'These Judges Bought What a Small Group of White Men' Sold

Appeals court rules Fearless Fund's grant program for Black women business owners is discriminatory
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 4, 2024 8:33 AM CDT
Court Blocks Grants for Black Women Business Owners
Arian Simone, center left, and Ayana Parsons, center right, co-founders and CEOs of the Fearless Fund, speak to journalists outside federal court in Miami on Jan. 31.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

A US federal court of appeals panel suspended a venture capital firm's grant program for Black women business owners, ruling that a conservative group is likely to prevail in its lawsuit claiming that the program is discriminatory. The ruling against the Atlanta-based Fearless Fund is another victory for conservative groups waging a sprawling legal battle against corporate diversity programs, per the AP. The case against the Fearless Fund was brought last year by the American American Alliance for Equal Rights, a group led by Edward Blum, the conservative activist behind the Supreme Court case that ended affirmative action in college admissions. In a 2-1 ruling, the panel of the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Miami found that Blum was likely to prevail in his lawsuit.

  • The suit: Blum claims the grant program violates the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race when enforcing contracts. The law was originally intended to protect formally enslaved people, but anti-affirmative action activists have been leveraging it to challenge programs intended to benefit minority-owned businesses.

  • The ruling: The court ordered the Fearless Fund to suspend its Strivers Grant Contest, which provides $20,000 to businesses that are majority owned by Black women. The decision reversed a federal judge's ruling last year.
  • Stats: Less than 1% of VC funding goes to businesses owned by Black and Hispanic women, per the nonprofit digitalundivided. Only 2% of investment professionals at VC firms were Black women in 2022, per a study conducted by consulting firm Deloitte and Venture Forward, the nonprofit arm of the NVCA. Just 1% of investment partners were Black women.
  • Reaction: Blum applauded the ruling, saying, "Programs that exclude certain individuals because of their race ... are unjust and polarizing." Says Fearless Fund CEO Arian Simone, "The message these judges sent today is that diversity in corporate America, education, or anywhere else should not exist. These judges bought what a small group of white men were selling."
More here. (More discrimination stories.)

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