Black Women Were Among The Fastest-Growing Entrepreneurs—Then Covid Arrived

Sherika Wynter was on a roll. Since releasing an insulated luxury tote bag for professionals in 2018, and subsequently selling out three times, her Maryland-based research and development company Thomas & Wynter had been featured in British GQ and the International Business Times and on several local news segments.

She walked into February 2020 with more notches on her belt: a Google small-business award and a joint venture deal with a prominent Black law firm to create another product for professionals.

“We were growing exponentially,” says Wynter, a Black entrepreneur who, with cofounder Shallon Thomas, started the business in 2014.

As the coronavirus threat escalated in early March, their sales declined, nearly hitting zero by  April. That same month, Wynter laid off almost every member of her five-person team, save for one contract worker.

“Right now, we’re treading water and have applied for ten different grants with no success. It’s a little daunting, but we’re trying to carry the company on our backs,” Wynter says.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has decimated small businesses and early-stage ventures, especially those owned by women and people of color. Black women sit at this juncture, bearing a disproportionate share of the virus’ impact.

For years, Black women have created new businesses at a rapid clip, far outpacing other racial and ethnic groups. But strong financial headwinds from the pandemic and a lack of access to new funding sources threaten to wipe out decades of economic progress, leaving Black female business owners in a state of perpetual uncertainty, waiting for relief they fear will never come.

Sherika Wynter of Thomas and Wynter
Sherika Wynter of Thomas & Wynter Research and Development. SW

The face of female entrepreneurship overall is becoming a lot less white. Black women represent 42% of new women-owned businesses—three times their share of the female population—and 36% of all Black-owned employer businesses.

High levels of educational attainment, coupled with overcoming barriers to corporate advancement, have prompted Black women to pursue entrepreneurship, where they’ve become a potent economic force. Majority Black women-owned firms grew 67% from 2007 to 2012, compared to 27% for all women, and 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic during that time frame.

“There’s this assumption that entrepreneurship is a tech startup that’s venture-capital-funded because we see so much about Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. People discount informal entrepreneurship and part-time business creation, which creates a narrow view of entrepreneurship,” says Donna Kelley, who has led research on the rate of Black entrepreneurship and serves as a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College.

But the decade-long boom in Black business creation masks deep inequities in access to the financial resources needed to create businesses that reach maturation, which is widely recognized as past the five-year mark. There are fewer established Black female business owners relative to their high rate of entrepreneurship, Kelley says. “This is persistent over time, which tells us that fewer of them are sustaining their businesses into maturity.” 

In America’s business ecosystem, it’s not uncommon for companies to operate in the red for years before becoming profitable. Their lasting power is often made possible because of outside investors or their ability to secure loans from commercial banking institutions or credit unions. But Black entrepreneurs have historically been locked out of these funding opportunities. 

“A commonality for Black people, especially women, is that it takes longer to obtain capital, and so they have to put in a lot more sweat equity,” says Laquita Blockson, director of social innovation at Agnes Scott College and co-investigator on a study about the success of African American women-led entrepreneurial ventures.

The lack of access to capital also dictates, in part, to which industries Black women flock. “If you don’t have the personal resources to get your business up and running, you may pick businesses that are easy to get off the ground, but that are crowded with competition for similar products and services, and less opportunity for differentiation,” Kelley says.

Many of those businesses are in industries that have been severely affected by the pandemic, with about 40% of revenue generated by Black-owned businesses in the hardest-hit sectors, including leisure, hospitality, transportation and retail. 

“Hair salons, catering, restaurants or anything related to events . . . all of that shut down, and so the success of business owners in those industries depends on how much they have in reserves or were able to get from the federal government—both of which pose challenges for Black entrepreneurs,” says Jeffrey Robinson, founding assistant director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers Business School. 

When Sundrae Miller was forced to close the doors to her Adara Spa on March 26, she immediately sought out new funding sources. She received $2,300 under the Paycheck Protection Program, a $64,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and deferred her spa’s mortgage payment for one month. The Small Business Administration covered the next six months.

“That was my saving grace. If I hadn’t received that mortgage break, I’m afraid I’d be out of business,” says the Raleigh, North Carolina, resident.

