When we originally scheduled the pitch, America was #zoombombing its way through a pandemic. Then, George Floyd was murdered and everything changed.
Since then, I’ve read more CEO letter’s and saw more talking heads make statements for sides of the conversation that I didn’t even know existed.
I heard many points be made, both good and bad. But, I thought it was necessary.
It was time — time for many of us privileged enough to never have to live in fear to shut our mouthes and listen. To actually HEAR our fellow neighbors, friends and family members from the black community STAND UP and DEMAND the respect and dignity that they have so courageously earned.
I talked to several black community leaders, I learned a lot. I heard from many black founders and business leaders, I learned lot. I heard from dozens of white founders, investors and politicians, I learned a lot. (mostly I learned that we need to listen more… and that access to quality education is more important than ever).
But, what I really learned is that we’re not really talking about what matters most, the one thing that we all control, and that is OUR ACTIONS. We each make choices every single day that continue to aid the spread of bigotry and systemic racism.
I learned that we all need to start making more decisions with our heart instead of our pockets. And, I learned that from a 16 year old girl named Tyla Simone Crayton; who happens to be the founder of the most delicious sauce called, Sienna Sauce.
[you can invest in her company, here]
It’s a conscious choice. When we vote, we vote with our pockets (many even proudly use it as an excuse), rather than voting for what is RIGHT!
As a black, female founder (who’s not even old enough to vote, I might add), Tyla was forced to make the ultimate choice — choose between her pocketbook and her heart. And, I think that is a very sad reality for a 16 year old with dreams of building a business to face.
Should I make a statement in protest? Will it alienate my investors, many of whom are white? Or should I do what I know is right, Tyla told me in our interview.
In that moment, she realized what so many of us seem to have forgotten. If my partners, customers, investors, bosses, mentors, family, friends, followers, co-workers, and on and on believe what has been going on in this country is right, or ok… then I don’t WANT their money. I don’t NEED their money. And, I won’t TAKE their money.
That’s a very adult choice. One that millions of business leaders across the country did not make. Again. And, again. AND AGAIN. But, Tyla made that choice.
She made the right choice. And, so should we.
She rallied her peers, participated in peaceful protest and used her large social following (personal and professional) to do the right thing. Which is to point out that for her and millions of girls just like her in this country, it is finally time to truly make America great; because for many people like Tyla, America hasn’t ever been great!
It can’t be. Not until ALL Americans are treated equally, without exception.