Since the inception of Impact Hub Houston, we have worked to build not only an inclusive and equitable community, but also a welcoming and supportive one — a community that opens it doors, resources, and network to people from all walks of life. You can see it in our team, in our board, in our partners, and in our mentors and advisors. You can see it in our community, on our panels, in our workshops, and at our events.
To us, diversity is not just a commitment — diversity is who we are. Diversity is the expression of our very existence. It’s why inclusion and equity are core to what we do: If we leave anyone behind, we fail. If we lock anyone out, we lose. If we do not work to engage, empower, and elevate our neighbors who have been overlooked, marginalized, disadvantaged, under-served and under-invested in, we cannot build an authentic ecosystem that looks like Houston, works like Houston, and works for Houston. For one of the largest and most diverse communities in the United States, anything that falls short of that would be unacceptable.
Which brings me to the reason for writing this. Amidst a sea of statements on racism and police violence against black Americans from many of the world’s leading companies, triggered by the murder in Minneapolis of Houston’s own George Perry “Big Floyd,” Jr., we did not want to add more noise to the fray. We opted to step back and make space for black voices to be heard and amplified. So we joined #BlackOutTuesday on social media and shared resources from black leaders and ways to support black lives.
Rather than issue a statement, we let our actions speak for us.
Our team continued to serve our members, support diverse entrepreneurs, and address inequalities:
- We partnered with NextSeed to keep local restaurants open, feed frontline healthcare workers, and keep essential workers employed — the majority of whom are women and people of color.
- We partnered with HCC and The H-Force and with re:3D on “PPE For The People,” providing protective equipment to minority-owned businesses and workers in black and low-income communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
- We partnered with the national Page 30 Coalition, StartUsUp and the Hispanic Star campaign to drive policies that support minority-owned businesses and hold our elected officials accountable for implementing equity-focused elements of the CARES Act.
- We partnered with the global COVID Response Alliance for Social Entrepreneurs to create a resource for purpose-driven people around the world and in our community to find funding and guidance through the coronavirus crisis.
- We have continued crowdfunding to launch entrepreneurial education programs for Hispanic/Latinx entrepreneurs, female founders, and minority youth.
- …And through all of that, we continue to provide mentorship, virtual programs, and support for our diverse members and startup community.
But the violence hasn’t stopped. The virus hasn’t stopped. And both continue attacking communities of color in ways we can’t solve in silence.
In public spaces across America, we watch as peaceful protesters and journalists exercising their First Amendment rights get tazed, pepper–sprayed, shot with rubber bullets and flashbangs, beaten, kicked, knocked unconscious, rammed by vehicles, hospitalized and arrested without cause…by the very people who are supposed to serve and protect us. We’ve seen white people call the cops and attempt to weaponize the police against men of color. At the same time, Houston and Texas have seen the highest increases in COVID-19 cases since the pandemic hit our region.
We must ask ourselves tough questions.
We must not re-build broken systems, but re-imagine better ones.
We must co-create transformational, generational change.
We must act loudly.
- We stand against racism, colorism, and all forms of discrimination, hate, and humiliation.
- We will convene diverse organizations and organizers to identify root causes of systemic disparities, and collaborate with them to develop holistic solutions for equitable outcomes.
- We will divest from partnerships and projects that perpetuate institutionalized discrimination.
- We will invest in re-imagining and co-creating programs that generate inclusive opportunities for upward mobility and wealth creation for the historically disadvantaged.
- We will call out performative activities and prejudices that prevent full economic justice and equal opportunity for our diverse communities.
- We will hold ourselves publicly accountable to these commitments.
We cannot wait for someone else to save the day.
We must become the heroes of our own story.
We invite you to join us and be the change, too.
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”
– John Lewis
Resources to learn more about the underlying issues and ways to practice inclusion and allyship:
- HBR: Businesses Must Take Meaningful Action Against Racism
- Anti-Racist Resource Guide for the Tech and VC Community
- How to Be Anti-Racist: Discussion Guide
- Obama Foundation: Anguish and Action Resources
- Anti-Racism Books and Resources
- Movement for Black Lives: Week of Action
- Campaign Zero for Police Reform
- En Español:https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1DbS6Q9oSfLbShmkNrkTgaDVHGedpYrCI-Pq6RDUcYrY