As a Black woman living in the United States, I have grown accustomed to the realization that those in power often make decisions that do not align with my best interests. Nonetheless, the recent ruling issued by a federal appeals court on Monday, June 3, halting a grant program specifically designed to support Black female entrepreneurs in Georgia, has taken this disheartening reality to an unprecedented level. The lawsuit, spearheaded by Edward Blum, the same individual responsible for the Supreme Court’s 2023 decision to overturn affirmative action in college admissions, alleges that this program constitutes “racial discrimination.” In stark contrast to this claim, the ruling represents a significant setback in the pursuit of an equitable economy, a goal that ultimately benefits all members of society.

This ruling casts a shadow over similar programs aimed at leveling the playing field for Black women, such as the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, which provides financial assistance to Black mothers living in extreme poverty in Jackson, Mississippi. Similar to the Fearless Fund, my organization utilizes private funds to address the persistent and systemic inequities within our economic system that disproportionately impact Black women. It is imperative that those of us committed to the principle of equality for all stand in opposition to this most recent assault on efforts to rectify historical injustices—a crucial first step in establishing a future where equal opportunities are accessible to all.

Black women in the United States have historically been marginalized, particularly in the economic sphere. The Fearless Fund was established to address one glaring consequence of this marginalization—lack of access to financial resources. According to recent data from The Fearless Fund, only 2.4% of venture capital raised by companies is secured by women of color, and the fund offered $20,000 grants to businesses owned by Black women.

The court’s decision has effectively suspended the grant program while the case proceeds through the legal system. This ruling serves as a stark reminder that despite our contributions and potential, Black women continue to be denied opportunities that are readily available to others, even when our accomplishments surpass those of our counterparts. The average salary among the top positions held by Black women is significantly lower than the average pay for top roles held by white men. This disparity results in a collective loss of $36 billion among Black women—an exclusion that extends beyond financial implications, reflecting the persistent undervaluing of Black women’s labor, ideas, and leadership.

Targeted initiatives such as those offered by the Fearless Fund and the Magnolia Mother’s Trust play a critical role in establishing balance within our economic structures. These initiatives acknowledge the unique challenges faced by marginalized groups and provide tailored support to overcome these barriers.

Moreover, many widespread programs have originated from initiatives focused on specific groups. In 2018, I began distributing cash to Black mothers living in poverty. By the time the pandemic struck in 2020, the positive outcomes associated with my program—which included improved outlooks regarding their futures and increased savings—provided evidence that contributed to the passage of the American Rescue Plan Act, which provided a guaranteed income to nearly every parent in America.

Blocking targeted programs under the guise of promoting fairness demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of true equality. Equality entails providing everyone with the same resources, regardless of their unique circumstances and context. A visual representation of inequality can be illustrated by two individuals, one short and one tall, standing behind a fence and attempting to watch a baseball game. Despite being given blocks of the same size, only the taller individual can see the game.

Equity alters this scenario by providing the shorter person with a taller block, enabling both individuals to have an equal view. Equity recognizes the differing needs and starting points of individuals and provides the resources necessary to achieve equal outcomes.

The court’s ruling not only halts the Fearless Fund’s critical grant program but also establishes a dangerous precedent that could jeopardize other equity-building initiatives across the country. The concerted effort to dismantle these programs aligns with attempts to eliminate guaranteed income programs in the United States, which have long been recognized as a means of promoting economic mobility. The convergence of these attacks could dissuade organizations from creating or continuing programs designed to support underrepresented groups, out of fear of legal repercussions. The broader impact could have a chilling effect on the movement toward a more inclusive economy.

Americans must acknowledge and address the systemic barriers that marginalized groups face, and supporting targeted programs is an essential component of this process. Black women represent one of the most entrepreneurial demographics in the United States, starting businesses at a higher rate than other groups despite encountering significant obstacles. We create jobs, drive innovation, and contribute to economic growth; fostering a more inclusive and robust economy. Investing in Black women is not only a moral imperative but a strategic economic decision that benefits all.