Uncategorized

The Black Woman’s Dilemma: 7 points about choosing between my race and my sex

If you are a black woman, or any woman of color, reading this article, you already know what I am going to say. It’s that age old choice that I, as a black woman, have to make on so many occasions. According to some, I have to decide between my RACE and my SEX. And I am often not given the option to choose both. That’s because there is this idea that I CAN or have no desire to choose both. This dilemma applies to both law and politics, two industries that I am entrenched in at the moment. However, the discussion around diversity is ever present when deciding policy and laws. So, therein lies the challenge because the choice is ever present. But, as I am never one to back down from a challenge, I have decided to address some concerns that have plagued my legal and political (and now consulting) career for a while.

 Case Study: “Why can’t you just focus on black people?”

Nothing brings home the point I am trying to make than a real life case study. So for example, I am planning a conference in July in Atlanta focused on capital raising solutions and growth strategies for minorities AND women. I can’t tell you the amount of strange looks and inquiries I have gotten because I have decided to not focus only on black people. [As a sidenote, I am planning a Blacks in Tech Policy conference in November at the Georgia State Capitol so their fears are unwarranted, whatever they may be.] Why exactly do people think that humans can extricate themselves from one identity? Can I not be BOTH black and a woman? What is the problem with identifying with both? Let me be blunt: There are experiences no black man will EVER experience as a woman. Just as there are experiences no white woman will EVER experience as a black person. Those experiences are not and cannot be exclusive of one another in the skin and sex that I have been given. And even if I could separate the experiences, I don’t want to–they make me who I am.

7 Points about My Black Woman Experience 

1. It’s MY experience.

That’s right. I am unapologetic about experiencing being a black woman—the good, the bad and the ugly. No one has to second my experience. And no one has to approve of my experience. Therefore, no one has to validate my experience for me to feel what I feel. It’s my experience and mine alone to own and embrace. I do it fully and without regrets. And as long as there are ears to hear, I will share my experience for all to listen and learn.

2. In business, we [women] start with less.

Women start with less than HALF of the start up capital of men, on average. Additionally, women receive only about 2% of outside capital vs. men who receive about 18% (Source: National Women’s Business Council, 2012 Report, https://www.nwbc.gov/research/nwbc-2012-annual-report, last assessed 5/17/17) Not only is this a fact based on statistics, I see the differences all the time in my business dealings. There is a bond that comes from knowing most of us [women] are starting at a disadvantage from men. And with that bond comes the instinct to support other women, no matter the race, in this tough business world.

3. I am invested in the Civil Rights Movement.

Now obviously I wasn’t born during the Civil Rights Movement (CRA). My parents were barely born. But it doesn’t mean I am any less vested in the Civil Rights Movement. The challenges of being a woman in the civil rights movement are well documented from other black women. Examples include most of the focus of the movement being on the oppression of black men and men receiving most of the credit. (Source: The Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/collections/civil-rights-history-project/articles-and-essays/women-in-the-civil-rights-movement/, last assessed 5/17/17). I’m proud of the movement but let’s be serious—being a black woman in the CRA was a different experience and had a different outcome than that of a black man.

4. I am invested in the Women’s Rights Movement. 

Again, I am not saying that I participated in the Women’s Rights Movement as I was not born yet. However, I am very much vested in what happened during this period of time, including the experiences of black women. It is undisputed that black women were heavily involved in the women’s suffrage movement but often faced racial discrimination. (Source: Rights for Women: The Suffrage Movement and Its Leaders, https://www.nwhm.org/online-exhibits/rightsforwomen/AfricanAmericanwomen.html, last assessed 5/17/17) But no matter how frustrated I could have been with this movement, I had an obligation to be involved. The outcome affected who I am as a black woman and so active participation was imperative to my well being.

5. We [black women] can help you. 

Listen up black men and non-black women. This can and should be a partnership. Black men should be able to gain knowledge from black women to be better advocate for the whole black race. Conversely, white women should be able to use the wisdom of black women to relate to other non-white women. My proposition is that smart, forward thinking individuals should see us as an asset to gain insight and not as a liability. The black woman as much to say and contribute. Think about it.

6. You are not qualified to write my story.

This seems pretty self explanatory. But, to be clear, you cannot tell ME what it is to be a black woman. Therefore, you are unqualified to tell me why I have to choose sides and which side to choose. Period. End of story. No discussion to be had. Nope—this is not even remotely up for a discussion. I will not tell you what it means to be a man or a white woman and you will not try to educate me on the plight of black womanhood. Deal?

7. Being a black woman is not exclusive.

This is the most important point of this whole article. I cannot separate being black from being a woman. It’s who I am. Therefore God has given me the unique challenge of being both. I can both advocate for black issues AND women issues. I can empathize with being black AND a woman. And I can support my black AND women community. Imagine that! A black woman can actually do multiple things at the same time! In conclusion, being identified with one does not, will not and cannot exclude identifying with the other.

Call To Action

Let me be. It’s hard enough to do the work that I do without having separate factions nipping at my ankles telling me to “choose. choose. choose.” In fact, I implore you all to not only go passive—but be active. Find a way to reach out to women of color and intentionally support them and their efforts. We are all in “this” together—so uplifting one another in our unique positions is key to all of us rising. I hope you will answer the call.

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 About Me

My name is Dar’shun Kendrick and I am a business attorney and owner of Kendrick Law Practice, helping businesses raise capital the LEGAL way. I have 2 B.A.s from Oglethorpe University, a law degree from the University of Georgia and an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University. Additionally, I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives (East DeKalb/South Gwinnett counties) since 2011 where I serve as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business and Job Creation Committee as well as Co-Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Economic Development committee. I am also a board member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s corporate development board, and featured in the Huffington Post as 1 of 25 People Poised to Scale Atlanta’s Growing Inclusive Technology Start Up Ecosystem for Black Americans and Beyond.

