Announcement: We’re very excited to have so many people attending our virtual event “More than just words: How to become an Antiracist ally-in-action” tonight at 9pm EST/6pm PST. As a reminder, please make sure you watch this Allyship 101 video so that our hosts don’t have to start from square one during their presentation.
Today’s intro comes from Adimika Arthur, a public health expert, hospital executive, and founder of Health Tech for Medicaid (HT4M). She fiercely advocates for vulnerable populations and loves to help people better understand health equity, healthcare, and health technology through storytelling, connection, and sisterhood. We’re also so excited that Adimika will be a regular Chairman Mom newsletter contributor going forward.
George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Rayshard Brooks, and Breonna Taylor added to the long list of Black lives lost needlessly. In the past few weeks, we have marched donning masks and hand-painted signs, educated our peers that we are standing against systems built on white supremacy and anti-Blackness, started to hold elected officials accountable, and raced to be the most “woke” place to work. This year’s Juneteenth holiday, which is today, may be the most celebrated in my lifetime. To be fair, some states honor Juneteenth as a state holiday. You can find a comprehensive list of companies that have committed to celebrating Juneteenth here. (Ironically, a Canadian Ontario-based marketing agency is collecting this data.)
The latest marketing moment is on the heels of many recent public relations statements recognizing that American history includes Black history and does not only need to be celebrated in February (the shortest month of the year). Meanwhile, there is now a mainstream spotlight on Juneteenth by giving people a vacation day. I am pleased many companies pledged their support for the Black community and the Black Lives Matter movement—but I want it to be authentic. This is a refreshing change but with a side-eye concern that it may be a set of placating gestures. Some companies have remained neutral, acknowledging the American ideals but not wanting to piss off either political side, especially considering Trump was originally going to have a rally on Juneteenth in Tulsa, which has since moved to Saturday. (Here’s more on why this was such an offensive choice on multiple levels.)
So, here is an abbreviated synopsis primer on Juneteenth: On June 19, 1865, two years after President Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in Confederate states, Texas paved the way for the start of the massively delayed freedom process. African Americans across the country have marked that day of liberation with a holiday known as Juneteenth. There was no email, Twitter, Facebook, or corporate statements back then, so the news about the end of slavery was slow, and Black folks got the details late (maybe the initial coining of CP time). Basically, it’s a day commemorating the end of slavery in this country.
This is one of the most important days for us not only to observe, but stop and ask ourselves, what can I do? Imagine if, as mothers, we educated our kids about Juneteenth and thought deliberately about ONE additional action we could take. What if instead of a “day off” we saw this as a “day of reflective action”?
For me, my authentic contribution is to take some of my time and focus on a pathway to better support Black health tech entrepreneurs. More than 80% of venture firms do not have a single Black investor and just 1% of venture-funded startup founders are Black. That is for ALL of technology. Black entrepreneurs have faced unique challenges in America, one of which is the lack of access to capital.
COVID-19 has exposed many of the flaws in the structure of our healthcare system and de-investment in public health across the country, from large to small—but there is a gaping racial wound at the center of the coronavirus pandemic. The latest data shows that African Americans have died from the disease at almost three and a half times the rate of white people. My hope is that helping Black entrepreneurs solve the problems of our community is a start, an action that my organization and my personal power can take.
We need change, not just a vacation day. We know that this country was founded on an ideal of democracy and equal rights, so let’s all use our time today to identify our most authentic actions in honor of Juneteenth.
Other threads on Chairman Mom to contribute to now:
- How do you explain privilege to someone who believes his privilege is “a victimless crime”?
- Help us crowd source a list of resources to educate adults and kids about race!
- Why do we keep splitting race and gender?
- How can we have an open dialogue about race?
- What are you doing on #Whiteoutwednesday this week?
- I need advice on how to make amends for a shameful thing I did in high school