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Category Archives: The Post-Racial Life

Misty Copeland on Visiting Cuba and Diversity in Dance

Few Americans realize that some of the best Ballet dancers in the world hail from Cuba…

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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Racism in the American Muslim World

Interesting take on racism in the Muslim world, between Muslims.

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Muslim Americans Are United by Trump—and Divided by Race

Facing increasing hostility from the administration, the religious community also has to cope with its own internal tensions.

When weary Muslims gathered in Toronto in December for an annual retreat, marking the end of a tumultuous U.S. election year, they probably didn’t expect the event to turn into a referendum on racial tensions within the American Muslim community. But it did.

One session was led by Hamza Yusuf, a well respected white scholar who co-founded Zaytuna College, which claims to be America’s first Muslim liberal-arts college. At the end, he was asked whether Muslims should work with groups like Black Lives Matter. “The United States is probably, in terms of its laws, one of the least racist societies in the world,” he replied. “We have between 15,000 and 18,000 homicides per year. Fifty percent are black-on-black crime, literally. … There are twice as many whites that have been shot by police, but nobody ever shows those videos.”

He went on. “It’s the assumption that the police are racist. It’s not always the case,” he said. “Any police now that shoots a black is immediately considered a racist.”

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The backlash on social media was swift and immense. “For black Muslims, hearing this from somebody we’ve all come to love and trust—it was a cold slap in the face,” said Ubaydullah Evans, the executive director of the American Learning Institute for Muslims, who is black. He said he saw Yusuf’s comments as a way of perpetuating myths about “black pathology” and blaming African Americans for violence. Yusuf’s statements were indeed somewhat misleading: While a greater number of white people have been shot by the police compared to black people, that statistic doesn’t account for population size. When that adjustment is made, historical data shows that black people are more likely to be shot by police than white people.

Even though slightly less than one-third of American Muslims are black, according to Pew Research Center, American Muslims are most often represented in the media as Arab or South Asian immigrants. The distinction between the African-American Muslim experience and that of their immigrant co-religionists has long been a source of racial tension in the Muslim community, but since the election, things have gotten both better and worse. While some Muslims seem to be paying more attention to racism because of Donald Trump, others fear that any sign of internal division is dangerous for Muslims in a time of increased hostility.

While the Toronto conference was upsetting, Evans said, he doesn’t think it’s representative of the biggest racial problems in the American Muslim community. White racism toward black people is “not the kind of racism that circumscribes my life as an American Muslim,” he told me. “It’s the social racism I experience from people of Arab descent, of Southeast Asian descent. This is the racism no one is talking about.”

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The wave of immigration that shaped today’s American Muslim population began in the 1960s, after Congress lifted previous race-based restrictions on immigration. In many ways, this surge was directly connected to the work of black Muslims and others involved in the civil-rights movement: The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 allowed far greater numbers of people from Asia and Africa to emigrate to the U.S. As of 2014, an estimated 61 percent of Muslims were immigrants, according to Pew, and another 17 percent were the children of immigrants. Many of the perceived racial tensions among Muslims come from conflicts between these immigrant communities and non-immigrants, who are often black.

“Immigrant Muslims had a convenient comfort zone,” said Omar Suleiman, an imam based in Dallas who serves as president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. As each new immigrant community established its own mosques and community centers, portions of the Muslim American population became segregated by ethnicity and income. For non-black Muslims who grew up in the suburbs, attended private schools, and rarely encountered black Muslims in their mosques, it’s easy “to internalize many of the poisonous notions about the black community that … diminish the pain of those communities,” he said.

These stereotypes are sometimes perpetuated by leaders like Yusuf. Toward the end of the Toronto conference, he apologized for the ambiguity of his previous comments, but clarified that he believes “the biggest crisis facing the African American community in the United States is not racism. It is the breakdown of the black family.” The line won huge applause in the presentation hall where Yusuf was speaking. But online, there was yet more backlash: Kameelah Rashad, a black Muslim chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, started tweeting out pictures under the hashtag #blackMuslimfamily, for example, to protest Yusuf’s remarks. (Yusuf declined a request for an interview.)