Adara Spa reopened to the public on May 22, but business remains slow, and she fears a second state-mandated closure as winter approaches. In November, she’ll have to restart her mortgage payments.

Hunting for business grants has become like a full-time job for Miller, who often finds herself searching and applying for sources of capital until 2 a.m. She has applied for 21 grants to date, securing $23,000 from five of them. While the additional funding may seem sizable, Miller says she lost $20,000 each month her spa was closed and is losing $10,000 monthly since reopening at half-capacity. “I have a few grant applications out right now and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Okay, Lord, please let something come through,’” she says.

Little of the $670 billion PPP funding reached Black business owners, largely due to built-in structural limitations, such as stipulations around minimum headcounts and revenue requirements. When Wynter received a $1,000 PPP loan for her research and development company, she laughed. “They said, ‘Here’s a 30-year loan for $1,000,’ and I said, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ It was a slap in the face.”

Others had some success. The majority Black-owned architecture and engineering firm Sabir, Richardson & Weisberg (SRW) received a $150,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and a $280,000 PPP loan less than one month after applying for each.

“We usually have far under three months of runway. Without the PPP loan, we would have had to lay people off and not take a salary,” says Yvette Richardson, one of the company’s four partners, three of whom are Black. 

SRW, Sabir, Richardson & Weisberg
Yvette Richardson, on the far right, at SRW. Peek Photography, LLC

Access to capital is a major predictor of business success and Black entrepreneurs find it difficult to weather economic duress, reach scalability and pivot away from unsustainable business models without financial backing.

“A lot of Black businesses will not survive this pandemic without more help. That is the sobering truth,” says Asahi Pompey, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

Black business owners who apply for funding have a rejection rate three times higher than that of their white counterparts, according to a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses report that surveys participants in a program bearing the same name.

Some 43% of Black-owned businesses in Goldman Sachs’ entrepreneurial program say they are likely to lose their cash reserves by the end of 2020, versus 30% of the overall program’s population, and 31% say less than 25% of their pre-Covid revenue has returned, compared to 16% of the overall population. The report defines growth-oriented entrepreneurs as individuals with businesses that have revenues of around $150,000 and two to six employees.

“This data lays bare the structural inequities Black people face and that’s born out in their entrepreneurial endeavors,” Pompey says. Already, Covid-19 has shuttered 41% of Black-owned businesses, compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses.

Blockson warns that not only will Black female entrepreneurs find it difficult to survive this period of economic downturn, but also that those who temporarily close shop will find it far more challenging to reopen. 

“It will be a huge shock in the economic system, and it is raising alarms,” she says. “But I am also very hopeful and optimistic that this could be a great opportunity for those who are positioned for it and able to make a shift.”

Some Black businesses are getting creative and diversifying their offerings to stay afloat. SRW, for example, has sought out more healthcare projects and is dabbling in HVAC technology, anticipating the services clients will need as the demand for indoor ventilation systems grows. 

However, many small businesses aren’t easily adaptable without a massive infrastructure overhaul, which requires a significant financial investment. And most Black and women-led businesses only have a few weeks to a month of cash flow. 

“This is a critical moment in time that is going to set us on a trajectory that could certainly be problematic in terms of the state of Black businesses for years to come,” says Goldman Sachs’ Pompey.

When small businesses flourish, so do their communities, and Black business owners often intentionally locate themselves in Black and Brown spaces, acting as economic spigots in these neighborhoods. Their erasure comes with far-reaching consequences, including the loss of jobs, community development and new economic opportunities for residents of underserved areas.

Nearly 75% of Black business owners in Goldman Sachs’ survey say they recently mentored others in their communities, compared to 50% of white business owners.

“It’s not just that it’s a single business that shuttered. It’s that it’s a pillar of the community and someone who’s a leader or a mentor. The blast radius impact of the pandemic on Black communities is something that can’t be overstated,” Pompey says.

The pandemic’s paradoxical silver lining is that it has brought increased attention to revitalizing small businesses, which provide almost half of all jobs in the U.S. At the same time, a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has generated an influx of support for Black-owned businesses and corporate grants that cater to Black entrepreneurs. 

