by Marc H. Morial
“Honestly, I actually have the same belief as the plaintiff. I would like a world where race-based things do not matter. But guess what – we live in America, and there are disparities that have to be solved for us to get to that point.” — Arian Simone, Fearless Fund Co-Founder
“We are not stepping back; we leaning into this cause to make sure that women of color get the support, the funding, to grow their businesses so they can achieve the American dream. Because that’s why we’re here. We’re here to close this wealth gap. We are here to achieve the American dream, and to continue to serve communities.” — Ayana Parsons, Fearless Fund Co-Founder
Few had ever heard the term “woke” when anti-racial justice activist Edward Blum began his crusade to preserve systemic racism after losing a congressional race to a Black opponent in 1992.
Even fewer would have declared, much less loudly and proudly, their opposition to it after hearing it defined as “the belief there are systemic injustices in American society and the need to address them.”
For most of this nation’s existence, the only opponent a congressional candidate like Edward Blum would have faced would be another white man. The entire applicant pool for admission to an elite college or university would be white men. A white, male entrepreneur seeking funding to get his business off the ground would be competing only against other white men.
The congressional seats, the college admissions, the business funding, all were theirs by right. If anyone else gained access to any of it, they must be a thief.
That’s why Blum is trying to shut down the Fearless Fund, which asked an appeals court this week to lift an injunction against a program that provides grants to businesses that are majority owned by Black women.
Black women entrepreneurs receive less than 1% of venture capital funding.
“And so we are here fighting them to say, can we at least have 1%? They’re saying, no, we want all the pie,” Fearless Fund’s attorney, Ben Crump, said a news conference following the hearing.
Blum’s organization, which sued Fearless Fund under Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 in August, claimed its members were excluded from the grant program because of their race, but has not identified the members. In September, a court granted its request for an injunction shutting down the grant program while the lawsuit proceeds.
The National Urban League has joined in filing an amicus brief in the case, along with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, National Action Network, NAACP, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, and LatinoJustice PRLDEF. As the brief explains, Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was explicitly designed to further the aims of the 13th Amendment by creating a remedy for discrimination against Black people that hampered their ability to enter into contracts and fully participate in the nation’s economy.
Programs like Fearless Fund, which strengthen Black Americans’ rights to equal participation in the marketplace, are indisputably authorized under federal law.
Throughout his three-decade campaign to dismantle racial equity initiatives, Blum has claimed to be seeking a “color-blind society.” More specifically, he seeks a society that is blind to historic and systemic racial inequity where he and his anonymous backers can maintain the fiction that their advantages are the result of “merit and hard work.”