Some Muslims believe “we shouldn’t talk about anti-blackness within the community, because we’re under siege by Islamophobes. This is not the right time to air internal laundry,” Rashad said. But “if I have to contend with anti-Muslim bigotry outside of the Muslim community, and within my own community, I’m having to push back on anti-black racism, I’m kind of fighting a war on two fronts.”

Racial dynamics have long shaped Muslims’ political identities. There’s a “tendency to regard issues that impact black people—and by extension, black Muslims—as not thoroughly Islamic,” said Evans. “If we’re talking about a social issue in Palestine or Chechnya or Kashmir or Saudi Arabia or anywhere else, those things can properly be engaged as ‘Islamic issues.’ [If] we’re talk about economic injustice, or gentrification, or ex-offender re-entry, or recidivism, those things aren’t really regarded as ‘legitimately Islamic.’ It’s like, ‘Why would a Muslim of conscience be talking about that stuff?’”…Read the rest here...

 

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Rep Steve King Blasted for Racism

Interesting discussion kicked off about Rep Steve King’s brown babies comment…

 

 

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Ronald Reagan’s Black Granddaughter

A bit of an untold story here, of Ronald Reagan’s daughter adopting a child from Uganda.

The Fascinating Tale of Ronald Reagan’s Ugandan Granddaughter

Ronald Reagan’s First Wife, Jane Wyman, and her granddaughter, Rita at Maureen Reagan’s Funeral

Maureen Reagan and her husband adopted a little girl from Uganda. How they got to America provides a lesson that Congress—and the president—should heed.

Sometimes a story grabs hold of you and won’t let go. President Reagan’s valiant fight against Alzheimer’s disease is in that category for me. I wasn’t a fan of Reagan’s policies, but there was something about the man, and the way he played the role of a lifetime. A visitor to his Century City office after he left the White House told the story of reminding Reagan that he was once President, and he asked, “How’d I do?”

Newsweek did a cover story on “the long goodbye” in the fall of 1995 when Reagan was still in the earlier stages of the disease that would take his life a decade later, in 2004. During the course of my reporting the story, Mrs. Reagan told me that one of the things that gave her husband pleasure was teaching the newest addition to the family how to swim in the heated pool at their Bel-Air home.

“Rita is a real ‘water baby,’ thanks to our pool and my husband,” Mrs. Reagan wrote in a written response to questions, describing then 10-year-old Rita Mirembe Revell, the child that her stepdaughter, Maureen Reagan, and her husband Dennis Revell, had adopted from Uganda. Newsweek asked for photos. We didn’t get them, but I always wondered what happened to Rita.

The last public sighting of her was at her mother’s funeral in 2001. Rita was 16; her mother was 60 when she died after a five-year battle with melanoma that had spread to her brain. Maureen Reagan was Reagan’s daughter with his first wife, the actress Jane Wyman. At her mother’s funeral, Rita was seen holding tight onto Wyman, who looked frail and distraught.

That’s more than 15 years ago, and Maureen’s siblings from Reagan’s second marriage to Nancy, Patti Davis and Ron Reagan, who knew Rita as a child, have not seen her since Maureen’s funeral, and don’t know where she is or what she’s doing. Ron Reagan, who was traveling in Europe when I reached out to him, responded in an email that “my late wife, Doria, and I knew her as a vivacious child when she first came to the U.S., but over the years–difficult years, many of them, for Rita, or so I heard secondhand –we lost track.”

He points out that when she lost her mother, Rita was a teenager, “a phase that is confusing and painful for many young people, even under the best of circumstances,” and that Rita drifted away. She did not attend Mrs. Reagan’s funeral last year, and her adoptive father, Dennis Revell, Maureen’s husband, did not include her name in a statement he released upon Mrs. Reagan’s death, in which he recalled spending many Christmases with his mother-in-law.

“That said, she may be thriving,” Ron Reagan wrote about Rita. “She was always bright and personable. There is no guarantee, however, that her story is positive or edifying.”