I am also the founder and Board Chair of a non-profit organization to EDUCATE and EMPOWER minorities called Minority Access to Capital, Inc. Furthermore, I am an Economic Justice Advocate and Owner of Kendrick Advisory and Advocacy Group L.L.C. providing consulting and advocacy services on policy and initiatives across the nation for those that want to reach minorities.

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Economic Development, Policy, Uncategorized

The State of Minorities’ Access to Capital (2017): Call to Action!

You have heard how severally underrepresented minorities are in the pool of those that have received capital. But you have probably rarely ever seen the statistics behind that statement or the details of what that means.

Setting the Stage

Below is the text of a presentation I gave January of this year. This speech was given at Minority Access to Capital, Inc. (my non-profit’s) first meeting which was titled “The State of Minorities’ Access to Capital”. Some of the information below MAY shock you; unfortunately, others will not. But I believe that knowledge is power. So, it’s necessary to have a starting part of knowledge in order to be able to come up with deliverable metrics by which to measure minority progress in the area of capital access.

Minorities: How do we measure up?

The Minority Business Development Agency states in a 2012 survey that there are almost 8 million minority firms in the United States. They have combined gross receipts of $1.4 trillion, a 38% increase since 2007. However, only 11% of minority-owned firms have paid employees compared to 22% for non-minority firms. Other takeaways include:

  • According to an Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation report, businesses started by people of color perform differently than white-owned businesses as white-owned businesses had double the number of sales. One of the reasons includes industry difference, with black-owned businesses being overrepresented in less successful industries. But entrepreneurs of color also started their business with less capital than their white counterparts. Additionally, this Kauffman brief revealed that education was an impediment as well. Asian and white Americans were more likely to have college degrees—50% and 29% respectively–and therefore more likely to have sales, than their black and Latino counterparts (18% and 13% respectively).
  • More than 2/3 of entrepreneurs use personal savings as a source of funding and more than 1 in 5 rely on family for funding.
  • Research also suggests that approximately 15% of the difference in startup rates among black and white Americans can be explained by differences in assets.
  • According to the Annual Survey of Entrepreneurs, about 82% of firms that started with at least $100,000 in capital were white-owned, 13% Asian-owned, 4% Hispanic-owned, and 1% are black-owned.

Women: How do we measure up?

As of 2016, it is estimated there are over 11.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generating over $1.6 trillion in revenues. (The sources for the information below: From American Express OPEN: The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report (2016) and National Women’s Business Council Report (2012))

  • The growth in the number of women-owned firms surged in the aftermath of the recession. (Growth was 9.2% for non women-owned firms and 45.2% for women-owned firms)
  • Among women of color, Latinas lead the way in the growth of number of firms, Asian-American women lead in employment and revenue growth. African American women-owned firms constitute a 61% majority of African American owned firms.
  • In a 2012 report, the National Women’s Business Council found that on average, men start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women ($135,000 vs. $75,000). This disparity is slightly larger among firms with high-growth potential ($320,000 vs. $150,000), and much larger in the Top 25 firms ($1.3 million vs. $210,000).
  •  The same report found that high-growth potential firms started with about twice as much capital as other firms, and were more likely to rely on outside financing, both debt and equity. However, controlling for other variables including growth potential, men still used significantly higher levels of capital than women from 2005 to 2007.
  •  The biggest difference in amount of capital between men and women was with regard to outside equity, even controlling for other factors. Women received only 2% of total funding from outside equity, compared to 18% for men. This gap also occurred in both the high-growth potential firms and the Top 25 firms. As growth potential increases, so does the dollar amount of external equity used—this is true for both men and women, although the rates of increase differ.
  • Regarding demand for credit (i.e. outside debt), women were more likely to be discouraged from applying for loans due to fear of denial, particularly during the financial crisis of 2008–2010. This fear was somewhat justified: in 2008, women-owned firms were much more likely to have their loan applications denied than their men-owned counterparts.

What am I doing about this?

For anyone that knows me, you know I am a DOER instead of a complainer. So this is why Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC was started—to provide a unique experience for minorities to engage with one another and others in accessing capital. You can join the cause too! You can sign up for our enewsletter, follow us on social media, volunteer or DONATE to the cause. It takes all of us doing our part to make this happen.

Here are some IMMEDIATE opportunities to get involved below:

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My name is Dar’shun Kendrick and I am a business attorney and owner of Kendrick Law Practice, helping businesses raise capital the LEGAL way. I have 2 B.A.s from Oglethorpe University, a law degree from the University of Georgia and an M.B.A. from Kennesaw State University. Additionally, I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives (East DeKalb/South Gwinnett counties) since 2011 and I serve on the committees of Juvenile Justice, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary Non-Civil and as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business and Job Creation Committee. I am also a board member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s corporate development board, a writer for Black Enterprise magazine and featured in the Huffington Post as one of 25 people in Atlanta to improve diversity in the ecosystem for African Americans in technology.

I am also the founder and Board Chair of a non-profit organization to EDUCATE and EMPOWER minorities called Minority Access to Capital, Inc. Furthermore, I am an Economic Justice Advocate and Owner of Kendrick Advisory and Advocacy Group L.L.C. providing consulting and advocacy services on policy and initiatives across the nation for those that want to reach minorities. More information can be found online at www.DarshunKendrick.com about my platform.

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