Photo: Prince Williams / Contributor via Getty Images
  /  09.27.2023

Moderated by REVOLT CEO Detavio Samuels during REVOLT WORLD weekend, Fearless Fund founders Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons conducted an insightful conversation about their mission to bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders as well as the American Alliance for Equal Rights’ federal lawsuit against the organization.

The chat inevitably touched upon the stark financial realities of Black-owned businesses and funding. Samuels kicked it off by revealing a jarring fact: Less than 1 percent of advertising dollars are allocated to Black-owned media. “It is super important that you have Black folks funding our people because if we don’t, nobody else will,” he shared.

Simone explained, “We’ve deployed over $26 million in the past few years. We’ve invested in over 41 businesses. We’ve awarded over 300 grants. We’ve done over $4 million in grant funding, and the list continues because we’ve raised more capital than that. That’s just what we deployed. On Aug. 2, we were served with a federal lawsuit by Edward Blum and his organization, American Alliance for Equal Rights. They are trying to stop millions and billions of dollars from getting into the hands of women and people of color.”

Notably, the panel took place just a few days before U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash’s landmark decision to turn down the request for an injunction against the Fearless Fund on Tuesday (Sept. 26). The ruling came amid heightened scrutiny of diversity initiatives in both academia and the corporate world.

In August, the American Alliance for Equal Rights, a group led by conservative activist Blum, filed a lawsuit against the Fearless Fund. The former alleged that the fund’s grant program for Black women engaged in “explicit racial exclusion.” Thrash, however, disagreed. He sided with the organization, stating their grant program falls under charitable giving — a form of protected speech under the First Amendment.

“This guy, Ed Blum, that got affirmative action turned over. He also went after some law firms for their diversity programs. Of course, he sued us. What he’s trying to do is erase any race-conscious decision-making in America,” Parsons shared. “So, I’ll let you know what that means for us. Who in this room went to an HBCU? We went to FAMU. If he’s successful, there may be no HBCUs.”

Elsewhere in the panel, Parsons emphasized that Blum’s attempts don’t just stop at the Fearless Fund, but potentially all Black-owned businesses. She continued, “He’s trying to eliminate all of that. If you’ve got contracts, NIL deals, if you’re an athlete, he’s coming after that. If you’re in media or entertainment… So that’s why I often tell people, you might see the news and think, ‘Oh, that’s too bad for those Black women.’ He’s coming for us. He’s coming for everything Black, and we must fight back, and we must stand up.”

Simone chimed in, “He is coming for your employment, and it’s not just him. Mind you, that is a face. He’s funded by billions of dollars. He has deep-pocketed supporters, so this is clearly just a hired face for a conservative, aggressive agenda.”

Samuels concluded the conversation with a powerful call to action. He emphasized, “We need everybody in this room to take it personal. I will tell you that I take it personal because everybody that they just named – all of those and all of those advertisers – are also people who fund REVOLT. So if they get taken down, then there may not be a REVOLT WORLD, and we cannot let that happen.”


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