Criminal Justice, diversity

Not guilty verdict in Castile case? Another reason I am a recovering attorney on a mission.

Collage of black facesI am tired. I work 16 hour days 7 days a week and sometimes longer. But it’s not the work days that tire me—-it’s the American justice system. As an attorney for almost 10 years, I am tired of believing in a system that time and time again over the last few years has seemed to fail me and others that look like me. From Trayvon Martin in 2012 to Philando Castile in 2017, my faith in our justice system has waned more and more. In 2016, over 250 black people were killed by police with 39 of them being unarmed. (Source) I used to be the proud, defiant attorney that said “We have the best legal system in the world. I was not on the jury so I have to trust those decide makers’ decision.” And I am not saying these are necessarily untrue statements as they may be true. But one thing is true: Our American justice system is terribly flawed. And I intend to use my talents to do something about it.

I found my passion!…..I think…..

The above paragraph is one, if not the most important, factor that is driving my decision to transition out of the practice of law. I have never practiced criminal law. In fact, criminal law was the worse grade I ever received out of the 4 degrees that I have. (I am honored to have received that distinction from Dean Paul M. Kurtz at the University of Georgia.) The point is, I have never enjoyed or had an interest in criminal law for a variety of reasons. Instead, I decided in law school that securities law fascinated me—the way that companies could raise lots of money under a variety of regulatory schemes. My fascination only deepened with the passage of the “JOBS” Act by Congress in 2012. This enabled, at least in theory, even more people to raise capital for their business, particularly people that look like me. We should all know that entrepreneurship is one of the fastest ways to wealth creation and job creation. (Source) Therefore in 2015, I decided to focus my law practice on private securities law, helping as many minority and women owned founders raise capital as possible. I became a FINRA certified non-public arbitrator and kept up with every regulatory change from the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. Minorities and women are notorious for receiving less funding than their white, male counterparts. (Source) I had found my calling…or so I thought.

Reality Check!

For those of you that are not lawyers, particularly transactional lawyers, my life is an endless cycle of reading and paperwork. I am not Matlock. I rarely see the inside of a courtroom. I am not on camera defending clients in some flashy outfit. I am a detailed person sitting behind a desk, on the phone most of the time or filling out paperwork. This work was fulfilling at first—seeing someone take an idea and convince people to give them money to grow their business. But then shooting after shooting after shooting happened. Then in 2016 I started my non-profit with some interested parties to focus on minority and women entrepreneurs’ access to capital. It was then that I really started to examine the numbers and gap in wealth generation and sustainability between minority groups and women. (Source) And I was floored! Listen, I am a child of the South being raised here in Georgia but I am one generation removed from the Civil Rights Movement. Not sure why I was surprised, but I was. This revelation lit a fire under me that is hard to put into words even as I sit and write this blog. But I knew it was wrong and something had to be done.

The Epiphany: Money is the universal language.

It was in February of 2017 I had this epiphany. I was planning a “Signature Event” focused on women and minorities with the Technology Association on Georgia, of which I sit on their corporate development board. I always knew that economics is what made people in society and power pay attention to a people and to a cause. For example, the Montgomery Bus Boycott was an economic boycott. And I was not getting much done under the Gold Dome as a firebrand Democrat in a overwhelmingly controlled Republican state. So I thought “What would have the MOST impact on social injustices we are seeing today?” Money. The universal language of people is the same: money. Green is the color everyone wants to wear. Mess with someone’s money and you are going to get their attention. The reality is that money buys influence in elections (think judges and lawmakers), access to decision makers, and commands respect. It’s the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil but money, ladies and gentlemen, makes the world go ’round. But in order to control the purse strings, we have to have people of color and women that are in decision making positions both in government and in business. Enter my consulting firm to fulfill that mission.

My New Title: Chief Diversity Consultant

The Birth of a Mission

So here I am today as Chief Diversity Consultant for Kendrick Advisory & Advocacy Group, LLC, providing “hands on” consulting services to organizations that want to promote diversity in business and government decisions. (Website) We are looking for a few partners for a few initiatives that we have so if you are interested contact me. For example, I am looking for an organization or group of people that are interested in starting angel investor clubs or a group that would like to develop a program to train minorities and women to be on “for profit” corporate boards. (See proposals) In the meantime, we have some exciting events coming up that I hope you will participate in or share. I am but one Decatur bred woman born to lower class parents. There is always going to be someone prettier than me, smarter than me, richer than me or more powerful than me. But you are going to be pressed to find someone to outwork me. I have a mission and I hope you will join me.

#BeInTheRoom and #BeAtTheTable

The only way we are available and qualified when the time comes to put minorities and women in positions of power in government and business is if we SHOW UP. Here are a few opportunities below:

I am asked all the time about creating a venture fund to invest in black or women owned businesses. But it’s not as easy as it sounds! Let’s discuss requirements and options.

Register HERE.