Rita is on Facebook with the surname Reagan and in her profile photo and the few pictures she has posted looks every bit as vibrant as the child Ron Reagan remembers. Her page is not fully public, and she did not respond to a message that I left explaining my interest in finding her. Dennis Revell, who heads a public-relations firm in Sacramento, responded to my email saying neither he nor Rita wish to cooperate in any story about immigration.

In a recent post on Facebook, she tells friends wondering what she’s up to, “I have been hiding and being sanctified.”

She’s certainly entitled to her privacy, and perhaps in due time she will tell her story. In these times of division and partisanship, the story of how President Reagan’s Ugandan grandchild became a permanent resident of the United States is worth telling, and worth hearing. It shows people of goodwill pulling together and overcoming barriers within a legal system that those in power can tweak to do the right thing when there is a common goal.

It begins with Maureen and her husband and their support of the Daughters of Charity orphanages in Uganda. They first met Rita when she was three years old. When Dennis made a return visit, this child who had been abandoned in Kampala, the capital of Uganda, and whose actual date of birth was unknown, clung to him and wouldn’t stop crying after he left.

“And I said, ‘Dennis, I think she’s adopted you. What do you think about that? And he says, “Fine with me.’ It took us five years, but we got her,” Maureen told ABC’s Barbara Walters in 2001, when what’s known as a “private bill” in Congress recognized Rita as the couple’s “immediate relative child.”

Uganda had very restrictive adoption laws, and the Revells initially gained custody as Rita’s legal guardians. They brought her home to California on a student visa. She was eight years old and attended a private parochial school in Sacramento.

By the time it was established under Ugandan law that Rita was an orphan, and eligible for adoption by the only parents she knew, Maureen was battling cancer and too ill to make the trip to Uganda to finalize the adoption.

That’s when Congress went to work. Utah Republican Orrin Hatch sponsored the private bill in the Senate to grant Rita permanent residence in the United States as did Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee in the House. Republican James Sensenbrenner chaired the House Judiciary committee then, as he does today, and Congresswoman Lee, a member of the committee then as now, entered into the record a statement about the facts of the case and, noting Maureen Reagan’s grave illness, and her inability to travel, that the only way to “assure that Rita remains a part of their family in the United States is through this private bill.”

The bill passed by unanimous consent in the House and Senate, where Hatch chaired the Judiciary Committee, and President George W. Bush signed it into law on July 19, 2001. “Rita is so excited because, like so many adopted children, her one wish was to have a family… Now, she not only has a family, she has a whole country. But also, she knows this news is the best medicine her mother could have received right now,” said Revell. Maureen Reagan passed away just weeks later on August 8, 2001.

From the time they first met Rita in the orphanage, the Revells had provided support for her, and they did everything they were supposed to in accordance with the legal systems in both countries, the United States and Uganda, first gaining legal guardianship, then a student visa, and finally, through the intervention of Congress, permanent residency for Rita.

In addition to having a compelling case, as the daughter of a president, Maureen Reagan had the clout and the connections to get legislative relief. Private immigration bills sponsored by lawmakers are not as common as they once were, and in the toxic political environment around immigration issues today, they hearken back to an earlier, less contentious time.

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2017 in General, The Post-Racial Life

 

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The Deep-State Fantasy

The existence of the “Deep State” is a white-wing fantasy formulated by folks advancing absurd, typically fascist ideas in need of an enemy. It typically is advanced by folks who never worked in any intelligence agency, either Civilian or Military – basically because they didn’t have the mental stability to pass the background checks. Ergo, while the NRA and Reprobates are stupid enough to give crazy people guns…At least so far, our government isn’t turning over the keys to the nuclear arsenal to the whack-jobs – even if the Useful Fools voted in one.

What we have in this country is a group of intelligence services each assigned their area of responsibility who often are fractious and refuse to turn over intelligence to each other. George W. Bush found that out the hard way on 911 and strove mightily to fix a broken system where the FBI didn’t talk to the CIA, and the CIA didn’t talk to the NSA. While it is better than it used to be, there is still some healthy inter-agency rivalry, The fact that all 17 Intelligence agencies (about a third of those are private, not government) came up with the same conclusion on Putin’s Bitch being a traitor is stunning to anyone who understands how these organizations actually work. Basically it means that 17 different organizations, with entirely different methods, and scopes of operation limited to inside, or outside the US – independently came to the same conclusion.