Wynter is capitalizing on this surge in public interest and has seen a spike in online sales since the national reckoning on racial injustice began in June. Sales jumped from 7 orders in May to 87 in June, she says. “People have really been a free marketing mechanism for small businesses, which has been a blessing.”

Even still, she and her cofounder are wary about the longevity of their company. They tapped into their savings in September, putting a combined $8,000 into the business, and are raising new funds through a friends and family round.

“As a business owner, you plan and you try to bob and weave through things,” she says. “But there is no way to bob and weave this pandemic. You have to take its hits and hope that you don’t get knocked out.”Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip

Ruth Umoh

Ruth Umoh

I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to rumoh@forbes.com

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Asian Americans Reflect on Race Amid COVID-19

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Diseases and outbreaks have long been used to rationalize xenophobia: HIV was blamed on Haitian Americans, the 1918 influenza pandemic on German Americans, the swine flu in 2009 on Mexican Americans. The racist belief that Asians carry disease goes back centuries. In the 1800s, out of fear that Chinese workers were taking jobs that could be held by white workers, white labor unions argued for an immigration ban by claiming that “Chinese” disease strains were more harmful than those carried by white people.

Today, as the U.S. struggles to combat a global pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 120,000 Americans and put millions out of work, President Donald Trump, who has referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and more recently the “kung flu,” has helped normalize anti-Asian xenophobia, stoking public hysteria and racist attacks. And now, as in the past, it’s not just Chinese Americans receiving the hatred. Racist aggressors don’t distinguish between different ethnic subgroups—anyone who is Asian or perceived to be Asian at all can be a victim. Even wearing a face mask, an act associated with Asians before it was recommended in the U.S., could be enough to provoke an attack.

Since mid-March, STOP AAPI HATE, an incident-reporting center founded by the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, has received more than 1,800 reports of pandemic-fueled harassment or violence in 45 states and Washington, D.C. “It’s not just the incidents themselves, but the inner turmoil they cause,” says Haruka Sakaguchi, a Brooklyn-based photographer who immigrated to the U.S. from Japan when she was 3 months old.

Since May, Sakaguchi has been photographing individuals in New York City who have faced this type of racist aggression. The resulting portraits, which were taken over FaceTime, have been lain atop the sites, also photographed by Sakaguchi, where the individuals were harassed or assaulted. “We are often highly, highly encouraged not to speak about these issues and try to look at the larger picture. Especially as immigrants and the children of immigrants, as long as we are able to build a livelihood of any kind, that’s considered a good existence,” says Sakaguchi, who hopes her images inspire people to at least acknowledge their experiences.

Amid the current Black Lives Matter protests, Asian Americans have been grappling with the -anti-Blackness in their own communities, how the racism they experience fits into the larger landscape and how they can be better allies for everyone.

“Cross-racial solidarity has long been woven into the fabric of resistance movements in the U.S.,” says Sakaguchi, referencing Frederick Douglass’ 1869 speech advocating for Chinese immigration and noting that the civil rights movement helped all people of color. “The current protests have further confirmed my role and responsibility here in the U.S.: not to be a ‘model minority’ aspiring to be white-adjacent on a social spectrum carefully engineered to serve the white and privileged, but to be an active member of a distinct community that emerged from the tireless resistance of people of color who came before us.”


Location: Harlem, Manhattan

Location: Harlem, Manhattan

Justin Tsui

“I didn’t think that if he shoved me into the tracks I’d have the physical energy to crawl back up,” says Tsui, a registered nurse pursuing a doctorate of nursing practice in psychiatric mental health at Columbia University. Tsui was transferring trains on his way home after picking up N95 masks when he was approached by a man on the platform.

The man asked, “You’re Chinese, right?” Tsui responded that he was Chinese American, and the man told Tsui he should go back to his country, citing the 2003 SARS outbreak as another example of “all these sicknesses” spread by “chinks.” The man kept coming closer and closer to Tsui, who was forced to step toward the edge of the platform.

“Leave him alone. Can’t you see he’s a nurse? That he’s wearing scrubs?” said a bystander, who Tsui says appeared to be Latino. After the bystander threatened to re­cord the incident and call the police, the aggressor said that he should “go back to [his] country too.”

