The real contagion
Commentary by Chitown Kev
I’ve heard so many versions of a certain saying that I had to look it up.
When white America sneezes, Black America catches pneumonia.
The maxim is applicable whether we’re talking about about hurricane preparedness, the Great Recession, COVID-19, or, as Kat Stafford and Clare Savage of the Associated Press report, bank collapses.
While Wall Street struggles to contain the banking crisis after the swift demise of SVB — the nation’s 16th largest bank and the biggest to fail since the 2008 financial meltdown — industry experts predict it could become even harder for people of color to secure funding or a financial home supporting their startups.
SVB had opened its doors to such entrepreneurs, offering opportunities to form crucial relationships in the technology and financial communities that had been out of reach within larger financial institutions. But smaller players have fewer means of surviving a collapse, reflecting the perilous journey minority entrepreneurs face while attempting to navigate industries historically rife with racism.
As the article notes (and contrary to the opinion of some folks), the banking industry has never been too kind to Black folks wanting to obtain any measure of financial services needed to survive and strive and, possibly, to fulfil our own goals and dreams.
People like founder and CEO Tiffany Dufu, who was interviewed by Sacha Pfeiffer for National Public Radio.
Speaking on NPR's Morning Edition, Dufu told Sacha Pfeiffer that she and many other tech founders don't fit the Silicon Valley stereotypes.
"I think that sometimes when people think of a tech founder or the tech sector, they think of Mark Zuckerberg. I am African-American and I have two school age kids. I'm in my mid-40s. Founders are people who have a problem they've identified that they're trying to solve for a consumer. In my case, one in four women have considered leaving their jobs in the past year, and we partner with their employers to try to ensure that they have access to the resources that they need."
Dufu argues that she represents an especially vulnerable portion of the tech investment community.
"Less than 1% [of tech sector investment capital] goes to black female founders. So there are a lot of underrepresented founders and leaders in this community who were grossly impacted by this. There's not a lot of liquidity. We don't have large assets to draw on. And so this really created a crisis for us."
J.J. McCorvey of NBC News reports that while overall venture capital funding plummeted last year, the effects on Black entrepreneurs and tech founders (which was never that great to begin with) was even more dire.
Venture capital funding dropped by 36% last year, according to data from Crunchbase, after rising inflation and interest rates helped kill off a preceding bonanza. But funding for Black founders plummeted by 45%, the largest annual decrease for the group in more than a decade, the data shows, and Black women receive an average of just 1% of venture capital dollars every year.
“When our economy catches a cold, the Black community catches the flu,” said Kelly Burton, the CEO of the Black Innovation Alliance, a national coalition of startup incubators and accelerators.
“There will likely be retrenchment in the space with investors becoming more skittish. That can’t be good for Black founders, especially [considering] there’s all this conservative blowback,” she said, referring to the flurry of baseless accusations that SVB fell apart because it focused too heavily on diversity and “woke” issues.
I don’t claim to know the ins and outs of a lot of this economic/entrepreneurial stuff; I’m an artsy-fartsy type. But I do notice...patterns.
Black folks are meant to be seen and not heard, at least by white America’s standards.
Black folks do create and build stuff. For the most part, we attempt to help everyone and especially ourselves (since in many situations we only have ourselves).
With some exceptions, though, Black folks do not reap the rewards of the work that we do. Obstacles are erected for the few of us that do see some rewards so that we do not earn what we are worth.
It’s the same ol’ song. Just a different day.
News round up by dopper0189, Black Kos Managing Editor
A newly surfaced 2017 internal Veterans Affairs report shows Black veterans were more often denied benefits for post-traumatic stress disorder than their white counterparts.
The analysis crunched claims data from fiscal year 2011 through 2016 and showed that Black veterans seeking disability benefits for PTSD were denied 57% of the time, compared to 43% for white veterans. The report emerged as part of an open records lawsuit filed by an advocacy group for Black veterans.
Terrence Hayes, a spokesperson for the Department of Veterans Affairs, said the agency did not immediately have current data on a racial breakdown of PTSD disability benefits awards and said the agency “is gathering the data and will share it once fully compiled.”
Hayes wrote in an email that the agency could not comment on any ongoing litigation but that VA Secretary Denis McDonough is committed to addressing racial disparities as it relates to VA benefits.
Hayes noted that earlier this month McDonough acknowledged disparities and announced the creation of an Equity Team, telling reporters: “That team’s first order of business will be to look into disparities in grant rates to Black veterans — as well as all minority and historically underserved veterans — and eliminate them.”
Richard Brookshire, a Black veteran who served in Afghanistan as a combat medic, co-founded the Black Veterans Project in Baltimore, which filed the Freedom of Information request lawsuit. He says he’s frustrated that the government aggressively recruits Black soldiers from Black neighborhoods but that the VA is unable to share data on disparities. “If they don’t know, it’s because they don’t want to know,” he said in an interview with NBC Washington.
