In this moment, we at TXV have taken the time to reflect on the world. We are a firm that is both Black and White, and old and young. We stand in solidarity with the peaceful protesters against police brutality and systemic racism. It is for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery that this is written, and their blood cries out for justice from the ground, along with the unnamed and un-filmed across our history. The violence that took their lives and countless others is the same violence that we see in the systemic racism that results in African Americans facing higher levels of unemployment, worse schools, and poverty. We affirm that Black Lives Matter because we fundamentally recognize the dignity of Black human beings and the reality of race in this country.
America is the country of Emmett Till, Abner Louima, and George Floyd. It’s also the country of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, and Abraham Lincoln. We have a dark soul and a heroic struggle. This country has its flaws. We’ve seen lynchings, the scourge of poverty, and the injustice of the criminal system. But America is not a soulless country. The same men who owned slaves laid the groundwork for a country where the tired, the poor, the huddled masses can breathe free. We are a country where all are created equal, where we have the right to live in dignity, and where we are bestowed with a great burden and a great privilege: to build a country that strives for its highest aspirations. In this moment, we recognize the weight of our burdens as American citizens, and we must find the strength of our resolve. This burden can be lifted from future generations.
The American experiment has produced the world’s greatest democracy. The men and women who pursued our Independence took a leap of faith in the pursuit of human dignity, which it is our responsibility to defend. We have been challenged by racial injustice since our founding, and we have continually found the courage to combat it by wielding courage, empathy, and a generous spirit. We must individually take responsibility for the current situation that we are in. We have the chance to re-affirm the human dignity of all of our citizens, not just some.
It’s time to learn. It’s time to tell the truth. It’s time to have grace. It’s easy to feel hurt right now. It’s understandable to get angry. It is work to love one another in times of crisis. Love must be our North Star. Justice is built on its foundation. Martin Luther King and many others showed us what it is like to be love warriors: to face oppression, manipulation, and brute force armed with nothing but courage of spirit and a profound hope in a future that they did not know would come. Many would die in dreams unfulfilled. They showed us that love is the most powerful weapon, because only love can overcome anything.
It’s time to take up the mantle. It’s time to practice empathy. It’s time to become our own leadership rather than wait around for others. Lucky for us, we’ve been shown how it’s done. We can follow King’s example, Lincoln’s example, Douglass’ example. We can ensure that every right enumerated in the US Constitution is upheld for every fellow American. This is the country we have, and it’s a beautiful one. It has a dark underbelly, but this great social experiment is far from over. We’ve shirked our responsibility for far too long, and it is time that we face it bravely.
A reckoning on the issue of police brutality and racial inequality is long past due. We must face reality. We must evaluate the things done in our name, and whether we as a society and as individuals can live with this. The answer, for us, is absolutely not. The time may be grim, but this is what is required to find the better angels of our nature, to become our best selves.
TXV is ready to lead. You’re ready to lead. In your business, your classroom, your synagogue, church, or mosque. Lead for justice. Lead with love. Let grace be your shield and compassion your weapon. Out of this national moment, we have made three resolutions.
- We will continue to maintain a relationship with the United Negro College Fund and the Equal Justice Initiative. Education and justice, for us, go hand in hand. This relationship will be a permanent fixture of our philanthropic commitments, as it has been thus far.
- Recognizing the degree to which African Americans, women, and Hispanics have traditionally received marginal funding from the venture capital industry writ large, we are targeting that 35% of our capital will go into companies run by underrepresented minorities and women. This is merely a floor which we will try and achieve to rectify the injustice in this disparity.
- We recognize that there are 40mm unemployed people in this country right now, and we know that economic contractions affect certain communities first. African Americans have historically been “last hired, first fired.” We will encourage every single one of our portfolio companies to make a specific commitment to a level of diversity they need to achieve, and start working towards that goal from their very next hire.
Let’s emerge from this better. Let’s be brave in the attempt.