When the train finally arrived, the aggressor sat right across from Tsui and glared at him the entire ride, mouthing, “I’m watching you.” Throughout the ride, Tsui debated whether he should get off the train to escape but feared the man would follow him without anyone else to bear witness to what might happen.

Tsui says the current anti­racism movements are important, but the U.S. has a long way to go to achieve true equality. “One thing’s for sure, it’s definitely not an overnight thing—I am skeptical that people can be suddenly woke after reading a few books off the recommended book lists,” he says.“Let’s be honest, before George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, there were many more. Black people have been calling out in pain and calling for help for a very long time.”

Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Location: Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Jilleen Liao

Liao was on a grocery run on April 19 when she stopped to adjust her mask. A tall older man in a Yankees cap crossed the road toward her and walked in her direction. “Next time, don’t bring your diseases back from your country,” he told her.

“He was so close I could see the lines and wrinkles on his face,” says Liao. Frightened, she waited until he was several yards away to correct him and say, “I’m American, sir. Have a nice day!” At the time, Liao was carrying four grocery bags. Now she makes multiple grocery trips a week out of fear that carrying too many bags could put her in a position where she couldn’t defend herself. She also rides her skateboard to create more distance between herself and other pedestrians.

“Scapegoating is both a timeless and universal tool, so we shouldn’t be surprised COVID-19 racism is coinciding with an election year,” she says. “Especially as marginalized people, we can’t be afraid to speak out about our experiences. I believe community building starts with relationship building—however messy or imperfect that process might look. The Black Lives Matter movement continues to show us a new world is possible.”

Location: Midtown, Manhattan

Location: Midtown, Manhattan

Abraham Choi

Choi was in a Penn Station bathroom on March 13 when a man stood behind him and started coughing and spitting on him. “I was shocked more than angry,” Choi says. “ Why would he do that?”

“You Chinese f-ck,” the man said. “All of you should die, and all of you have the Chinese virus.” Choi waited for the man to leave and then reported the situation to a police officer. “I was told that spitting wasn’t a crime, and that it wouldn’t be worth the paperwork I would have to go through to take any sort of action,” he says. Not knowing what else to do, Choi later anonymously recounted the story on Reddit, but he was hesitant to come forward in fear that his family might become the target of future attacks. Because of the shame he felt from the incident, he didn’t even share the story with his parents. But when attacks against Asian Americans kept occurring, Choi felt that he needed to speak up. “This whole thing made me into more of an introvert. I’m worried about my kid. I don’t want her to face this kind of racism,” he says. “It should just be love that we hold for one another.”

Choi says the events of recent weeks have made him more passionate about fighting racism than ever before. “I will not stand silent until everyone in the U.S. can be considered equal.”

Location: East Village, Manhattan

Location: East Village, Manhattan

Ida Chen

“Hey, Ms. Lee, I’d be into you if you didn’t carry the virus,” a man called after Chen on March 30. Chen told him off, but he turned his bike around and followed her for three blocks, shouting to her that “no one is into ‘ching chongs’ anyway” and that “this is why Asian men beat their wives.”

Afraid she would be in physical danger, Chen dialed 911 and put the phone on speaker, sharing her exact location and the details of the situation. The dispatcher said that they would send someone to look for the man, who disappeared, but she was never contacted again.

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Since then, Chen has been doing everything she can to avoid similar situations. “The other day, I walked 40 blocks to avoid taking the bus or the subway. I’d rather be out in the open where I can run away if I have to,” she says. “I wear big sunglasses, and my hair is ombré blond, so I wear a hat to cover the black hair so you can only see the blond.”

In recent weeks, Chen says older family members have told her not to involve herself in “Black-white battles.” But, she explains, “In my opinion, oppression of one minority group results in oppression of all minority groups eventually.”

Location: Astoria, Queens

Location: Astoria, Queens

Rej Joo

Joo was on his way to the post office when a Latino man wearing a cap labeled PUERTO RICO mumbled, “Chinese,” at him. Joo turned around, and the man continued: “I was gonna see if you were Chinese. I was gonna put on my mask if you were Chinese.”

