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I’m a Black American. I Had to Get Out.

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LAMBEAU, Trinidad and Tobago — I watched the video of George Floyd taking his last breaths under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer while scrolling through Facebook early one morning here. The sound of crashing waves and my children’s giggles created the soundtrack for the devastating images.

My mother came out onto our sunny front patio, a cup of coffee in one hand and phone in the other. She also had news to share.

“They turned the unit I worked on into a Covid unit,” she blurted out. Everyone at her old hospital, she said, was complaining there wasn’t enough personal protective equipment.

If she hadn’t moved from New Jersey to join me here, just months before the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States, she would have been working as a nurse on the front lines of a war with a disease that has disproportionately claimed the lives of people of color and health care workers like her.

Our decision to leave the United States has spared us from so much suffering and danger.

“Mom,” I said, “we are refugees.”

In 2013, when George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second degree murder in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin — a black child gunned down in his own neighborhood, branded a thug in a hoodie — I knew I had to leave America.

The racism that had become all too familiar to me as a black woman was too much to bear. I packed my things, made sure to secure a few online writing gigs and moved in with my sister in Maraval, on the island of Trinidad. She’d moved from the States a few months earlier, after struggling to find work or afford a place of her own there, and secured a job with a government ministry and a two-bedroom apartment. I settled easily.

Still, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained momentum over the next few years, I prayed from afar that America would finally allow black people the fair treatment they’d long fought for. Instead, white Americans fired back with “All Lives Matter” and “Blue Lives Matter,” and critics branded the group as “anti-police,” with some going so far as to accuse social justice advocates of inciting a “race war.”

I concluded America would never stop battling against its black citizenry.

It’s not that I didn’t have good experiences in the United States. Memories of my American childhood were once bright and vivid, like a flower-filled landscape painted in watercolor. Back in the 1990s, when I was 4, my mother moved to America from Trinidad and Tobago as a single parent with my two siblings and me. The first New Jersey neighborhood I called home was a bustling, diverse town just outside of New York City. The area was mostly Hispanic, but it also had both white and black residents. My family blended right in.

In school, I learned to pledge allegiance to the American flag.

“With liberty and justice for all,” I proudly recited every morning.

I was an honor-roll student who felt adored and supported by my teachers. I roamed the town with friends, stopping at the pizza parlor for a dollar slice, or the bodega for an empanada.

The brilliant American landscape painted in my childhood mind was ruined by anti-blackness as I grew older. The quest for security, stability and affordable housing left the biggest stains. Though my family loved that small New Jersey town, the steadily increasing cost of living forced us out.

We rented an apartment on the outskirts of a wealthy neighborhood in Orlando, Fla. For two years, I attended school there, taking honors classes with mostly white students, and playing tennis and soccer on well-funded, mostly white sports teams.

By then, at only 14 years old, I understood the code words of America’s school system. It was simple: “Bad” schools were majority black, “good” schools were majority white. Eventually, I learned that rule applied to almost everything in America.

My time in the “good” school was short. My family was once again priced out when our rental was turned into expensive condos.

By the time I was in college, my mother, tired of moving, purchased one of the few homes she could afford in New Jersey. That was her way of supporting my dream to study in New York City.

My memories of our new neighborhood are nightmarish, in ways that I now understand are the result of systemic racism: Police officers creeping through the night to raid the home next door. Poverty. Streets filled with dilapidated businesses and boarded-up foreclosed houses. The only colors that penetrate those dark memories are the blue and red lights of police vehicles parked on every other street corner, swirling all night long.

My mind had become monochromatic and plagued by a single question: Why was it so hard to have a good life as a black person in America?

I scanned history books for answers, only to find black pain, death and oppression. Slavery, black codes, lynching, Jim Crow, school segregation, redlining, drug wars, mass incarceration and gentrification. Assassinations, exiles, unending persecution. Black successes met with a storm of violence, like the surge of white supremacist hate after Reconstruction and even the election of Barack Obama.

The unfair banking practices that prevented black homeownership in the suburbs and the gentrification that reclaimed black cities for white people. Images of lifeless black bodies, casualties of war: black men and women hanging from trees; Emmett Till’s battered face; Martin Luther King lying in a pool of blood, his face half-covered by a white cloth; Malcolm X, mouth agape, dead on a stretcher.

America denies so many black people basic security, freedom and human dignity.

I had to run.

The privilege of dual citizenship afforded me sanctuary in Trinidad and Tobago. As I settled here, my life slowly became colorful and vibrant again. I paraded through the streets for Carnival in blue, teal and purple beads and feathers, surrounded by faces of every color — descendants of enslaved people from Africa, indentured servants from India, and the Amerindians who were here when Europeans arrived. I strolled through black neighborhoods with my two children in tow, with no concerns about whether we stood out as outsiders. I sat on my patio with my mother and sipped coffee, finally at peace.

And I gave myself space to mend my broken version of blackness.

But images on the news won’t let me forget why I fled: Michael Brown’s body rotting on the pavement. Sandra Bland’s hollow-faced mug shot captured before her death in police custody. Eric Garner slammed to the ground and put in a chokehold by a police officer over selling cigarettes.

By the time I caught wind of the pandemic on its way to the shores of America, I knew it spelled disaster for black Americans. I braced myself for more loss of life, more pain, and the sickening feeling of powerlessness. I felt consumed by guilt, watching from a place of relative safety.

