It is easiest to write to you.
Without much ado, further explanation, or justification, I can quickly communicate my thoughts on what is much needed or wanting, and I find myself instantly transformed from leader, lecturer, athlete, activist and business owner to simply a young woman among peers. In fact, I communicate with you so often that I can sometimes get away with writing of topics more frivolous than the death-defying important work that we engage in year-round. This is such a letter. So, please let your hair down, kick off your heels, and enjoy this informal communication on your day of rest. You have all earned this rest day.
First, I’d like to thank you for your ongoing contribution to the well-being of society: you are all meaningful standard bearing women, and you perform a great service. The world is better off because you live and breathe. Second, I’d like to congratulate you: you each are truly are one in a million – true leaders at a time when society no longer comprehends what leadership is.
As I write, I am sitting in a bath robe, hair untouched, with a slight headache (too little sleep), because I, like many of you, have been burning the candle on both ends: staying up late and getting up early, so that our loved ones, friends, and allies in equity will thrive. Still, we must remember to take our own medicine and to not always live on the wild side – even if only to preserve our strength to continue good works: rest and rejuvenation is essential for a healthy mind and body. Without further ado, here is your informal briefing:
Banking, Business, and Core Values
I am still searching for a great bank. I continue to hear of incidents at Chase banks in New York, where Black American female customers are not treated with respect by Hispanic female employees. I myself have notified Chase of three such incidents to date where I was the party aggrieved, between 2019 and 2020. Without knowing of my experience, other Black women reported similar discriminatory conduct to me, after I recommended Chase to them, prior to my own bad encounters. Despite my three complaints to Chase, the reports I received citing similar misconduct have been ongoing. The last complaint I received was last week. Therefore, I believe this is indicative of a larger and more general problem at Chase, and this, of course, signals that the issue is top down and not bottom up. Managers that do not condone these acts would have addressed the issue. Thus, due to a failure to address and redress known acts of race related misconduct, Chase bank no longer has my vote of confidence or support.
So, I am searching for great financial institutions and professionals for a wide range of related services (necessarily, these individuals must be Black American descendants of U.S. slavery, which should reduce many ongoing issues with discrimination). Once I have found worthy institutions and individuals, I will conduct all of my business there, and, of course, I will also share my wealth of knowledge with you.
For now, Aspiration is also out. At a later date, I will share with you the correspondence I sent to Aspiration. I inquired into the equitable treatment of Black American customers and employees, distinct from support or aid to international and overseas Black territories. My communication went unanswered. A company that cannot respond to an inquiry from a prospective client on an important issue, i.e.: cannot provide assurances that Black American employees and customers are treated equitably by the company, cannot have my vote of confidence or support. Also, unrelated communication with Aspiration left me questioning the professionalism, skill, and character of their employees (I have shared this feedback with Aspiration). Thus, Aspiration, a self-proclaimed better financial service institution, does not have my vote of confidence or support; Aspiration does not appear to care about the values and issues most important to us: equity for all – inclusive of Black Americans.
Citi Bank is also eliminated. Citi’s recruiting, hiring, and retention policies are at odds with the moral and lawful conduct requirements I myself enforce across my businesses. An Israeli (male), Nigerian (male), and Black American female are central to this determination. Drug use: cocaine and marijuana, excessive drinking and disorderly conduct, domestic violence, two non-junior company males denigrating Black American women, and all three conspiring with successful results to ensure it was not the Black girl who walked down the aisle are central to this determination. There is never an excuse for such blatant malignant race-based attacks on an individual, and I will reject all such businesses who retain individuals of such low moral and ethical character.
As an American, and a Black woman, it is an added offense when a person who themself, their parents or grandparents, moves to the U.S. from another country, seeking protection on the basis of hardship and persecution, betters themself and family, and then begins denigrating citizens of their adopted new country based on race and their perceived, new-found superior status (made possible by the hardships endured by the citizens being denigrated). The Black American female’s contribution was denigrating her fellow Black American female in the hope that the groom-to-be would be hers. The groom-to-be ultimately accepted unwise counsel from his discriminating comrades: he walked down the aisle with a white woman. (Yes, a Black Nigerian can hate Black people. In my experience, Black immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean frequently voice a clear preference for whites and Hispanics – in that order – and this causes tension between Black Americans and Black immigrants who move to the U.S., particularly, when the basis of immigration to the U.S. was marriage, hardship or persecution. In my experience, Black immigrants who arrive to the U.S. based on merit do not share or demonstrate the same toxic race-based, oppressor-based ideology as their peers.)