“First of all, I’m not Chinese,” Joo responded. “Second, you should wear a mask anyway. Do you understand how ignorant you sound? You’re a man of color, and it’s gotta be hard for you during this time. Why do you want to cause other people stress too?”

The man said he was sorry, that it was his mistake. Joo attributes being able to get an apology to his work as a program manager at the Center for Anti-Violence Education.“We’ve been helping people come up with strategies to intervene when they witness or experience hate-based violence or harassment,” says Joo.

Joo says it wasn’t the first time he’d heard racist comments from other men of color. “When you’re lashing out at each other, you don’t see the big picture,” he explains. Still, he hasn’t thought much about the incident lately. “The increased level of attention given to anti-Blackness is a must and a critical part of working toward eradicating racism overall,” he says.

Location: Flatbush, Brooklyn

Location: Flatbush, Brooklyn

Haruka Sakaguchi

Before Sakaguchi started this photo project, she was waiting in line to enter a grocery store on March 21 when a man came up behind her, hovering and making her feel uncomfortable. She politely asked him for some space, to which he responded, “What’d you say to me, chink?” He then proceeded to cut in front of her.

“Before the Black Lives Matter protests, I had contextualized my incident as an act of aggression by a single individual—a ‘bad apple,’ so to speak,” she says. “But after witnessing the unfolding of the anti­racism movements and encountering heated debates between police abolitionists and those who cling to the ‘few bad apples’ theory, I came to realize that I too had internalized the ‘bad apple’ narrative. I gave my aggressor—an elderly white man—the benefit of the doubt.

“As an immigrant, I have been so thoroughly conditioned to think that white Americans are individuals that I wrote him into an imagined narrative in a protagonist role, even while he had so vehemently denied me of my own individuality by calling me a ‘chink.’ The protests have brought public attention to the idea that individuality is a luxury afforded to a privileged class, no matter how reckless their behavior or how consequential their actions.”

Location: Financial District, Manhattan

Location: Financial District, Manhattan

Jay Koo

“I wondered if I should’ve given my girlfriend an extra kiss before I left that night, if I should’ve spent more time with my brother,” says Koo, who was followed by two men after dropping off his brother at the emergency room at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital on March 24. The men called him racial slurs and yelled, “You got the virus. We have to kill you.” Wanting to appear strong and confident, he turned around and moved his book bag in front in case he needed to defend himself. “Unfortunately, Asians are often targeted for violent attacks because Asians are stereotyped as weak and non­confrontational,” he says. He escaped by fake-coughing and saying, “I just got back from the ER. You want this virus?”

Friends and family have asked him the races of the men who confronted him, but he says it doesn’t matter. “The men acted out of reflex in quoting President Donald Trump and stated that I have the ‘Chinese virus,’ which propped up the Chinese as the scapegoat.”

Koo turned to history to process the incident. “I was reminded that the recent attacks against Asian-American communities due to COVID and the murder of George Floyd are connected and rooted in racist histories,” he says. “We can never truly be free unless we are all free, or as Dr. King states, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.’”

Location: Brooklyn

Location: Brooklyn

Hannah Hwang

“I don’t want to speak to you. You’re Chinese. Please get me somebody else to work with,” a customer told Hwang, an essential employee at a bank. The social-distancing measures put in place, including a window by the entrance so customers don’t have to step fully inside, have at times magnified the racism she has faced. “I’ve felt like a zoo animal, having glass separating us while they’re pointing and yelling at me,” says Hwang, who asked that her exact location not be shown because of privacy concerns.

As the wave of Black Lives Matter protests began, she initially felt guilty about focusing on what she had personally endured. “I can handle racially charged slurs thrown at me. Yet that only led me to acknowledge that my experience is not in any way less valid,” she says. “Instead, I pivoted my mentality in acknowledging my privilege and recognizing the critical role Asian Americans play in standing in solidarity with the Black community.”

Location: Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn

Location: Prospect Lefferts Gardens, Brooklyn

Eugenie Grey

Grey was out walking her dog on March 17 when she was body-slammed by a stranger. The aggressor also kicked Grey’s dog, which howled in pain. In the moments before the attack, Grey was bent over, picking up her dog’s waste, and her hood fell over her head. She couldn’t see the stranger approaching and was already in a vulnerable position.