When protests erupted over the death of George Floyd, I used social media to urge people of color back in the States to stay home instead of risking abuse and arrest or becoming infected with the virus and putting themselves at the mercy of a medical system that might disregard their suffering. One of my friends went anyway. I didn’t hear from him and was worried for days as I saw countless videos of police officers attacking protesters.

The United Nations defines refugees as people who flee their homes because of war, persecution or violence. My mother and I may not meet the formal criteria, but as I observe a country engulfed in disease, flames and justified rage, I tremble at the thought of ever returning.

I admire the strength of black people who remain in America and continue to endure. I hope and pray that one day they, too, will find freedom.

Tiffanie Drayton (@draytontiffanie) is working on a book about fleeing American racism.

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Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/12/opinion/sunday/black-america-racism-refugee.html

Crunchbase

The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Crunchbase

Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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Coinpedia

GenTech Proudly Secures Deal with TruLife Distribution to Drive Growth in SINFIT Digital Sales

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Denver, CO, October 21, 2020 – OTC PR WIRE – GenTech Holdings, Inc. (OTC PINK: GTEH) (“GenTech” or the “Company”), an emerging leader in the high-end Premium Coffee (www.secretjavas.com), Hemp Wellness (www.hakunasupply.com) and Functional Foods (www.SINFITnutrition.com) marketplaces, along with its SINFIT Nutrition brand (“SINFIT”), is excited to announce that the Company has signed a new marketing, sales, and distribution agreement (the “Agreement”) with TruLife Distribution (“TruLife”) (TruLifeDist.com), a leader in marketing, distribution, compliance, e-commerce, and advisory services in the Functional Foods marketplace. The main focus of the new Agreement will be to accelerate the growth of e-commerce sales of SINFIT products, particularly over the Amazon.com platform.

TruLife provides direct access to sales on Amazon, Walmart, Rakuten, Wish, TopHatter, and other top e-commerce platforms, allowing clients to instantly list, ship, and sell products through any major platform, with an experienced team of experts and a proven track record of success in brand placement and digital sales strategies.

“We have already demonstrated a significant & expansive growth curve since taking control of the SINFIT brand in June,” commented Harold Vaca, VP Domestic Sales of SINFIT. “But the vast majority of that growth has been driven by large purchase orders from major distribution partners, both domestic and international. We are also committed to aggressively pursuing end-market consumer direct purchases through our e-commerce footprint, which will provide additional growth and diversify our cash flow ecosystem, making our overall strategy less dependent upon any one source of demand, while driving further growth in total sales.”

Management notes that e-commerce sales represent a sizeable portion of overall retail sales growth worldwide, with more than $3.5 trillion in online sales accounting for over 14% of total pre-pandemic global retail sales. Since the onset of the global health crisis, that ratio has shifted decisively further in favor of e-commerce sales, which is not likely to entirely revert back upon the advent of a viable and widely accessible vaccine.

Vaca added, “We have seen an epic process of market penetration for e-commerce platforms this year as major online retailers have begun to reach a much wider base of consumers – people who haven’t ever shopped much online, but have been forced to during recent months out of personal health concerns. Many of them will almost certainly continue to make use of e-commerce now that they have tried it out, at least to some extent, making e-commerce an essential sales channel for SINFIT products. TruLife has the network, team, experience, and resources to dramatically augment our e-commerce performance.”

SINFIT branded products registered over $2.2 million in global sales in 2019, and are now approved for sale and available for purchase on the Walmart.com and Amazon.com e-commerce platforms as well as in over 2,500 GNC locations in North America and over 10,000 global physical and e-commerce stores across more than 10 countries around the world.

SINFIT products as well-positioned relative to peers and to the long-term macro tailwind defining the functional foods market, which saw sales top $267 billion in February of this year on a global basis, with sales in the US reaching $63 billion, according to Euromonitor 2020. This trend is part of a larger supportive momentum in the general category, with global sales of organic food and drink topping $105 billion in 2018 (Ecovia 2019). U.S. organic food sales also reached $47.9 billion, up 5.9% in 2018 (OTA 2019). In 2019, 77% of U.S. adults used dietary supplements, an all-time high (CRN 2019). U.S. supplement sales are estimated to have reached $49.3 billion in 2019, up 6.2% (NBJ 2019).

About GenTech Holdings, Inc.:

GenTech Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded company under the symbol GTEH. The Company launched a high-end Coffee Subscription service in early 2020 called Secret Javas, owns a Functional Food company, SINFIT Nutrition and recently closed its acquisition on Products-Groups’ “Hakuna Supply”.

Forward-Looking Statements
This press release may contain forward-looking statements, including information about management’s view of GenTech, Inc.’s future expectations, plans and prospects. In particular, when used in the preceding discussion, the words “believes,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “anticipates,” or “may,” and similar conditional expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. Any statements made in this news release other than those of historical fact, about an action, event or development, are forward-looking statements. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors, which may cause the results of GenTech, its subsidiaries and concepts to be materially different than those expressed or implied in such statements. Unknown or unpredictable factors also could have material adverse effects on GenTech’s future results. The forward-looking statements included in this press release are made only as of the date hereof. GenTech cannot guarantee future results, levels of activity, performance or achievements. Accordingly, you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements. Finally, GenTech undertakes no obligation to update these statements after the date of this release, except as required by law, and also takes no obligation to update or correct information prepared by third parties that are not paid for by GenTech.

Corporate Contact:
invest@gentech.group

www.gentechholdings.com

Source: https://otcprwire.com/gentech-proudly-secures-deal-with-trulife-distribution-to-drive-growth-in-sinfit-digital-sales/

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