No. 232 – Monday Reads

A Prime Minister Tries to Storm-Proof Her Island’s Finances – “We wanted to come up with something that was conducive to bolstering resilience to rising climatic risks,” Espinosa says. “Adverse-weather clauses provide vulnerable sovereign debtors with a degree of flexibility by creating built-in buffers that can help them absorb some of the financial impact.”

Stakeholder capitalism is urgently needed – and the COVID-19 crisis shows us why – “What’s interesting about this crisis is it’s really revealed so many problems that we have in our current way of doing capitalism. There’s different ways to do capitalism.”

Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index: Rich sheltered, poor shafted amid virus – “47% of respondents designated as coming from the upper socioeconomic status and 45% of those from the upper-middle status said their emotional well-being declined. That was the case for just 34% of the lower and lower-middle groups and 36% of the middle group.”

Post Corona: Higher Ed “SARS was huge for e-commerce in Asia, and it helped Alibaba break out into the consumer space. COVID-19 could be to education in the United States what SARS was to e-commerce in Asia.”

Early Data Shows African Americans Have Contracted and Died of Coronavirus at an Alarming Rate – “When COVID-19 passes and we see the losses … it will be deeply tied to the story of post-World War II policies that left communities marginalized,” Sprague said. “Its impact is going to be tied to our history and legacy of racial inequities. It’s going to be tied to the fact that we live in two very different worlds.”

No. 231 – On Resilience

It’s not fear that grips him. Only a heightened sense of things.

Narrator from 300

In the scene embedded above, a young Leonidas is out surviving in the wilderness as part of his training to be a Spartan soldier. The scene above tells the story of him crossing paths with a wolf looking for a meal. In the scene, we see the boy turn away from the wolf and walk towards a small crevice in a mountain. The wolf gives chase and gets stuck as the boy dives backwards. Then the narrator says the above quote.

That scene has come to mind a good bit as I’ve considered how I try to continue making progress towards my goals in a world upended by this virus. Early in the days of social distancing in the US, I was really energized about locking in and getting a ton done with the extra hours of not having a commute to deal with. Then, I wondered why my brain felt like it was on a treadmill, reminding me that I had slipped a bit in using my tools to maintain my mental health. Today, I’m doing my best to take steady steps towards my goals and exercising the resilience I’ve built over the years going through tough times.

Hard times never last, tough people they do.

Ace Hood

Parallel Experience

While I love this quote, it’s been challenging to watch is the parallel experience black folks are going through in the U.S. On one hand, the creativity we’re seeing from the musicians among us has been magical. DJ DNice kicked the energy off with his Homeschool sessions, and Timbaland and Swizz Beatz have carried the energy forward with the battles they’re organizing. I already love dancing by myself, and they’ve taken my solo dancing to another level.

At the same time, black folks are most likely getting hit harder by COVID-19 than other ethnic groups. New York, New Orleans, Detroit and more hot spots for the virus in the US have large black populations. It’s hard to see 40% of the deaths in Michigan coming from the black community when we only make up 14% of that state’s population.

Heightened Awareness

My ears perked up last week when I heard Chamath Palihapitiya tell Kara Swisher that he sees something similar to the Patriot Act happening as we emerge from this pandemic. People will most likely want to know that the people around them are healthy and may be willing to give up more of their information in order to know who around them is healthy.

Telecom operators in South Africa are already working with the government to help track the movements of people who have tested positive for coronavirus and identifying the people with whom they come into contact with. Here in the US, there are calls for immunity certifications to identify people who could go back to work, provide healthcare, and more.

Should Chamath prove to be right and immunity certifications become a thing, my mind goes back to black folks disproportionally dying from coronavirus in Michigan. We’ve already seen the impact of label “Chinese virus.” How do we ensure black folks aren’t labeled as somehow deficient as opposed to existing in a system that has made it quite difficult to remain healthy? A lot of black folks made it through tough times over the more than 400 years we’ve been in the U.S. Yet, a lot of black folks didn’t.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I don’t know right now, but I’ve been encouraged by the many virtual gatherings of black folks to put our heads together in efforts to figure out how we support each other, exercising resilience. I’m grateful to get to support friends’ and acquaintances’ businesses, particularly the ones who are setting aside some of the revenue to support efforts to keep folks fed and healthy, investing in resilience. As I get a sense of the next right thing to do, I will do that.

No. 230 – Saturday Audio

Source: Ibrahim Mahama

Here are the five tracks that stood out to me from this week’s new album releases:

I really enjoyed this interview with Ibrahim Mahama. His art makes you pay attention and I appreciated his perspective on the development of African countries.

No. 229 – Friday Reads

Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Report

Source: Google

Banks Have Too Much Money Now – “But ideally what you want is for banks to have lots of capital in bad times, and then relax those requirements—let them lever up and buy stuff and take deposits and lend and trade Treasuries and generally support the financial system and the economy—when the crisis comes.”

How the South African government will track you if you have the coronavirus – ““The National Department of Health shall develop and maintain a national database to enable the tracing of persons who are known or reasonably suspected to have come into contact with any person known or reasonably suspected to have contracted COVID-19,””

SoftBank scraps $3 billion deal to buy WeWork stock from Adam Neumann and other shareholders – “In the deal, the Japanese conglomerate would have taken a stake of almost 80% in the company and buy $3 billion in shares from investors as well as current and former employees. Neumann, ousted in the deal, was set to sell up to $970 million in shares.”