Grey was the only one on the block wearing a mask at the time, and her eyes were visible above it—“That’s probably what immediately identified me as Asian to them,” she says. Later, she shared the incident on Instagram, using her platform to spark conversation and bring awareness to the issue. “In my last post about the racism I’ve experienced during this virus hysteria, I expressed gratitude that at least I wasn’t assaulted. I guess I can’t claim that anymore,” wrote Grey, who urged her nearly 400,000 followers to “take the time to be extra empathetic and kind to strangers to hopefully make up for their treatment from the rest of the world.”

“As horrifying, triggering and deplorable as what happened to me was, it was the one and only time I actually felt like there could be bodily harm inflicted on me,” she says. “Some people live in fear of that all the time.”

Location: West Village, Manhattan

Location: West Village, Manhattan

Douglas Kim

In early April, Kim opened an Instagram direct message from a concerned customer. It was an image of his West Village restaurant, Jeju Noodle Bar, the first noodle restaurant in the U.S. to achieve Michelin-star status. The words “Stop eating dogs” were scrawled in Sharpie across the eatery’s windowpane. Disheartened, Kim went in the next day and scrubbed it off.

Even before then, Jeju Noodle Bar was closed not just for dine-in customers, but also for takeout and delivery because of concern for employee safety. “Our employees were scared,” says Kim. “They were worried about using public transportation, not because they were scared of getting the virus but because they were getting awful looks from strangers and hearing the other stories.”

Kim says there’s a common thread between what happened at his restaurant and the incidents of police brutality around the U.S. that have led to ongoing protests and calls for change.“When you look at the larger picture, it all comes from one thing: racism,” he says. “As human beings, we should all be united. We should be all together. It’s good that we are trying to get together and fix things. Asian people coming together with Black Lives Matter protests.”

By Anna Purna Kambhampaty | Photographs by Haruka Sakaguchi for TIME

Source: http://www.time.com

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Asian American leaders have been hearing about the racial incidents, if not experiencing themselves. Now they are putting political leaders on notice to do something about it.

Google Employees Demand End To Police Contracts In Letter To CEO

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The letter calls out Google’s cloud business, as well as work with police and military through Gradient Ventures, the company’s venture capital arm. Google employees have sent a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding that the search giant stop selling its technology to police forces, a call that comes as people around the world urge for police reform as part of efforts to end systemic racism. As of publication, more than 1,600 Google workers had signed the letter, which was viewed by CNET.

The letter calls out Google’s work with police and military through Gradient Ventures, a venture capital arm of the search giant that was founded in 2017 and focuses on artificial intelligence. The employees also criticize Google’s cloud division for touting its relationship with the Clarkstown Police Department in New York. Using Google’s G Suite productivity apps, the search giant said it’s helped the department save $20,000 to $30,000 on IT licensing costs. Google also said its software “accelerates evidence gathering and processing.”

The call Google to end police contracts comes as the US has been swept by protests following the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in police custody. The killing has spurred calls to defund police departments across the country. “We’re disappointed to know that Google is still selling to police forces, and advertises its connection with police forces as somehow progressive, and seeks more expansive sales rather than severing ties with police and joining the millions who want to defang and defund these institutions,” the letter reads. “Why help the institutions responsible for the knee on George Floyd’s neck to be more effective organizationally?”

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In a statement, Google said it has policies that guide how it deploys artificial intelligence, but said it won’t stop selling its technology to law enforcement. “We have longstanding terms of use for generally available computing platforms like Gmail, GSuite and Google Cloud Platform, and these products will remain available for Governments and local authorities, including police departments, to use,” a spokeswoman said.

This isn’t the first time Google employees have protested against the company’s work with military and law enforcement. Two years ago, workers at the search giant protested Google’s contract with the Pentagon for Project Maven, an initiative that uses artificial intelligence to improve analysis of drone footage. Thousands of workers signed a petition opposing the contract, and a handful of employees resigned in protest.