Despite the pablum Americans are fed each night on the Boob-Tube, the people who work for these agencies are neither endowed with superhuman abilities, aren’t arch-villains, and don’t go around breaking the law. Two of those agencies do have technology which would boggle your mind, DARPA also develops bleeding edge technology typically used by the Military, However much of the stuff you see on TV doesn’t exist other than in some technologist’s wet dream, of just doesn’t work that way.And while there are certainly some really bad guys out there. Bad guy access to bleeding edge technology is pretty limited.

So…There is no “Deep State”.

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The Deep State Is a Figment of Steve Bannon’s Imagination

Here’s the real truth about America’s national security bureaucrats.

Here’s a handy rule for assessing the credibility of what you’re reading about national security in the Trump era: If somebody uses the term “Deep State,” you can be pretty sure they have no idea what they’re talking about.

The phrase’s appeal is undeniable. The notion of a shadowy network pulling the strings in Washington is an attractive one to an embattled White House and its political opponents, shorthand-employing commentators and conspiracy theorists alike. But uncritical use of this canard is lazy at best and counterproductive at worst. The term, which political scientists invented to refer to the networks of generals and spymasters that rule many authoritarian states around the world, has migrated from leftist critics of U.S. foreign policy to the alt-right advisers running the White House. As a card-carrying former member of America’s vast national security bureaucracy, I find it offensive. But I also find it offensive as an analyst, because it’s a deeply misleading way to understand how the U.S. government really works.

So what is—or isn’t—the Deep State?

Let’s start with standard insinuations of the phrase. There are more than 2 million civilian executive branch employees (not counting the U.S. military or portions of the intelligence community, which does not fully report employment numbers). At least half of that number work in an agency related to national security, broadly defined. When combined with the million-plus uniformed military and support system of contractors, this is an unwieldy group. A mix of hard-working patriots, clock-punchers, technocrats, veterans and scammers, these folks swear the same oath to defend the Constitution.

Hollywood bears much of the blame in portraying this group as some combination of Rambo, the All-Seeing Eye of Mordor and the cast of Homeland—an omniscient guerilla force unaccountable to any authority. Reality is less made for the big screen; if, say, “Zero Dark Thirty” had been true to life, it likely would have been a single shot of 100 hours of lawyers’ meetings. The national security bureaucracy does wield awe-inspiring capabilities that could be disastrous if abused; months sitting through the Obama administration’s surveillance policy review made that clear. But while civil servants and military personnel do pledge to defend the Constitution, it is not only the goodness of their hearts but a complex web of legal, congressional, bureaucratic and political oversight that guards against such risks. These checks are met with both grumbles and keen awareness of how they set the U.S. rule of law apart from, say, Russia. These systems are not foolproof, and could undoubtedly be improved. The flaws of the administrative state—ranging from redundancy and waste to self-interested bloat to inability to innovate to scandalous incidents of corruption—have been well documented, its day-to-day successes far less so. But find me an alternative to the national security bureaucracy, or find me a functioning state without one.

To Steve Bannon and his colleagues in the White House, the Deep State is an adversary to be destroyed. In recent remarks, the president’s chief strategist called for the “deconstruction of the administrative state.” According to the Washington Post, he’s been whispering in President Trump’s ear about the Deep State’s alleged campaign to ruin him. And, truth be told, charged with leaking for its own purposes, thwarting President Trump’s policy priorities and ousting his appointees, this “Deep State” sure looks quite guilty in the context of a chaotic first six weeks in office.

But it’s far easier to blame shadowy bureaucrats than to take responsibility for your own failures. The president’s executive order on terrorism didn’t fail because the “Deep State” sabotaged it; it failed because an insular White House did not seek or heed its advice. Leaks did not bring down former national security adviser Mike Flynn; his deception of Vice President Mike Pence did. Though it is impossible to know, much of the exposure of White House infighting that so angers Trump seems far more likely to be coming from his senior aides than from low-level bureaucrats.

