By Stacy M. Brown
NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
Earlier this year, Edward Blum’s American Alliance for Equal Rights launched legal action against Fearless Fund. The lawsuit, brought before the U.S. District Court in Atlanta, alleges that the Fearless Fund discriminates against non-Black women. Experts said the suit could present a pivotal moment in the ongoing discourse on race in the workplace.
The Black Economic Alliance (BEA) Foundation, a leading organization mobilizing Black business leaders and advocates, announced the submission of an amicus brief advocating against a preliminary injunction against the Fearless Fund, whose Fearless Foundation focuses on aiding Black women entrepreneurs and other women of color in securing venture capital for their startups.
BEA CEO Samantha Tweedy emphasized the importance of entrepreneurship, highlighting its pivotal role in achieving the American dream and economic prosperity. She noted the systemic obstacles Black entrepreneurs, particularly Black women, faced in establishing and expanding their businesses. “Fearless Fund helps Black women overcome those barriers, which is good for Black work, wages, and wealth and good for our economy as a whole,” Tweedy wrote in a statement on Monday, Sept. 11. “Given BEA Foundation’s own recent polling that showed widespread support for businesses taking active steps to reflect the racial diversity of this country, it is clear that those trying to claw back pathways to economic progress for the Black community are out of step with the vast majority of Americans.”
The amicus brief by the BEA Foundation focuses on the challenges confronting Black women entrepreneurs. It highlights the persisting discriminatory systems, pointing out that Black women business owners encounter a rejection rate three times higher than their white counterparts. Moreover, Tweedy noted that Black women receive less than one percent of venture capital funding. The Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, one of the initiatives, aims to rectify these historical injustices and unleash a reservoir of untapped talent and innovation for the betterment and growth of the economy.
The legal action against Fearless Fund represents a broader trend as modern-day opponents of civil and women’s rights attempt to roll back advancements in racial diversity within the business sector, civil rights advocates stated. Recent polling shows widespread support for businesses promoting racial diversity in America. The support is robust across different races, ideologies, and generations. It is also rooted in the belief that diversity drives greater profitability and innovation.
Renowned civil rights advocate Ben Crump and others have vowed to combat Blum’s actions.
Founded in 2019 by three Black women, Fearless Fund has championed economic empowerment and opportunity for women of color. Their flagship initiative, the Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, has provided substantial financial support to Black women entrepreneurs, with awards reaching up to $20,000. However, Blum’s American Alliance for Equal Rights contends that this program violates a section of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits racial discrimination in contracts.
Blum asserts that certain members are being excluded based on race, and they demand redress for what they perceive as a violation of their rights. Alphonso David, a civil rights attorney and the President and CEO of The Global Black Economic Forum, emphasized the undeniable inequality in today’s playing field. “Today, the playing field is not level — that is beyond dispute,” said David. “Those targeting Fearless Fund want to propagate a system that privileges some and shuts out most. They want us to pretend that inequities do not exist. They want us to deny our history.”
Crump asserted that Blum severely underestimated the resilience of Fearless Fund. “Blum thought they would be the easiest ones to pick off. Oh, was he wrong,” said Crump. Support for Fearless Fund’s cause extends to organizations like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Women’s Law Center, and the law firm Gibson, Dunn, and Crutcher.
“This attack does not change our mission,” declared Arian Simone, CEO, and co-founder of the Fearless Fund. “We will remain steadfast on ensuring that the Fearless Fund will continue to empower women of color entrepreneurs.”