The letter about police contracts criticizes Google’s business dealings while it publicly supports the Black Lives Matter movement. Google last week announced a $175 million package to support Black business owners, startup founders and developers. Days after Floyd’s killing, Google displayed a black ribbon on its homepage, with the caption: “We stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it.” In a tweet announcing the homepage tweak, Pichai said the company stands with the Black community.

“We have a long way to go to address the full legacy of racism but to begin with — we should not be in the business of profiting from racist policing,” Monday’s letter to Pichai says. “We should not be in the business of criminalizing Black existence while we chant Black Lives Matter.”

 

Police are getting warrants to obtain tracking data from Google that locates every device near a crime scene. The system is called Sensorvault within the company, but a Google user might know it as Location Services. The New York Times’ Jennifer Valentino-DeVries reported on how the data can ensnare innocent people, and she joins CBSN with more.

 

 

Reebok And Athletes Cut Ties With CrossFit Over Founder Greg Glassman’s George Floyd Tweet

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Reebok has led the charge of brands and athletes cutting ties with fitness firm CrossFit, after founder and CEO Greg Glassman controversially tweeted “It’s Floyd-19” in response to a tweet about racism being a public health issue.

Reebok ended its exclusive ten-year deal as the main CrossFit sponsor and licensee of CrossFit apparel.

The sportswear giant said in a statement: “Our partnership with CrossFit HQ comes to an end later this year. Recently, we have been in discussions regarding a new agreement, however, in light of recent events, we have made the decision to end our partnership with CrossFit HQ.”

Professional CrossFit athlete Rich Froning, who has won the CrossFit Games four times, criticized Glassman’s comments to his 1.4 million Instagram followers, saying the last few days made it “impossible to stay loyal to leadership who make callous statements that alienate and divide in a time when unity is needed.”

CrossFit Games champion Tia-Clair Toomey said she was “incredibly saddened, disappointed and frustrated” at the company and Glassman, adding: “My future with Crossfit is unclear and depends on the direction of HQ.”

Other CrossFit Athletes including last year’s second place competitor, Noah Ohlsen, announced he would not compete in this year’s games.

CrossFit affiliate gym Rocket CrossFit, based in Seattle, is one of at least 200 linked gyms to disaffiliate with the company, and in a blog post published a profanity-laden letter from Glassman that attacked the gym’s co-owner, Alyssa Royse, of trying to brand CrossFit as “racist.”

CrossFit games supplier Rogue Fitness, which provides strength training equipment to the event, said it would remove the CrossFit logo from this year’s event and will “work with CrossFit Games leadership to determine the best path forward.”

News peg

Glassman sparked outrage on Sunday after referring to the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody as “It’s FLOYD-19.” His tweet was a direct reply to a post from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation that read: “Racism and discrimination are critical public health issues that demand an urgent response. #BlackLivesMatter.” Glassman later apologized on the CrossFit twitter page, saying: “I, CrossFit HQ, and the CrossFit community will not stand for racism. I made a mistake by the words I chose yesterday. My heart is deeply saddened by the pain it has caused. It was a mistake, not racist but a mistake.” As of Monday morning, Glassman’s original tweet on his personal account is still live.

Key background

Before Glassman’s tweet, CrossFit had stayed noticeably silent on Twitter and Instagram on the Black Lives Matter movement as a host of companies publicly took a stand on anti-racism following Floyd’s death. CrossFit has previously pledged public support for the LGBT community, as well as dedicating its “Hero” workouts to fallen soldiers.

Further reading

Boxed Out? CrossFit Founder Greg Glassman’s George Floyd Tweet Sparks Outrage (Forbes)

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I am a breaking news reporter for Forbes in London, covering Europe and the U.S. Previously I was a news reporter for HuffPost UK, the Press Association and a night reporter at the Guardian. I studied Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics, where I was a writer and editor for one of the university’s global affairs magazines, the London Globalist. That led me to Goldsmiths, University of London, where I completed my M.A. in Journalism. Got a story? Get in touch at isabel.togoh@forbes.com, or follow me on Twitter @bissieness. I look forward to hearing from you.

Source: https://www.forbes.com

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Greg Glassman Brands including Reebok cut ties over CrossFit CEO’s George Floyd tweet
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