None of which is to say that Bannon’s view of the world is completely baseless. Bureaucracies have institutional interests they are loath to let go of, and are plagued by an inertia resistant to disruption. This is common to all large organizations, not a flaw unique to the U.S. system of government. But Trump has a tool to manage this dynamic that he has inexplicably chosen not to wield: placement of around 4,000 political appointees throughout the bureaucracy. Inserting his personal emissaries throughout the “Deep State” would give him far more political control over the civil servants he perceives to be rebelling, and at the same time give his team better access to their expertise. But not a single one has been confirmed below Cabinet level.

And here’s where Bannon’s blame game breaks down: Past presidents have learned there are limits to what a pen and a phone (or a tweet) can implement without calling on the resources of the administrative state. This is not a threat but a fact. Their oath is to the Constitution, not the president, but they are effectively there to make him look good. And he has no alternative: There is no substitute state to defeat ISIS, renegotiate trade deals, build walls, round up illegal immigrants or catch terrorists if Trump works to dismantle the national security bureaucracy. Making the “Deep State” an enemy will cripple his administration.

To many in the media, the “Deep State” has become a convenient label for any quasi-official entity or view that is not enabling the Trump agenda. The former president, Congress, the judiciary, the grass roots community, unions, the Blob, Black Lives Matter and the “mainstream media” have all been lumped with the national security bureaucracy to help explain the unexplainable first weeks of this administration. “Evidence” of such is usually offered in the form of political alignment of the bureaucracy with these groups, leaks of policy deliberations at inconvenient moments, or the lack of success of the president’s desired policy outcomes.

Many assume that civil servants are liberal on various domestic political issues. The reality is more complex, particularly in the national security field, and as veterans make up an increasing proportion of the federal workforce. Various polls proclaimed federal workers would resign if Trump won the election in numbers ranging from 14 percent to nearly 30 percent. Despite some very public anecdotes, the anticipated wave of federal departures has not yet occurred.

Those employees who remain are frequently accused of “thwarting” President Trump’s agenda. This is a serious accusation, but one that hasn’t manifested evidence or shown any distinction from bureaucratic shirking problems that have plagued every prior administration (Obama’s travails with the Pentagon come to mind). Government sausage-making is no silent coup. Presidents do not rule by a Picard-like “make it so,” and agencies have an obligation to present policy advice based on the best facts available. When the Department of Homeland Security’s intelligence unit failed to find that the countries implicated in the president’s refugee executive order present a terror threat, the analysts were just doing their jobs—not defying the president. When government lawyers shared legal concerns about the so-called travel ban, they were just offering their best advice. To Trump, perhaps the end result feels the same: He is not getting all he wants and the bureaucracy is telling him no. But this happens to all presidents. The difference with Trump is that he can’t handle the truth.

But those leaks! Here’s the thing about leaks: They are anonymous, and no one issues a friendly survey after a leak querying why the leaker did it. So maybe there is a weekly bowling party where the Deep State gathers to plan its agenda-thwarting leaks. Or maybe the Trump White House is doing what the Trump campaign did with regularity: leaking. Or maybe the leaks would dry up if any sort of formal policy process were launched at the National Security Council and there were other means to air policy concerns. Or maybe leaks are nothing new, having been rounding condemned and unprecedentedly prosecuted in the prior administration, and we just got around to calling it the Deep State. You and I have no idea, and that is the point.

For some, discussions about the Deep State can be a form of wish-casting. Would the military disobey unwise orders from President Trump? Will Defense Secretary James Mattis “save” us from extreme actions in foreign policy? More likely, each will stay in their lane and there will be no scenario in which the system of checks and balances has broken down so badly that they are compelled to initiate a major crisis with the president. For there are checks and balances we should want to be empowered, rather than turn to conspiracy: the judiciary, the media, a healthy political advocacy culture, Congress, the policy and legal advice of institutions, the statutory roles the military and intelligence communities, voters and more. These roles, bound up in our Constitution, do not an activist Deep State make, nor should anyone want them to…

So the next time you hear someone using the term “Deep State,” send them a copy of this article. Ask them to stop using it. Tell them the term betrays their ignorance, and obscures and misleads far more than it illuminates. And if that doesn’t work, well, we Deep Staters will take matters into our own hands.

