Pride was never just a celebration. It has always been a protest.
History lesson: The Stonewall Riots back in 1969 were led by the legendary Marsha P. Johnson and Slyvia Rivera, two Black and Brown trans women. They were the catalyst of the gay rights movement, and what we know as Pride today. Dontcha forget it.
As a Black queer woman, each time I step outside of my apartment I am protesting—fighting to be seen, heard, and valued.
By the looks of it, Pride is not cancelled this year. Instead, it showed up dressed as an international movement against police brutality, racial injustice, and the dehumanization of Black and trans bodies—the most authentic iteration of Pride.
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Did you know that of the 1,800 new businesses started by women in this country every single day, 89% are founded by a woman of color? Yet we all know the sobering stats by now: women of color entrepreneurs receive less than 1% of VC funding.
To address this funding gap, I had the honor of announcing the launch of IFundWomen of Color in partnership with Caress at the New York City Women’s March. IFWOC is a platform dedicated to supporting diverse entrepreneurs with access to the capital, coaching, and connections needed to launch and grow successful businesses. Since the announcement, the team at IFundWomen has been hard at work building the IFundWomen of Color community from the ground up - the response has been incredible. We continue to receive hundreds of applications and have had entrepreneurs apply from almost every U.S. state, with a bulk of our entrepreneurs hailing from New York, California, Georgia, Texas, Maryland, Florida and Illinois.
We’ve built a community of women who are building platforms to decrease the number of students with undiagnosed learning disorders, taking a one-size-does-not-fit-all approach to the tools we use to take care of our hair, and reimagining the products we use to sanitize and clean our homes.
With applications pouring in and excitement mounting for IFWOC, our lives completely changed in an instant when the global COVID-19 pandemic shut down businesses around the country and forced millions of Americans to stay at home and shelter in place. A majority of our entrepreneurs saw revenue disappear overnight and their businesses slow down to a stand still. The second blow to our community came in the pursuit of federal aid. The Paycheck Protection Program reconfirmed what we already knew: minority-owned businesses are continuously shut out of traditional funding options.
In response, IFundWomen worked closely with Caress to immediately identify opportunities to support women of color as they bring their ideas to life during this critical time.
I am so proud to share that Caress has committed $1,000,000 over the next 2 years, with $500,000 in COVID-19 relief grants to support women of color-owned small businesses in the IFundWomen community. 200 women of color-owned businesses from the IFundWomen of Color community will each receive a $2500 COVID-19 relief grant through this partnership.