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raceAhead: News Media Fails Black Families, Russell Simmons #NotMe, Another VC is Out

Your week in review, in haiku



Twitter: Poor you! We

care. Wait, what? #RACIST (Told you.)

World is trash. <Repeat>



Happy trails, Sassy!

And Happy Hannukah to

Roy Moore’s attorney.



Praise to the big Balls:

Way to put the “lit” back in




Omarosa storms

the gates of power, Atlas

shrugged. Bye Felicia.



Twelve-fourteen. Twenty

six souls. Eleven minutes.

Three guns. No end, grief.


Have a safe and hopeful weekend.

On Point

A new report shows a different type of media biasThis study from Color of Change analyzed news stories over a two year period ending December 31, 2016, to discover how local and national media portrayed black families. “Overall, the findings show that news and opinion media outlets routinely and inaccurately portray Black families as sources of social instability in society and portray white families as sources of social stability in society, irrespective of facts to the contrary.” Put another way, if the only black people you saw were the people on the news, you’d be likely to believe they’re poor, lazy, entitled and criminally inclined, make bad choices and routinely abandon their children. Here’s just one stat: Black families represent 59% of the poor in news and opinion media but comprise just 27% of the poor in the U.S., while white families represent 17% of the poor in news media but comprise 66% of the actual poor. Now take that into the voting booth.Color of Change

A former sharecropper helped get out the vote in Alabama
Fifty-nine-year-old Perman Hardy used to pick cotton after school, one of the thousands of sharecroppers who worked white-owned land in Lowndes County, Alabama. She completed her education and became a home health nurse, but for the last two decades, she’s had another calling: Making sure every person in her native county gets to vote. “We’re in an epidemic poverty county so it’s so important for us to vote today,” she told while driving her green Chevy Tahoe.  “I took some people today who’ve never cast a ballot before.” She drove for over ten hours. In case you forgot, here’s how Alabama legislators can thank her.

Accused of rape, Russell Simmons vows to fight back with a #NotMe declaration
At least eleven women have come forward with stories about Simmons, ranging from exposing himself and other sexual misconduct to rape. The NYPD has announced they are looking into the allegations. But yesterday, Simmons posted a note on Instagram with a #NotMe hashtag. “Today, I begin to properly defend myself,” he said. “I will prove without any doubt that I am innocent of all rape charges.” Twitter users were not amused by his choice of hashtag, despite Simmons’ clarification. “My intention is not to diminish the #MeToo movement in anyway, but instead hold my accusers accountable.”
Washington Post

San Francisco venture capitalist leaves his firm amid sexual harassment allegations
Venture capitalist Shervin Pishevar has left Sherpa Ventures, which he co-founded in 2013. Multiple women have accused him, but he is not going out without a fight. His statement on Twitter is one for the ages: “It is not a surprise that the untruthful attacks by those seeking to harm me and my family, include those willing to go so far as fabricating police reports, have continued unabated…My truculent opponents are out to settle scores that have nothing to do with Sherpa.” Pishevar is promising a legal battle to end the “smear campaign” against him. Until now, he was best known as an early investor in Uber.

The Woke Leader

What could people of color lose in the net neutrality decision?
The big blow will be to folks who care about civil rights, criminal justice, community development or rely on the internet to share their work, explains Bustle. If the worst outcomes of the repeal come to pass, it means the FCC can control what is and isn’t accessible on the internet. “They’ll be able to do this by slowing down or speeding up the connection to certain websites and blocking specific content and apps,” they explain. Paying more for your Black Thought fix would be terrible. But if you’re a community organizer, an individual artist shut out of traditional distribution or funding mechanisms, or a citizen journalist posting images of police misconduct, your content might never be seen. And with less disposable income to buy their way onto internet fast lanes, cohorts of color could find themselves in the back of the bus on the information superhighway.

After an ad gone wrong went viral, SheaMoisture rethinks its future
The now iconic hair care company has a beautiful origin story. Richelieu Dennis, his college roommate, and his mother escaped the Liberian civil war and came to the U.S. as refugees, and sold his grandmother’s African soaps on the streets of Harlem. Fast forward, it’s now a $700 million business that was recently acquired by Unilever. But when an ad that seemed to indicate the company was courting white consumers hit the interwebs, black customers and influencers pushed back. “Many of SheaMoisture’s key fans worried this shift would distract the company from their needs,” explains J.J. McCorvey in this must-read piece. The company initially apologized, but Dennis defended the ad and the need to “expand our market to defend our core.” It’s turned into the most recent case study in marketing, product development, and race. “[SheaMoisture] had unwittingly parked itself at the dangerous intersection where identity politics and brand expansion frequently collide, sparking internet outrage.” 
Fast Company

A legendary black book editor reflects on 50 years in the literary game
Marie Dutton Brown, the most important black book editor that most people have never heard of, nearly left the industry in 1972 after being told, “the black thing was over.” Instead of diversifying her portfolio with white writers, she asked herself a simple question: Were black people not reading or writing anymore? What followed was a decades-long career in book publishing and selling, magazine making and literary agenting, with an emphasis on emerging writers and marginalized voices. Join her for tea at her Sugar Hill brownstone for more dish.


Let us take this pause in this moment, when we find ourselves swimming in the crucible of one of the grandest business and moral battles of our generation, and find strength in each stroke of our proverbial digital pens, that we wrote with the indelible, eternal and permanent ink of righteousness. We write with the souls of thousands of lives saved, the lives of millions of jobs created liberating multitudes of drivers from the shackles of servitude to iniquitous taxi cartels of corrupt cabals that choked cities with their pollution of air and morals.
—Shervin Pishevar