….More…

 

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Another Yellowback Donkey Fail…DNC Chair Tom Perez

It is what it is, Perez is certainly a qualified person. For a Party rhough, which needs to make a fundamental change faced with rising fascism…

This isn’t good news.

NC Voters Evict Tea Party Bigot School Board

‘Incredibly Disappointing’: Democrats Choose Tom Perez to Head Party

DNC ‘chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base’

Democrats on Saturday chose Tom Perez to lead the party, sparking criticism from progressive organizations who say picking the former labor secretary over the other front-runner, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), was a missed opportunity for the party.

Perez’s win was secured in a second round of voting by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) gathered in Atlanta, getting 235 votes to Ellison’s 200.

It marks the end of a race many observers saw as a choice between the establishment and the progressive wing of the party. Ellison had the backing of lawmakers like Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and groups including National Nurses United and the Communications Workers of America; Perez was backed by “many from former President Obama’s political orbit,” as ABC News writes, and “is viewed—with good reason—as a reliable functionary and trustworthy loyalist by those who have controlled the party and run it into the ground,” journalist Glenn Greenwald wrote this week.

Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, which supported Ellison, said the outcome showed “[t]he DNC is out of touch with the American public and their needs. Democratic leaders were at a crossroads and today they chose to continue the failed Clinton strategy of prioritizing wealthy donors over the activist base.”

“This incredibly disappointing result is another missed opportunity for a Democratic Party desperately trying to regain relevance and proves, once again, how out of touch party insiders are with the grassroots movement currently in the streets, on the phone, and at town halls nationwide,” added Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America.

“Nonetheless, the Resistance will persist in showing progressive leaders how to unrelentingly take on [President Donald] Trump, with or without the leadership of the Democratic National Committee,” Dean said.

Ellison, whom Perez chose as deputy, said following the results, “We don’t have the luxury folks to walk out of this room divided.” He added in a statement: “We must be united—because we live in times when the judiciary is under attack, when the press is under attack, and hate groups are desecreating Jewish cemetaries and defacing mosques.”

Ahead of the vote for chair, the DNC’s meeting got off to what one political observer described as a “very, very bad start.” The Huffington Post reports:

Democratic National Committee members on Saturday voted down a resolution that would have reinstated former President Barack Obama’s ban on corporate political action committee donations to the party.

Resolution 33, introduced by DNC Vice Chair Christine Pelosi, would also have forbidden “registered, federal corporate lobbyists” from serving as “DNC chair-appointed, at-large members.”

A majority of the 442 eligible DNC members rejected the resolution after roughly a dozen members rose to speak for and against it.

Voting down that resolution coupled with choosing Perez makes it “[p]retty clear where the official party organ stands on the divide,” tweeted Huffington Post reporter Zach Carter.

 
 

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Miller Lite – “Tap the Future”​ Competition – Daymon John, No Equity Angel Investment

Daymond gives some good advice here…

Miller Lite’s “Tap the Future” Contest is underway accepting applications through April 14th. The Contest participants (rules in link above) get $20,000 for being selected in the first round, and can get $100,000 if their idea is selected as an overall winner. As Daymon John points out above, the huge advantage in participation in the competition, is the money does not require giving up equity in the winning companies, giving the a massive leg up should their business move to the point of seeking secondary of tertiary investment. If you can get to the product prototype stage (or are already there) with $100,000, this is far better financially than pursuing “Angel” investors who will want 30-50% ownership. One of the most critical factors to success of a startup is keeping the investor/ownership group as small as possible. Winning this could mean the entrepreneur retaining majority ownership through at least the Venture Capital round.

Go for it!

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2017 in General, The Post-Racial Life

 

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