Edward Blum, an activist who in June 2023 successfully pressed the U.S. Supreme Court to outlaw affirmative action in collegiate admissions, is now targeting Black-/BIPOC-focused funding in beauty via his American Alliance for Equal Rights nonprofit, per Reuters.
The case could have major implications for Black- and BIPOC-founded companies, which have traditionally lagged behind Caucasian founders in terms of funding.
In the wake of the murder of George Floyd in 2020, numerous incubators and funding programs popped up, seeking to fill historical gaps. Examples include Black Girl Ventures x Rare Beauty Brands, Credo for Change, Sephora's accelerator, BeautyUnited and of course the Fearless Fund, which has supported brands such as Bread Beauty Supply, Kushae and Thirteen Lune.
Blum's organization is claiming that Fearless Fund "is violating Section 1981 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866, a U.S. law barring racial bias in private contracts, by making only Black women eligible in a grant competition."
The case is filed in federal court in Atlanta, per Reuters, and argues that the Fearless Fund's Fearless Strivers Grant Contest, "which awards Black women who own small businesses $20,000 in grants, digital tools to help them grow their businesses and mentorship opportunities provided in conjunction with Mastercard," unconstitutionally excludes white and Asian small business owners.
This is just the first case in what could be a larger action, Reuters reported. Blum "hopes to pursue through the American Alliance for Equal Rights to broadly challenge race-based policies used by private corporations."
This could potentially impact diversity, equity and inclusion programs, as well as funding platforms.