This is my signature event between my non-profit, TAG (Technology Association of GA) and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, where I chair the Economic Development committee.

We have sold half our tickets. Get yours today!

We also have the 1st ever “Blacks in Tech” Policy Conference on November 8th, 2017. Only 200 free tickets available. Sign up for my enewsletter for more information on that coming soon.

Conclusion

Simply put: It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. I want a meaningful life.

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I am a Diversity Consultant & Owner of Kendrick Advisory and Advocacy Group L.L.C. providing “hands on” consulting services to organizations that want to promote diversity in business and government decisions. More information can be found online at www.DarshunKendrick.com about our vision for “Driving Diversity in Decisions.” I was featured in  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 a lawyer by trade, owner of Kendrick Law Practice, business attorney. I have 2 B.A.s from Oglethorpe University (2004), a law degree from the University of Georgia (2007) and a Master in Business Administration (2011).

I have been elected to the Georgia House of Representatives serving East DeKalb and South Gwinnett counties since 2011 where I serve as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business and Job Creation committee and chair the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Economic Development Committee.

In my spare time, I am also a board member of the Technology Association of Georgia’s corporate development board, the first sitting legislator to sit on any TAG board, and I am also the founder and Board Chair of a non-profit organization to EDUCATE and EMPOWER minorities on capital access called Minority Access to Capital, Inc.

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Policy

HIV/AIDS in Georgia: Startling facts & call to action!

AIDs Day.jpg

*Friday at 10:30 am I will be moderating a panel on “HIV and Black Women” so please join me under the Gold Dome for an insightful discussion on this important issue.

By now you know that World Aids Day was Tuesday, December 1st. One of the sayings on the World Aids Day organization’s website is “Kisses and Hugs Don’t Spread HIV. Ignorance Does.” Isn’t that the truth? The statistics and survival rates of HIV/AIDS patients has evolved since the 80s but more must be done by way of education to young adults and the population in Georgia specifically.

So here are a few facts you may not have known about HIV and AIDS specifically as it relates to Georgia.

  • Infection rates are high in Georgia and metro Atlanta, with metro-Atlanta ranked 5th in the country for new cases of HIV/Aids
  • Of the 19 public health districts in Georgia, 9 had an HIV/AIDS case rate above the national average.
  • Men who have had sex with men still represent the largest group of people living with HIV in metro Atlanta at 55%.
  • 16% of HIV/AIDS cases result from injection drug use, and the proportion of AIDS in women has grown from 4% to 19% since 1987.
  • While African Americans make up only 29% of Georgia’s population, they represent 77% of all new HIV/AIDS cases and 63% of all existing HIV/AIDS cases in Atlanta were among this group.
  •  Only 43.6% of Georgia residents diagnosed with HIV in 2011 were retained in HIV care, giving it the seventh worst ranking for retention in HIV medical care when ranked among the 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus District of Columbia) that have data for comparison.
  • Among HIV-positive Georgia residents who received HIV care at least once in 2010, only 54.9% had achieved viral suppression. Also, Georgia had the second worst statistic for viral suppression when ranked among 19 jurisdictions that have data for comparison.
  • According to Grady Hospital, by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one third have advanced to clinical AIDS, which greatly decreases the chances of survival from the virus.
  • African American women account for 87% of all women with HIV/AIDS in Atlanta.
  • 50% of new HIV/AIDS infections in Georgia are occurring in young adults age 16-24 years old.
  • According to Grady Hospital, by the time patients are diagnosed in Atlanta, almost one third have advanced to clinical AIDS, which greatly decreases the chances of survival from the virus.
  • Only 43.6% of Georgia residents diagnosed with HIV in 2011 were retained in HIV care, giving it the seventh worst ranking for retention in HIV medical care when ranked among the 19 jurisdictions (18 states plus District of Columbia) that have data for comparison.
  • Among HIV-positive Georgia residents who received HIV care at least once in 2010, only 54.9% had achieved viral suppression. Also, Georgia had the second worst statistic for viral suppression when ranked among 19 jurisdictions that have data for comparison.
  • According to Emory University, black gay men in Atlanta have a 60% chance of contracting HIV before their 30th birthday (Emory University)

Source: Community Foundation for the Greater Atlanta and the Georgia Department of Public Health (last accessed December 8, 2015)

Learn these facts and more about how policy makers will address this issue starting tomorrow under the Gold Dome. Join me and others to tackle this tough issue.

Discussion Question: What can state policy makers do, individually or collectively, to raise more awareness about this epidemic in Georgia?

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2015 At Desk

I have been elected to the House of Representatives since 2011, representing over 54,000 Georgians in East DeKalb and South Gwinnett counties. I currently serve on the Juvenile Justice, Interstate Cooperation, Judiciary Non-Civil, and as the ranking Democrat on the Small Business Development and Job Creation committee. I am a private securities lawyer by profession and a native of Atlanta, GA. Please visit my website , YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and slideshare account for more information on Georgia government.

 

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