raceAhead: Invest Your Social Capital Like It’s Money, Says TechGirls CEO Saadia Muzaffar
(I’m back! Thanks for the newsletter rescue, Stacy Jones and Grace Donnelly.)
For each of the last ten years, Muzaffar has embraced an interesting exercise: To commit to a New Year resolution that will help change the way she understands and operates in the world. “I look at it is a chance to unlearn a single, deeply entrenched cultural value,” says Muzaffar.
So, in 2013, neck-deep into building her software startup and cash-strapped, she challenged herself to reimagine generosity. “Specifically, I wanted to figure out how to still give something back, when all conventional wisdom would suggest that I didn’t have anything left to give,” she says.
Like any good investor, she began by looking at her balance sheet. “I started by taking stock of assets that I already had access to — a social media platform, a solid reputation within an emerging tech community through my work organizing events like Startup Weekend,” Muzaffar tells Fortune. “I also had a big circle of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who were leaders, CEOs, and VCs.” The conclusion? “While I may have been cash-strapped startup founder at that moment, I was social capital rich.”
So, she decided to start highlighting the work of other women in tech, particularly young women of color like herself, who were rarely getting celebrated in male-dominated industries like video game development, robotics, space science, engineering, and urban infrastructure.
And that’s also when she had a big breakthrough: Social capital can be as valuable as the monetary variety, even when you’re a broke, sorry, bootstrapping start-upper.
Here’s her challenge and story.
Post your thoughts on today’s challenge on Twitter with #IncludeU30.
Looking for all the challenges? Start here.
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|It’s a divide that is hard to bridge, even with the facts. New research submitted from experts at Yale and Northwestern University shows that Americans remain largely unaware of the profound economic divide that exists between our perceptions of our own economic history. “Whereas high-income White respondents tended to overestimate racial economic equality in the past, Black respondents, on average, underestimated the degree of past racial economic equality,” report the researchers. While the findings have important implications for policy debates, even the researchers were slightly aghast at the extent to which Americans don’t know how other people are faring.“Given the magnitude and persistence of Black–White economic inequality in the United States, it is hard to believe that Americans are largely unaware of it.”|
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|Opinion: Diversity efforts at Harvard always fall short|
|Crystal Marie Fleming, an associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University is not here for Harvard. Her recent opinion piece takes aim at the university’s late-stage rejection of previously accepted doctoral candidate Michelle Jones, who had developed an extraordinary body of work while incarcerated.“Time and time again, Harvard — despite a superficial commitment to diversity — chooses to turn its back on the most vulnerable groups in our society,” she writes. “While initial efforts to welcome Michelle Jones and Chelsea Manning illustrate Harvard’s ideological diversity, the bottom line is that all too often, regressive forces win.”|
The Woke Leader
|Walking the halls built on the back of your ancestors|
|Mélisande Short-Colomb is a 63-year-old college freshman, an inspiring story of grit and lifelong learning. But Short-Colomb is no ordinary freshman: She enrolled at Georgetown University after she learned that she was related to one of the 272 people the University had enslaved and then sold. But lest you think this is about reparations, think again. “I made an application and was accepted as a qualified individual to attend Georgetown University,” she told NPR. “I had to apply like everybody else. I have student loans. I have a scholarship. I have a Pell Grant. I have work study.”|
|A free photo database will take you back to an earlier America|
|If you have a free hour or so, head over to the New York Public Library’s latest release of digitized images of ancient America, which include some 180,000 photos, postcards, lithographs, sheet music and so much more. It’s an extraordinary treasure, easily searchable, with very cool curatorial elements thrown in for good measure. For starters, try planning a trip using The Green Book, a mid-century guide for black travelers looking for hospitality during Jim Crow. “No permission required, no hoops to jump through: just go forth and reuse!” says a library spokesperson.|
|The New York Public Library|
|An abandoned town is a fading part of Great Migration history|
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