race-based set-aside and was therefore illegal.


Fearless Fund’s Strivers Grant Contest provides $20,000 in business funding to Black women-owned businesses. It’s a devastating blow to these businesses as they are chronically left out of funding opportunities.

 

Black Women Entrepreneurs Receive Less Than 1 Percent of Venture Capital

 Scholarships and grants based on one’s culture are nothing new. In the United States, such scholarships are offered among Native Americans, Hispanics, African Americans, and Jewish persons. Cultural groups establish these organizations as a means to support the disenfranchised minority groups who don’t get a fair shot at most opportunities in America.


Yet, Black people are disproportionately targeted and sued by anti-DEI groups when any of us attempt to help our own, in this case black women founders. What’s even more disheartening is that less than one percent of venture capital funds are invested with Black women-owned businesses. Less than 1 percent.

 

In an attempt to rectify that, Fearless Fund Co-Founders Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons, established the organization as a venture capital and business advisory service for Black women founders, who are chronically excluded when venture capital companies invest in businesses. Losing this lawsuit, which was filed by Americans for Equal Rights, a group led by conservative activist Edward Blum, deals a devastating blow to these businesses, and will reverberate through communities of Black business founders.

 

Still, it will not deter Black women in their quest for economic progress and economic justice in America.

 

It’s the height of hypocrisy that American society tells you as a Black person to bootstrap your way to a better financial future, yet 99% of venture capital (VC) investment is made with founders who are already economically and socially privileged. And when every attempt is made to block any avenue or channel for Black founders to invest in other Black founders is met with litigation, it only emboldens the oppressive overreach of conservative activists to continue to file lawsuits decrying Black people who invest in other Black people. It’s shameful and wrong.

 

It's also not shocking.

 

After all, the point all along is to keep Black Americans at the bottom of the economic ladder. Cutting off opportunities and pathways to advancement for Blacks is the goal for many conservatives. The goal of “keeping America great” often means codifying White male patriarchy in America, and what better way to do that than to kick the “browns” down a notch or two for trying to do better.

 

The ruin of this country will be those that have trying to keep poor and middle class people from establishing their own pathways to financial freedom. Greed and racism are a lethal combination, indeed.

 

Moving Forward With Both Hands Tied

Black women can’t and won’t wait for a higher court or political body to grant them agency to pursue economic freedom.


As Founder Ayana Parson’s noted, “If we must attain that ourselves with both hands tied behind out back, then that is what we will do. Because you’ve built a life that neither Ed Blum nor his anti-DEI agenda can disrupt, that’ the real flex. That’s The American Dream.”

 

Parson’s went on to say, “despite the ruling, I’m focused now more than ever on helping others achieve that dream. And though it may require new ways of thinking, doing, and being, failure is not an option. Because only when we are challenged and empowered to realize our full potential are we truly FREE.”

 

Collectively, Black women are fighting to gain a foothold, while being stomped down at every turn….but we’re still fighting. So is Fearless Fund. And I’ll be supporting that fight.

 

 

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