A new FBI report on hate crimes this week had disturbing news: The number of such crimes reported in the United States rose between 2020 and 2021, and has reached the highest level since the government began tracking the crimes in the early 1990s.
Tracking hate crimes is notoriously difficult, and the FBI’s data remains incomplete — a result of underreporting by local and state agencies. Criminologists disagree on whether the data is enough to draw conclusions about the prevalence of hate crimes in the US. But several said that the Bureau’s report, alongside other data sources, is sufficient to show that hate crimes overall have, in fact, been on the rise in recent years.
“Is the FBI catching the exact volume? Of course not,” Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino who tracks hate-crime data, told Vox. “But they’re getting information from more reliable high-reporting agencies and you can get a sense that the trends are alarming.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been calling witnesses to a grand jury investigating hush money paid on Trump’s behalf during his 2016 campaign. The Grio: DA weighing Trump charges won’t be intimidated by rhetoric
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is standing firm against Donald Trump’s increasingly hostile rhetoric, telling his staff that the office won’t be intimidated or deterred as it nears a decision on charging the former president.
Bragg sent an internal memo late Saturday hours after Trump unleashed a three-part, all-caps social media post in which he said he could be arrested in the coming days, criticized the district attorney and encouraged his supporters to protest and “TAKE OUR NATION BACK!”
Bragg, whose office has been calling witnesses to a grand jury investigating hush money paid on Trump’s behalf during his 2016 campaign, did not mention the Republican by name, but made it clear that’s who he was writing about. The memo came as law enforcement officials in New York City are making security preparations for the possibility Trump is charged and appears in court in Manhattan.
“We do not tolerate attempts to intimidate our office or threaten the rule of law in New York,” Bragg wrote, referring to “press attention and public comments” regarding an ongoing investigation by his office.
As Bragg sought to assuage concerns about potential threats, posts about protests began popping up online, including a rally on Monday against Bragg organized by the New York Young Republican Club.
Red-eyed damsels, pole dancers, two-bit hookers, hot-legs foxy gotcha, woolly buggers, drunk and disorderly, Mrs Simpson and orange boobies are not what you might think. They are just a few of the colourful, dexterously tied flies that fishing folk cast from their rods to lure trout and salmon in the rivers of Scotland, South Carolina, Russia’s Kola peninsula and beyond. What these wacky names have in common is that they are among several thousand fluffy but lethal creations that have made Kenya a global hub of fly-tying.
Johnny Onslow, a 67-year-old retired head teacher whose fly-tying firm near the Kenyan town of Rongai is called Gone Fishing, reckons that at least 60% of the world’s supply of artificial flies tied to little fish-hooks is made in Kenya. No one really knows, because there are thousands of freelance tyers who do not register with Kenya’s tax authorities.
This unusual cottage industry was started in the 1930s by a young Briton in what was then the colony of Kenya after he had broken his back in England playing rugby. Sent to recuperate in the clement African climate, he found that tying flies was a good way for an immobilised fishing fan to keep up his spirits. As his health improved, the hobby gradually became a business.
Nowadays there are scores of workshops dotted across the country, where entrepreneurial Kenyans of all ethnicities, from freelance tyers in sheds to employers of more than a hundred at long tables, meet orders from as far afield as Chile, Estonia and New Zealand. By far the biggest markets, however, are in north America and western Europe.
In 2018, a hospital in Kenya admitted Ashley Muteti, who was 25 at the time, for a month. Muteti, who was over six months pregnant with what was to be her first child, was diagnosed with the hypertension disorder pre-eclampsia. During her hospital stay, Muteti met 10 other expectant or new mothers, seven of whom also had similar hypertension during pregnancy — though, like Muteti, they had no idea what the life-threatening condition was prior to being diagnosed with it.
While these women did receive care, the lack of awareness and health care delay poses a serious problem. Pre-eclampsia causes high blood pressure and can result in internal bleeding, seizures, stroke, premature birth, and more. The condition is one of the leading causes of maternal deaths globally, resulting in the death of 500,000 infants and 76,000 mothers every year.
Muteti survived her pregnancy, but her daughter, Zuri, who was born prematurely, died 49 days after her birth. In her daughter’s memory, Muteti started the Nairobi-based organization Zuri Nzilani Foundation, which seeks to strengthen maternal health care in Kenya by financially and emotionally supporting pregnant people, increasing training opportunities for health care professionals, and running digital education campaigns on the importance of prenatal care.
Muteti’s vision is that just as each country has a task force that addresses issues of conflict or natural disaster, every region will establish a team that focuses on maternal health. “How can we work together to ensure that no mother will die as a result of bringing life into this world?” she asks.
While global maternal death rates have dropped 30 percent in the last two decades, the world is still far from reaching Muteti’s goal.
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