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Why Does E=MC2 In This Moment?

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June 4, 2020

Albert Einstein’s theory of special relativity has particular relevance today.

When I think about the national outcry for justice in support of black lives, I see this formula as a guidepost for action. For example, if I re-write Einstein’s definition for E= MC2 (energy = mass x speed of light), as an application for the current movement, it would instead state:

The Energy of Change equals Collective Action times the Virality of a United Movement.

We believe that the privilege of innovation is to use it as a tool of systemic change.  This mechanism works only when it is accessible, inclusive, and equitably distributed. Similarly, entrepreneurship can either advance the economics of inequality or disrupt cyclical poverty through upward mobility.  

We have a fundamental choice in how we wield both.

If we believe that, at its core, innovation is a process designed to improve the human condition, then we can neither ignore, nor fail to recognize that racial and ethic justice— particularly for black lives, as is most evident in this moment– is central to what we do and who we are.  At least it is for Venture Café Miami.

In a world where only 1% of venture-backed founders are black, where black women led startups receive less than .06% of tech venture funding and where 93% of venture capital firms report having no Black investment partners, we can no longer deny that our innovation ecosystems are not immune from systemic racism. Nor can we say with honesty that they have evolved beyond the more covert manifestations in the form of implicit bias, stereotype threat or discrimination.

Why?

Because racial indifference is endemic to our culture and society.

When designed intentionally, I believe we can innovate our cultural context towards racial equity.

Internally, the VCM team (like most) are taking this moment to check our privilege, evaluate where we are unintentionally complicit in systems of oppression, and perhaps most importantly, assess where we can advance meaningful change. 

This means convening this community and its leaders towards shared goals and collaborative activities that directly address systemic racism in the startup ecosystem and to create accessible opportunities for black entrepreneurs, (including doubling down in support of those leading such efforts like Black Tech Week, Black Angels Miami, Digital Grass, and The Plug). 

To that end, we have initially identified four areas of opportunity:

Empathize: How might we create spaces of radical transparency that help us individually see from the other side — without expectation, judgment, retribution, shame or guilt?

Educate: How might we accelerate access to tools and technologies that create awareness of the lived experiences of and effective strategies for individual/collective action?

Empower: How might we uniquely and separately support those who are marginalized as well as those who desire to be action-oriented allies against systematic racism and oppression?

Experiment: How might we — without fear of failure — exercise intention in trying new approaches towards achieving racial and ethnic equity for entrepreneurs and justice within society as a whole?

We certainly don’t have all (or any) of the answers to these questions. However, I know we can’t act on assumption.  We can’t deliver what we don’t promise. We won’t understand if we don’t listen. And, we certainly can’t uncover real solutions without casting a wide enough net to seek input and participation from YOU– the community. 

So, please, let us know if you want to be engaged in this work.  Let us know how you can contribute.  Let us know what you need.  Click here or the button below to join this effort and we’ll be in touch withb actionable next steps.

Cheers,

Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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