Black women-founded startups are increasing—but they still raise far less than average

December 4, 2020, 11:23 PM UTC

There’s good and bad news for Black women founders, Google employees protest the dismissal of an ethical AI expert, and whose god is Charlamagne anyway?

But first, here’s your never-ending-the-war-on-drugs week in review, in Haiku.

Well, at least for one
brief shining moment we can
imagine a world

where Jamaal doesn’t
lose his future for the same
joint that doesn’t seem

to trip up all the
Chads who recreate with ease.
A world where taxes

are investments in
communities; ending a
pointless war on drugs.

Oh! There is a point?
And drug laws don’t even work?
At least we can dream.

Have a fulfilling weekend. Take some time to dream, if you can.

Ellen McGirt

On point

Black female founders: Want the good news or the bad news first? Let’s start with the good news: 93 Black female founders report they have secured $1 million in investor backing for their businesses in 2020, triple the number who found investment in 2018. Ninety Latina founders also hit the million mark this year. And yet, Black and Latinx women combined received just 0.64% of total venture capital investment between 2018 and 2019. This is the finding from the highly anticipated biennial survey called ProjectDiane, produced by digitalundivided, a nonprofit that develops programs that spark economic growth in Black and brown communities. Good and bad news abounds in the report, which is fully interactive and clickable. Here’s one more nugget: Some 82% of Black women entrepreneurs reported revenue loss because of the pandemic.

Google employees defend AI research scientist alleged to be fired after she complained of bias Until this week, Dr. Timnit Gebru, a scientist known for her research in bias in facial recognition technology, helped lead Google's Ethical Artificial Intelligence team. But according to an open letter signed by hundreds of Google employees, she was fired for defending research that highlighted potential problems with an AI tool used by Google, and a subsequent internal list posting that complained about the treatment of “marginalized voices” at the company. "Instead of being embraced by Google as an exceptionally talented and prolific contributor, Dr. Gebru has faced defensiveness, racism, gaslighting, research censorship, and now a retaliatory firing," the open letter said. Well worth your time.

Who died and made Charlamagne a God? It’s an important question and Rachelle Hampton raises some interesting observations about Charlamagne, the provocative host of the nationally syndicated morning radio show The Breakfast Club. The political theater on the show has been brewing for awhile: It was on this show that presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton produced a bottle of hot sauce from her purse. In the latest cycle, nearly every Democratic presidential hopeful showed up to court the Black vote. (They were also forced to listen to him wax on about their chances across political cable TV.)  So how did the once-described “Howard Stern of hip-hop," shock jock become the voice of Black political America? “[T]here’s a notable disconnect between the way white media responds to The Breakfast Club and the show’s contentious status within the Black community,” says Hampton.

It is not safe inside our homes As had been anticipated, intimate partner violence has continued to be a significant problem during the pandemic, and a review of studies shows that domestic violence calls to police and shelters spiked up from 6-21%, depending on the particular research, with the largest spike occurring within the first two months of quarantine. This piece highlights the common risk factors for violence that are amplified now, like economic hardship, stress, isolation, gun ownership, and substance disorders. But the pandemic has impacted the collection of already underreported domestic violence related data. The uptick in calls largely appears to be coming from households where the police have not visited in the past, perhaps due to witnesses who are also in quarantine. But for people in more rural areas, it’s likely that there is no way to escape and no one to report to. One solution? Encourage people to report in nontraditional spaces, like pharmacies.
The Conversation

We’re poised to lose a generation of students if we don’t focus up Data shows that if you can read by third grade, you’re on a better path to high school graduation. It’s not a subtle benchmark: Black and Hispanic children are eight times as likely not to graduate if they don’t hit third grade reading proficiency. So, this story about the Achievement Prep public charter elementary school in Washington, D.C. should raise some alarm bells. In March, 90 percent of the school’s first-graders hit their reading targets. But by the time they returned to school as second graders, every single child was off track. Some were back to kindergarten levels. What does the future look like for them?
Washington Post

On Background

A cosmologist turns her eyes to the earth Chanda Prescod-Weinstein has been delighting armchair stargazers and quantum mechanics for years on Twitter, as she breaks down her research on the origins and futures of the universe. But she is also a powerful force for inclusion in science, academia and beyond, and has become a sharp-eyed observer of where institutions go wrong. “I accused the physics community of practicing not real empiricism, but practicing white empiricism, where certain pieces of data get discarded when we're having conversations about social and civic issues—and with a level of comfort that people would never have if we were talking about an official science or official physics question,” she said. A must-read profile.

What we can learn from a 1,000-year-old ice cream shop Wars, plagues, political upheaval and natural disasters are now part of the story of Ichiwa, the family-owned toasted mochi shop that has been selling some version of the same rice flour cake since it opened in Kyoto in the year 1,000. They are one of many old businesses that have found a unique resilience by side-stepping the manic need to succeed at scale. “These companies’ operating principles are completely different,” Kenji Matsuoka, a professor emeritus of business at Ryukoku University in Kyoto tells the New York Times. “Their No. 1 priority is carrying on. Each generation is like a runner in a relay race. What’s important is passing the baton.”
New York Times

How did the media do with the 1918 flu pandemic? For one thing, it didn’t originate in Spain, despite its moniker. But embroiled in the Great War, the global press was entreated to downplay the dire effects of the flu, to boost wartime morale and project an image of strength and battle readiness. In this fascinating radio interview,  John Barry, author of The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, breaks down the rationale for the censorship—turns out we think of it as the Spanish flu only because their media reported on it—and how this blind spot in history may have affected our ability to grasp the impact the coronavirus.
WNYC On The Media

raceAhead is edited by Aric Jenkins.

Today's mood board

Fred Hampton, the activist and revolutionary, was assassinated by Chicago police and the FBI 51 years ago today. He's pictured here, around 22 years old, in a 1968 file photo.

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