Friday, June 19, 2015

Racism and entrepreneurship

My Twitter stream in the last few days has been filled with outpourings of outrage about the killings of 9 people at the historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina.

What does all this have to do with the previous blog posts which have been about some technical aspects of convertible debt and crowdfunding?

The broader vision of many people involved in the activity of creating, launching and funding startups is that in some way we're all contributing to making the world a better place. We're also contributing to supporting opportunities of individuals to realize their dreams as founders and employees and customers, helping contribute to something of value in their lives.

All of this effort of humanity to better and better itself is horribly hindered by the threads of racism that still exist in our society.

Today the Wall Street Journal published the most amazing--amazingly horrible--article that says that these killings weren't about racism. It states that the institutionalized racism "identified" by Dr. Martin Luther King no longer exists.

The default that we are left with by the WSJ is that this young man was either (a) troubled or (b) evil. If you're secular you choose (a) and if you're religious you choose (b). But oh no, racism had nothing to do with it.

Of course he was troubled. But that doesn't mean that he didn't latch onto a culture where racism is prevalent. You have only to look at the statistics of both the number of African American's killed by their neighbors in their communities, the number of African Americans killed by police in comparison to the ratio of whites killed, and any one of many other statistics to see that the threads of racism are still wound tight within this society and within many of our institutions, warping all of our actions in bigger and smaller ways.

Does that mean things aren't better today than they used to be? Of course not. But to suggest we've washed our hands of racism, that we efficiently disposed of that ugly thing that Dr. King "identified" is mindbogglingly naive, blind, insensitive and well, racist.

Again, why does this matter in the context of entrepreneurship? Because to solve the world's problems or even simply provide great value to customers, you have to draw upon the best of people. You can't draw upon the best of people with deadly threads still wound around all of us. And so, in some way, all of our efforts suffer and many things are brought down. One of many things that is brought down, hindered, is the effort to better ourselves through invention, innovation and entrepreneurship.

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