As a Black woman living in America, and a descendant of U.S. government sanctioned slaves, I am used to seeing and hearing Black American non-immigrants denigrated, diminished, devalued, and disparaged – including by immigrants who now consider the U.S. to be home. To those who call the United States home and disparage its lawful Black citizens, the rank discrimination you sow today is the same ground which you, your children and loved ones must walk on: beware of what you sow.
As a business owner, and an American, I believe that there are certain duties and responsibilities which come with the great privilege of owning a business or achieving any kind of true success in America. Leadership is key among them. It is a non-delegable duty for Americans who hold positions of leadership and influence to ensure that those under our charge are not only informed of our essential values and traditions but that they also abide by them. A lucrative position and a high salary are privileges, not entitlements, and should be a strong incentive for employees to adopt and maintain a good moral and lawful character, in accord with laws of the United States. This begins with management. When employees commit brazen immoral and unlawful acts, you will usually find that management commits similar acts: fruit rarely falls far from its tree.
I continue to have difficulty finding non-immigrant Black American businesses, which I strongly prefer to Black businesses in general. As a Black American, with businesses whose aim and mission is to provide redress to Black Americans who have never been recompensed for the past and present harm done by the U.S. government, I am compelled to advocate for the support of Black American businesses. (In Italy, our focus is redressing wrongs committed against Italians; in Brazil, we focus on redressing injustice against Brazilians, and so on: we believe in being good neighbors wherever we go, and we always side with the aggrieved party who is not culpable for immoral or unlawful acts. We abstain where an aggrieved party is involved in moral or lawful failure which led to their harm.) There is a great lack of support and visibility for Black Americans in business, so supporting Black American businesses will continue to be a priority for us until equity prevails.
To this end, I am seeking a Black American Christian bookstore, financial professionals, lawyers, attorneys, security personnel, fitness instructors, doctors – the list is as representative as there are professions in the world. I am seeking to switch all of my personal and professional service providers to Black American professionals or an individual from an allied region or nationality. More about our allied forces and relationships at a later date. My priority in America is supporting Black Americans, without sacrificing quality, to redress uncompensated harm.
One of the issues I have with supporting businesses owned and managed by Black immigrants within the United States is that they never cease to remind all that their priority and allegiance is to their nation of origin or ethnic land. I find it to be an added affront when Black immigrants use the painful and lived experiences of Black Americans in America to urge Americans to support Black immigrants – without partnering or building relations with the Black American community. Most often, these efforts lack earnest reciprocity, and the support sought is at the expense of Black Americans whose goal is not to strengthen the economy of another land. There is no reciprocity, and an entitlement almost equal to that of white oppression towards Black Americans.
Recently, someone I considered a friend asked me to support an African charitable venture. I told him I found the timing, delivery, and substance of his ask difficult: was he not aware that Black American children were also suffering in the midst of a health and racial justice pandemic within the United States? Children of his adopted country, the United States, where he presently lives and works, and bearing his skin tone, are hungry, living in poverty, and brutalized. The ongoing protests in American streets was a stark reminder of the injustices faced by Black Americans in America which no one could forget. It became apparent that our friendship was as valuable as any tangible benefit which might further advance his reputation and charitable interests back home: the place which held his heart. I was suddenly aware that at no time during our association did he take an active interest in the issues most urgent to Black Americans; his every effort focused on his community – Africans.
As for me, my household, and my businesses, I believe in being a good neighbor. I know the devastation, poverty, and the overwhelming adverse and long-lasting effect of being deprived of civil and human rights or simply being surrounded by immoral individuals. So, when in Rome, I choose to adopt and champion the causes and concerns of the country and people who so graciously welcome me, an outsider and an immigrant, and I put aside cares and concerns which are not then relevant to the community which I am then part of. This doesn’t mean that I lose myself, it means I am a gracious, decent, aware and reciprocal neighbor.
