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Texas Football Players Call on University to Drop a Song Steeped in Racist History

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For generations, students at the University of Texas at Austin have stood up at sports games, raised their right hand to form the symbol of the storied Texas Longhorns and belted out “The Eyes of Texas,” a campus anthem.

Now, athletes including members of the university’s football team, which holds an exalted place in the campus culture, want the song gone.

Unbeknown to many students and alumni, the song can be traced back to Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general, and was performed at minstrel shows in the early 20th century.

On Friday, student-athletes referred to that troubled history when they called on the university to replace it with a song “without racists undertones.”

It was among a long list of requests made by the athletes, who said that if their demands were not met, they would no longer help the university recruit new players or participate in donor events.

“We aim to hold the athletic department and university to a higher standard by not only asking them to keep their promise of condemning racism on our campus but to go beyond this,” the athletes wrote in a letter posted on Twitter by several players, including Brennan Eagles, a Longhorns wide receiver.

The department and university, they wrote, must take action “to make Texas more comfortable and inclusive for the black athletes and the black community that has so fervently supported this program.”

The song has become another symbol linked to the Confederacy to face intense scrutiny and demands for removal amid the nationwide protests after the death of George Floyd on May 25. The football team marched together in Austin this month, linking arms and taking a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time a Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck as he cried out that he could not breathe.

Nearly one week after Mr. Floyd’s death, Chris Del Conte, the university athletics director, encouraged athletes and staff members in a statement to “speak up and become a part of the direct and difficult conversations that must take place in the days and weeks ahead.”

“It is our duty to stand up against racism,” he added.

Image

Credit…Eric Gay/Associated Press

On Friday, Mr. Del Conte posted the athletes’ letter on his personal Twitter account and indicated that he would talk to the students about their demands.

“I am always willing to have meaningful conversations regarding any concerns our student-athletes have,” Mr. Del Conte said. “We will do the same in this situation and look forward to having those discussions.”

J.B. Bird, a spokesman for the university, said in an email that university officials were aware of the student-athletes’ list of requests.

He said university officials “look forward to working with them and the UT community to create the best possible experience on our campus for Black students.”

The athletes called on the athletics department and the university to take a series of measures including creating a permanent black athletic history exhibit in its Hall of Fame; donating a portion of the athletics department’s annual earnings to black organizations, including Black Lives Matter; and renaming campus buildings, including one honoring a mathematics professor who refused to let black students in his class after the university desegregated.

Lee’s connection to the song came through William Prather, president of the University of Texas from 1899 to 1905. In the 1860s, Prather had been a student at Washington College, in Lexington, Va., while Lee was the school’s president.

Lee would always end remarks to Washington faculty members and students by saying “the eyes of the South are upon you,” according to Edmund T. Gordon, a professor in the University of Texas’ African and African diaspora studies department.

Those remarks were most likely intended to remind students that the “tradition and the heritage of the South are watching over you and you should conform or engage in comportment that comes with that valiant tradition,” Professor Gordon said on Saturday.

That notion, of the antebellum South as a pastoral paradise filled with gallantry, is known as the “Lost Cause” ideology, which seeks to play down the evils of slavery and cast the Confederacy’s cause during the Civil War as just and heroic, he added.

When Mr. Prather became president of the University of Texas, he invoked the phrase and changed it to “the eyes of Texas are upon you,” Professor Gordon said.

Students wrote satirical lyrics with the phrase and set them to the tune of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.”

Its first performance was around 1903, by a university quartet at a minstrel show at the Hancock Opera House in Austin, the professor said.

“The assumption is it was performed in blackface,” he said.

The university acknowledges on its website that the song was “first sung at a minstrel show and taken indirectly from a Robert E. Lee quote, contextual elements that many people find offensive.”

“Embracing the song’s meaning today should not stop us from seeing its complicated past, and acknowledging the many ways that people see the song,” it added.

There has been resistance to the song before, Professor Gordon said. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, some student-athletes refused to stand when the song was played, but their efforts did not go far. In 2018, the student government held a debate over whether to stop singing the song.

“This is the first time that I know of that there has been relatively widespread support for having it not be the school song,” said Professor Gordon, who has been at the university for 30 years.

During a briefing with the news media on Thursday, Caden Sterns, a defensive back, said the recent protests around Mr. Floyd’s death and police brutality had created an obligation for students to educate themselves on the country’s history of racism.

Credit…Michael Thomas/Associated Press

“We’re more than just people out there just banging our heads and hitting people,” he said. “We’ve got people who got beliefs and perspectives, and so as athletes, I think we should use that to the fullest ability.”

On Friday, Mr. Sterns posted a message on Twitter, thanking people who have supported the team’s call for change.

“And for those who don’t.. and reacting with hate… still nothing but love,” he wrote. “True colors are being shown, and the hate will be EXPOSED.”

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/13/us/eyes-texas-racist-longhorn-football.html

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Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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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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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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