Bethenny Frankel Insists Black Women Entrepreneurs Find White Guys To Represent Them
On Saturday, Skinny Girl Vodka Founder Bethenny Frankel made an appearance as the keynote speaker at women’s entrepreneurial summit, Project Entrepreneur, presented by Rent The Runway and UBS. What should have been an empowering moment up at the podium though, turned into a slew of offenses.
Black entrepreneur Mary Pryor wrote about her experience at the event, and she says the following about what went down during the Q&A when Frankel was asked about the challenges of raising funding for women of color:
“I was stunned when Frankel implied that women should have sex with men in exchange for capital. I was offended when she expressed some kind of kinship with black women because she’s “loud.” And I was taken aback when she advised those of us in the room to get business advice to hire a white man as the face of our companies.
There is no video footage from the event but a few people recounted what happened via Twitter and according to them, moderators ignored angry audience members and even took the mic from Pryor when she stood up to raise her objections.
— Dana Donofree (@DanaDonofree) April 9, 2016
— Marah Lidey (@marahml) April 9, 2016
To the brave black woman who asked what to do when ppl tell her to get a white man as the face of her org,Im so sorry for @Bethenny's answer
— Marah Lidey (@marahml) April 9, 2016
— Ellen Choi (@LNchoi) April 9, 2016
On Monday, Pryor wrote a series of tweets to the organizers about why she was so disturbed by the direction of the keynote Q&A.
To the organizers of @RenttheRunway #PEIntensive16 and their events this weekend I applaud the diverse room of women thanks to @UBS… However #PEIntensive16’s keynote via @Bethenny was offensive and wrong NOT proper for a room full of female founders… I along with another ally of color stood up to address how offensive @Bethenny was to not just us but the entire room.
For @Bethenny to insist that a young, Black female founder “Find a white guy” to rep her biz is a racial microaggression… For #PEIntensive16 to not issue an apology to the women of color in the room that were offended by her statement bothers me… I am tired of being asked to be present in the room for female founders events & have my voice SHUT DOWN… I am tired of WW telling me that I am not enough to run & rep something I have built @Bethenny’s remarks are damaging esp. in room full of women (mostly white) especially to a Black female founder. I want that young, Black female founder to feel empowered not told she isn’t enough by keynote at a conference.
Shortly afterwards, Project Entrepreneur issued this apology:
“Thank you for standing up and speaking your mind. The fact that you felt shut down is completely contrary to the goals of the weekend. We apologize to you and our guests. We believe that every founder is enough on her own. We disagree with any sentiments to the contrary. There is so much that goes unsaid in this movement and we want to encourage the conversation around this topic. Thank you for your work with @digitalundivided and your advocacy on behalf of those who have not had a voice for so long.”
All Bethenny had to say in response to all of this was:
I don't care if ur woman,man, black,white,hispanic,green or purple.In biz & life be better than everyone else.Don't complain.Don't explain.
— Bethenny Frankel (@Bethenny) April 13, 2016
“Women shouldn’t stand for ignorance and bias in this space,” Mary wrote in a blog for Huffington Post. “Further, being black should not be viewed as a deterrent to success. If more of us come together, then fewer of us will succumb to the ideologies of the Bethenny Frankels in the business world. It’s time to break cycles of ignorance and bias towards female founders of all backgrounds. White men, this means you too.”