Entitlement is dead
As a company we will no longer gratuitously give service tips where and when that service is lacking. Leaving a high tip, regardless of service, has been our standard until now. Previously, we felt, as standard bearers and leaders, it was necessary to leave a high tip, regardless of service, because we wanted the establishment and individual to remember how they were treated by us, and to extend great service to all Black humans, all Americans, and all humans generally. This has not been fruitful for us. We have tipped exorbitantly high, been kind in the face of inexcusable neglect and incompetence, and many times intentionally failed to report bad employees for fear that they would lose their job. The reward was not befitting the acts of benevolence and charity: establishments CONTINUED to provide old food (which we discarded), and to employ faithless, bad-acting and rude employees. Incompetent and undeserving employees continued to act poorly, while acting entitled to gratuities – despite not performing the service for which they are paid (Verizon, for example). Therefore, going forward, we will only give gratuities to those who earn them, we will dismiss faithless workers, and we will complain if Chase, Verizon, and other businesses insist on hiring and retaining faithless, bad acting, or discriminatory workers.
No person or entity is above the law
We have come to terms with an issue which has long been a topic of conversation behind closed doors: as Christians, and leaders, what do we do about the ongoing immoral and unlawful conduct rampant and unaddressed in Christian churches? What is our responsibility when those from a community of which we identify are the bad actors? We have now resolved this question, as we have never shied away from or remained silent – even when members from our own communities were in the wrong. As Christians we must speak out against all immoral and unlawful acts, including immoral and unlawful conduct taking place in the church and by members of our own race, association, or affiliation. We have maintained this standard privately but we are now making this public. We do not wish that any person views our lack of a public statement as an endorsement, thereby increasing the likelihood that one of you is victimized because we did not inform you why we no longer support specific religious institutions. Armed with the general facts, you can make an informed decision.
An unimpeachable record on civil and human rights
Many are aware that I am estranged from many in my natural family: I cannot condone, support, or benefit in any way an individual who commits violent, sexual, and perverse acts on any woman, child, or human. Period. So, in a similar manner, we must also withdraw from churches where we are made aware that there are immoral and unlawful acts taking place. We cannot remain in dens of iniquity or look away simply because it bears the label of a church. We strongly condemn any institution that participates in misconduct, ignores misconduct, or shields wrongdoers for any reason. I have withdrawn from three New York City churches in the last year. I personally notified all three churches of ongoing and active criminal and/or immoral conduct within their walls. I am now aware that unbeknownst to me these churches were previously earlier made aware of similar misconduct. These institutions failed to cure known harms or to act as a reasonably prudent person when notified of such harms. Due to ongoing criminal investigations, and additional victims which may still come forward, I will not at this time identify the churches by name. I stand in support of all persons who wish you make a criminal complaint against any institution, including a church, that permits, allows, or does not prevent criminal acts by proper due diligence. May you prevail in your efforts.
To this end – protecting the community, and performing our duty as leaders and standard bearers – we have expanded and updated our guidance on how we support community initiatives, and how we advise others who provide this support.
Personal note: this past year, and even further back, every white woman (to include a pastor, Assistant District Attorney, attorney, detective, medical doctor, and a therapist) tasked with working with me on matters concerning criminal acts committed against a Black woman demonstrated classic and well-known forms of racism – to include: disparaging the claims of a Black woman, seeking a Black scape goat while ignoring complainant’s claims that a white individual was involved or responsible, stating outright that the complaint or conduct was exaggerated, repeatedly texting and smiling gleefully at text messages while a Black complainant was reporting and describing a rape, and other nonsensical, inexcusable, denigrating and traumatic, unjust racist behavior.
These acts were committed by white women employed in positions of power and prestige, tasked with essential public functions, to include the performance of criminal investigations and prosecutions, medical and health services, counseling, and other support services. There is no excuse or justification for what I witnessed and experienced first-hand by these white women. Therefore, not only will we commit to hiring only members of and from the community being supported by us, we insist that public service functions performed by the U.S. government require that a competent staff, sharing the same race, ethnicity and background of the community, be on hand to facilitate such public functions and to receive and act on any complaint of wrong doing committed during the service. This is necessary to ensure that victims and complainants receive adequate and equitable support and protection from tax-funded public services. It is the responsibility and duty of the U.S. government to ensure that Black Americans are not re-traumatized by racist, uncaring, and unlawful responses by those in public function positions. I further call upon the United States government to conduct competent investigations into every complaint against a provider or institution who commits these acts, and to defund them and bar them from re-entering service when culpable conduct is found: the lip service paid to equal and civil rights is failing Black Americans. Do not watch silently, believing that only Black Americans will get burned.
To the women who inspire us through perseverance, diligence, resilience, courage and great kindness, I wish you a victorious 2021.
Love, warmth, and kindness,