Do Black VCs have a responsibility to the Black Community?

A friend shared an article on Facebook on Why more Black elected officials hasn’t created better outcomes for Black Americans. As I read the article, I thought of the parallels of Black elected officials who exist in historically White domains and Black venture capitalists who also operate in historically White domains. The article gives reasoning to why the increase of Black elected officials has not shifted outcomes for Black Americans. My selected takeaway — Black elected officials cannot push for legislation within a system in which they are also oppressed. Due to systematic racism, their very presence in these historically white spaces will be over-scrutinized. Therefore there’s pressure to uphold an unjust system and in some cases become an extreme enforcer of the injustice.

Are there parallels between the Black elected official and Black venture capitalists in their responsibilities to the Black community? Could the pressure for Black venture capitalist just existing in a White industry simply produce copycat investments that results in status quo returns or worse (imho) result in products that are unintentionally harmful to Black communities?

There’s a nuanced joke that a Black capitalist is still just a capitalist. The phrase is rooted in a belief that capitalism in the US is inherently racist and anti-Black — given the country’s origins of White people buying and selling Black people with capital, and generating wealth from unpaid Black labor. There are also critiques of US capitalism in its current form being a major driver in the US’s inequities and racial disparities. There’s no doubt that investors who make decisions on which products and business models are funded play a role in driving these inequities.

It may be a futile exercise to compare elected Black officials to Black venture capitalists. Elected officials are chosen by their constituents and morally should have their constituents’ best interest when creating laws and policy. On the other hand, venture capitalists are financial professionals with an objective of producing high financial returns for their investors. Do Black venture capitalists have the additional an obligation of advancing and supporting the Black community?

Unpopular opinion: It is not the Black venture capitalist’s obligation to advance or create economic opportunities for Black Americans. It is an obligation or should be an imperative of the venture capital industry as a whole.

My loose thoughts on why:

  • A significant source of capital in VC comes from large foundations. Many of these foundations are working on their grant making side to bridge inequities and create economic opportunities. These same pillars of bridging inequities should also exist when foundations consider investments in fund managers.
  • Increasing the financial health of historically overlooked communities creates more investors and increases the pool of capital
  • In 2020, it is just racist to keep operating at current status quo.

***This is part of the HBCUvc daily post challenge. This is post 6. Please forgive typos, errors, or any temporary moments of sanity. The goal is to just write.***

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About Hadiyah

Practicing loving God, neighbors, and myself daily. Leveraging venture capital to advance racial equity at HBCUvc.