Finntech CEO, Ryan Williams, stated that the United States is experiencing a “reckoning” over race, justice, and inequality that has been decades in the making.
What We Know:
- “We’ve been hallucinating as a country for a long time,” said Williams, the 32-year-old African American founder of Cadre, a startup disrupting the real estate industry with the support of elite investors including George Soros, Mark Cuban, and Peter Thiel.
- Williams, who was on the cover of Forbes in February 2019, said the unrest gripping the United States means these long-simmering issues can no longer be ignored.
- “There are huge opportunity gaps that exist in this country economically,” the Harvard graduate said. “Coronavirus, in many ways, exacerbated and brought those to light.”
- Racial inequality has been a major problem in the United States since far before the pandemic struck. In 2016, the median net worth of white households was about 10 times that of black households, according to the Federal Reserve. The white-black gap in median net worth widened by more than $20,000 to $153,500 between 2013 and 2016, the most recent year statistics are available.
- Williams felt compelled to speak up after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police. “It’s been hurtful…to see someone literally be murdered. Not die in front of us, but be murdered,” he said.
- Williams is distraught by how inclusion and diversity are now dividing the nation. “It’s been heartbreaking to see the very strengths and ideals that this country was founded on being the same thing that tears us apart,” he said.
- Williams grew up in a working-class household in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — which Williams says is a “Deep South city that in the past has been plagued by segregation”.
- In high school, Williams was told by guidance counselors and teachers not to bother applying to Harvard because nobody with his background had gotten in before. He applied anyway, and launched his first real estate company during his senior year there. “I was given an opportunity. I seized the moment. But that opportunity needs to be democratized,” Williams said. “People around this country don’t have access to the American Dream and to the economy.”
Williams said he experienced racism in his career, though it wasn’t always explicit. “A lot of the discrimination, racism and bigotry today isn’t always in-your-face,” he said. “It can be behind the scenes, behind doors. It can be in the boardroom where you might not be.”
Williams said he tries not to get “intertwined” in politics and he speaks to people from across the political spectrum about race. “There’s going to be an opportunity from a voting perspective for people to use their voice,” he said.
“Let’s seize this moment. Let’s use the ideals of America, the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity…to actually make progress in America,” he said.