Fearless Fund co-founders Arian Simone and Ayana Parsons are not backing down in their fight to bridge the gap in venture capital made available to Black women and people of color.
On Saturday (Sept. 30), the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta blocked the fund from moving forward with its Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, which awards $20,000 investments to winners. The application was set to close on Saturday but must now remain open.
The organization, whose mission is to stop economic inequality and support economic freedom, was targeted by the conservative group American Alliance for Equal Rights in an August lawsuit alleging that their fund is racially discriminatory because it caters to Black women — entrepreneurs who are vastly overlooked by investors and are more often denied advertising dollars compared to their white counterparts.
Simone and Parsons secured an early victory in their legal battle against the alliance, which was founded by anti-affirmative action advocate Edward Blum, on Tuesday (Sept. 26) when U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash rejected Blum’s attempt at an injunction that would prevent the firm from exclusively awarding funds to Black women.
His ruling was overturned by a three-judge panel during an emergency motion. Two of the three circuit judges, Robert Luck and Andrew Brasher, were appointed by former President Donald Trump, reports Reuters. They both sided with Blum, citing that the fund was “substantially likely” to violate a federal discrimination law.
U.S. Circuit Judge Charles R. Wilson, appointed by President Bill Clinton, said, “It is a perversion of Congressional intent to use [the law] against a remedial program whose purpose is to ‘bridge the gap in venture capital funding for women of color founders’ — a gap that is the result of centuries of intentional racial discrimination.”
“We respectfully disagree with this court’s decision, appreciate the important points raised by the dissent, and look forward to further appellate review. We remain committed to defending the meaningful work of our clients,” said attorney Alphonso David, who is among the lawyers representing the Fearless Fund.
More than 41 businesses have benefited from the organization, which has provided more than $4 million in grants. Both Simone and Parsons were met with support at REVOLT WORLD last weekend, where they stressed that Blum, who led the charge in the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn affirmative action, is not only targeting them but other diversity programs.
“He’s trying to eliminate all of that… 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,” said Parsons. Simone emphasized that Blum and similar groups are backed by “deep-pocketed” supporters who will continue to push conservative efforts forward.
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