Ventilator Tycoon Adds $3.7 Billion to Wealth on Demand Rush – “The Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates that 960,000 patients would need ventilator support in the U.S., but the nation only has about 200,000 such machines.”

Google uses location data to show which places are complying with stay-at-home orders — and which aren’t – “The company considered requests from public health officials to make more data available for contact tracing — using an individual’s location to identify other people who may have been around them during the time they were infectious.”

No. 228 – Thursday Reads

Tackling COVID-19 in Africa – “If leaders across sectors translate their already proven resolve into more targeted, collaborative action in the coming weeks, we believe they can make significant progress in mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic—and safeguarding economies and livelihoods.”

What If D.C.’s Black-Owned Restaurants Can’t Recover From the Effects of COVID-19? – ““black women have been creating equitable and sustainable businesses since the birth of the nation…somewhere along the way we have dimmed our collective power to be seen in spaces that don’t matter.”” 

What Dr Doom told me about the coming recession – “People initially said ‘Is this going to be a V-shaped recovery or is it going to be a U with a gradual recovery or is it going to be an L with stagnation or a W, a double dip?’ It is not a V. It is not a U. It is not an L. It is not a W. It is an I. A straight line down. Output is down. Consumption is down. Capex is down. Residential investment is down. Exports are down. Imports are down.”

‘A perfect storm for first time managers,’ say VCs with their own shops – “You need to find people who are going to back you because they think this is a good idea and who aren’t quite so orthodox in terms of what they want to see in terms partner composition and all that.”

Telehealth Startup Launches Platform to Treat Coronavirus Patients Remotely – – “The beauty of 4D is that long after the pandemic ends, we are a viable long-term solution for managing patients at home.”

What if coronavirus is an opportunity for African economies? – “The Burkinabé historian Joseph Ki-Zerbo said: “You shouldn’t sleep on other people’s mats, as it’s like sleeping on the ground.””

Which Investor Cohorts Pulled Back The Most In 2008 – “However, venture firms are well situated to take advantage of a different market; with funds to invest, less competition for deals, a clearing of the decks as competitors fail and lower valuations.”

Start-Ups Are Pummeled in the ‘Great Unwinding’ – “In many ways it’s energizing, but it’s also quite chaotic,” said Francis Davidson, chief executive of Sonder, which raised $345 million in funding and was valued at $1.1 billion. He said his investors had advised him to cut fast and deep to allow employees to hit the job market before things got worse and to avoid multiple rounds of layoffs.

Jim Clyburn changed everything for Joe Biden’s campaign. He’s been a political force for a long time. (paywall) – “Putting it another way, Clyburn quotes his friend Andrew Young, the former ambassador and civil rights leader, who “used to say all the time that black folks have the best antenna.””

‘He’s Going to Do Whatever He Wants’ – Svrcek went even further, saying Falwell misled her “to believe that the school was … abandoning plans to invite students back into residence halls following spring break.

No. 227 – Wednesday Reads

So much for April Fool’s Day.

Telemedicine is essential amid the covid-19 crisis and after it – “What about the features of a visit to a doctor that seemingly can’t be done at a distance, such as the physical exam? Today’s stethoscope is gradually being replaced—like everything else—by the smartphone.”

FaintFlex Vol. 19 – Why There’s No Black Barstool – “After reflecting on this for months, my main observation comes down to a difference in the core of their content & commentary styles – sketches vs. unscripted.”

Rihanna Talks New Music, Fenty Skincare & Her Plans To Have “3 Or 4 Kids” – “The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she says. “So I identify – and that’s why I really relate and empathise with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”

We don’t work, we don’t eat’: Informal workers face stark choices as Africa’s largest megacity shuts down – “I cannot afford to stay at home and not feed my children. I know it is risky to be out here, but if I don’t come out to look for what to feed my family, we will die of hunger faster than being killed by the virus.”

Microsoft ends investments in facial recognition startups – “AnyVision has been facing backlash after reports detailed how it has been using facial recognition to surveil Palestinians around the West Bank.”

No. 226 – Tuesday Reads

How parking a wireless school bus can help all students get back to school – “South Carolina is planning to deploy 3,000 buses connected to the internet through a contract with Charter Communications so that students can receive home instruction.”

Civil rights leaders oppose swift move off natural gas – “Whenever someone disagrees with what you say, they think, ‘Oh, you must be getting paid,'” Morial said. “It’s condescending, patronizing and racist. I hope you print it. I want them to see it. Because that’s the way we feel.”

Nothing Matters Anymore (Except What Actually Does) – “There’s so much that doesn’t matter; so much I did just two months ago seems ludicrous now. (Brunch every Sunday? Really?) So many silly habits and desires and feuds and consumptions and relationships that aren’t just bandwidth-consuming; they’re bandwidth-stealing, snatching time and energy away from the people and things that matter.”

How Eliud Kipchoge Broke Running’s Mythic Barrier – “We don’t run and compete, but we have competing minds.”

EXAMINING THE RETURNS: The Financial Returns of Diverse Private Equity Firms (click last link in press release for full report) – “Likewise, despite being disproportionately represented in the top quartile of private equity fund performance, the assets in diverse private equity funds tell us that women- and diverse-owned PE firms are still less likely to be “hired” than non-diverse firms.”

Source: National Association of Investment Companies