Given the chance, black innovators will change the world, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett said Tuesday in Washington DC.
Plaskett was speaking at the inaugural event of the newly created Congressional Caucus on Black Innovation, which she co-chairs with Washington State Rep. Marilyn Strickland and New York Rep. Ritchie Torres.
“We all know that once black people get their hands on something, it becomes something completely different,” Plaskett said. “Failure to support black innovators is stunting economic growth for everyone, for all Americans, for our world.”
The new caucus exists to engage policymakers in championing the technological, creative, economic and social advancements of black innovators across all industries, Plaskett said.
Plaskett said the caucus was formed to address the challenges facing black innovators.
“There are significant barriers and disparities that impede the growth of black innovators, including insufficient access to capital, inequitable legislation, regulatory barriers, limited philanthropic support,” Plaskett said. “CBI is uniquely positioned to address these obstacles.”
As a member of the House Ways and Means, Budget and Agriculture committees, Plaskett said she is well-positioned to address the structural and policy issues facing black innovators.
Speakers at Tuesday’s event spoke about the obvious obstacles — racist remnants of slavery and modern systemic forms of oppression like discriminatory lending practices — and more subtle challenges like the lack of trust that some black innovators feel after a lifetime of being told they’re not. worthy.
Plaskett looked around the guests gathered at the Capitol Building’s House Triangle and asked them to take a moment to appreciate each other’s beauty. Then she gave a mandate: “Hold Congress to the test. Put Wall Street to the test.
Achieving full parity between black and white businesses would add $290 billion to the economy, she said. Only 4% of black-owned businesses reach their fourth year, compared to 55.5% of other businesses. Black women-owned businesses grow faster than any other demographic, Plaskett said, but have lower capital investment than others.
“Black founders only received 1.2% – 1.2% – of the record $147 billion in venture capital invested in startups in 2021,” she said. “We formed this caucus to provide a space to confront these realities.”
The caucus was backed by the like-minded organization Black Innovation Alliance.
Those who gathered or spoke at events later in the day included Fay Cobb Payton, program manager at the Kapor Center, which works to break down barriers to teaching science, technology, from engineering and math and technology careers for underrepresented people of color; Henry McKoy, faculty member and director of entrepreneurship at North Carolina Central University; Kimberly Tignor, Executive Director of the Institute for Intellectual Property and Social Justice; Fallon Wilson, co-founder of Black Tech Futures, a research institute and national association of the black tech ecosystem; Ivory Toldson, professor of counseling psychology at Howard University; futurist and economist Catherine D. Henry; Cleve Mesidor, Executive Director of the Blockchain Foundation; crowdfunding expert Ruth E. Hedges; Alex Camerdelle, poverty and social justice researcher; and data security innovator Jessica B. Lee; among others, according to the Black Innovation Alliance.