A possible white supremacist founded my startup
…and other tales of being Black in America.
After earning my MBA despite a bout of COVID, intimate partner emotional neglect, the death of my beloved dog, and involuntary unemployment, I thought I might finally be able to celebrate. Unfortunately, it’s becoming a lot harder to put on a smile in the face of so many daily assaults — both micro and macro.
I don’t need to remind you of the horrific, despicable acts that have most recently been committed in the U.S., or of the horrific, despicable acts committed before then, or of the horrific, despicable acts likely committed after you’ve read this. [I’m not being sensational: Guns kill more than 110 Americans EVERY DAY, and more than 200 are shot and wounded.]
Instead, I’d like to share a bit of how my week’s been going, and why it’s so so hard to feel unbridled joy:
- My (white) partner and I were confronted by a white man while walking home for dinner. The man, after exclaiming “Really?!” and asking what we were doing there, told us it would be a good idea if we left the area. Again, we were in public, walking hand-in-hand, and were essentially threatened for no other reason than our race.
- My (white) friend started wearing African waist beads. She was respectful and conscious enough to ask how I felt about it given the origin of the beads. After sharing that I wasn’t comfortable with her wearing them, she got the “OK” from a Black seller and also told me other cultures wear them.
- I learned my old startup was co-founded by an apparent white supremacist. Of this country’s horrific, despicable gun violence problem, Blake Masters said “It’s gangs. It’s people in Chicago, St. Louis shooting each other. Very often, you know, Black people, frankly. And the Democrats don’t want to do anything about that.”
While Masters had already left Judicata by the time I was hired (and I received only positive, respectful treatment there), this latest news hits closer to home than I would’ve liked. I wanted to believe we were moving closer together and putting our differences aside in favor of a brighter, more prosperous future. I’d hoped something positive would come from our battle with COVID-19, perhaps a recognition and honoring of our interconnectedness. Parents, teachers, students, and communities ravaged by school shootings like Columbine and Sandy Hook hoped their pain and trauma would prevent others from experiencing the same.
Here we are. Choking on the bitter poisons of white supremacy, systemic racism, and lax access to firearms and ammunition.
Let me be clear: There is no single cause of gun violence in this country despite Blake’s uneducated assertions. And the more we align with people like him who draw fault lines between us based on uncontrollable and immutable factors like race (and Tucker Carlson talking points), the sooner we’ll reach the end of a civil society. I have to believe we’re better than this.
I hope you do, too.