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iWomanTV founder Cathleen Trigg-Jones comes to the defense of the Fearless Fund

By Cathleen Trigg-Jones, iWomanTV Founder

In my many years as an Emmy award-winning journalist and as the founder of iWomanTV, I have covered stories that inspire change, lift voices, and celebrate the triumphs of women, particularly women of color. Today, I am compelled to speak out against a lawsuit that strikes at the very heart of these ideals.

The lawsuit filed by the group which challenged the legality of affirmative action in higher education, against the venture fund backing Black female founders for racial bias, is a travesty. It's not just an attack on this particular fund, known for championing diversity and inclusivity, it represents a potential precursor to attacks on corporate Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) efforts that have been slowly and steadily gaining traction in our society.

The Fearless Fund, the grant program specifically targeted by this lawsuit, awards $20,000 grants to women of color entrepreneurs, as a small effort to mitigate the reality that Black women founders receive less than 1% of U.S. Venture Capital (VC) funding. The maximum investment the Fearless Fund has given away is $2.5-million which is a relatively small amount in the VC world.

In its suit, the American Alliance for Equal Rights, founded by anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, alleges that the Fearless Fund violates the Civil Rights Act prohibiting racial bias in private contracts by only awarding grants to Black women. 

As a Black female-owned business that has benefited from the Fearless Fund, receiving a $20,000 “Women of Color” grant for iWomanTV, I can personally attest to the transformative power of such support. This grant was more than just financial backing; it was a validation of our mission, a recognition of our potential, and a statement of belief in what we could achieve.

The Fearless Fund's commitment to investing in Black female entrepreneurs is not a divisive act but an inclusive gesture. It acknowledges the disparities and challenges we face in the business landscape and seeks to create a more equitable environment where innovation and excellence are nurtured, regardless of race or gender.

What the lawsuit fails to recognize is the nuance and necessity of targeted support for underrepresented groups. In my own experience, the “Women of Color” grant did not only boost iWomanTV's growth but also strengthened our resolve to be agents of positive change in the media industry. We are now part of a community that celebrates diversity, encourages collaboration, and amplifies voices that might otherwise be unheard.

As we move forward, it is my hope that we will not lose sight of the larger picture. We must resist efforts that seek to dilute or diminish the strides made in the direction of equity. Instead, we must continue to build upon them, nurturing an ecosystem where diversity is not just tolerated but celebrated.

At a time when we should be promoting diversity and inclusion, this lawsuit threatens to undermine the hard work of so many individuals and organizations dedicated to empowering women of color. The Fearless Fund, aptly named, has been at the forefront of supporting Black female entrepreneurs, fostering innovation, and bridging the gap that so glaringly exists in the world of venture capital.

I firmly believe that empowerment does not and should not mean the disempowerment of others. Supporting Black female founders does not equate to racial bias, but rather, it is a conscious attempt to level the playing field in an arena that has long been skewed.

We must recognize that this lawsuit is not just a legal battle; it is a symbol of the larger struggles faced by those fighting for justice and equality. We cannot allow misguided accusations to deter us from our path towards a more inclusive and compassionate society.

I stand with the Fearless Fund, and I hope you will too. Let us rally together to ensure that diversity, equity, and inclusion remain integral to our shared values, not just as corporate buzzwords but as foundational principles guiding our society towards a brighter future.

The Fearless Fund, and initiatives like it, are vital components of this vision, and I am proud to stand with them, not only as a beneficiary but as a believer in their mission.

Let us be fearless in our support for one another and unyielding in our pursuit of a more just and compassionate world.

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