A black leftist and white leftist who briefly worked together to ostensibly combat alleged racism have since grown deeply apart for the usual reasons, including money.
According to a lengthy profile by the Los Angeles Times, activists Michelle Saahene, who’s black, and Melissa DePino, who’s white, met during the infamous Philadelphia Starbucks bathroom incident of 2018.
Recall that two black men were arrested after they kept loitering inside a Starbucks. Despite the loitering rule being a longstanding policy, the arrests prompted nationwide protests. The arrests also inspired much more.
“It also launched lucrative new careers for both [Saahene and DePino], who teamed up to promote awareness about racism and started a nonprofit that provided sensitivity talks to corporations just as the diversity, equity and inclusion industry was about to take off,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
They also began “landing occasional corporate gigs or appearances on university campuses,” appeared on Jada Pinkett-Smith’s “Red Table Talk,” popped up on MSNBC, and even spoke at the Women’s March in Philadelphia.
Two friends started a company to provide sensitivity training to corporations just as the DEI industry was about to take off.
Then, everything fell apart. @jaweedkaleem reports: https://t.co/Z549wue7I5
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) May 17, 2023
They called their project Privilege to Progress or P2P, and as noted by the Times, it “took off” especially after the George Floyd riots of 2020.
“The number of followers on their Instagram account shot up from around 20,000 to roughly half a million. By late 2020, the women had monthly, sometimes weekly, paid engagements at Google, Spectrum, Ikea, Yale, MIT, Tufts and the United Nations,” the Times notes.
“They launched an Instagram Live series and snagged interviews with Hollywood actors including Ilana Glazer, Jameela Jamil and Sophia Bush. They hosted “Unscripted,” a weekly video program in which they answered questions on the do’s and don’ts of being anti-racist,” according to the Times.
They essentially made money — bundles of it — by preaching racial grievance-mongering, particularly the type loved by race-obsessed leftists.
Ironically, the beginning of the end for P2P started when the money started drying up as the country moved on from the George Floyd rights and Saahene, the black leftist, started directing her own racial grievance-mongering at DePino.
“Saahene grew introspective. Living in Ghana for long stretches had made her feel empowered in her black skin. She began to question her role as a black woman who spoke to white audiences about racism,” according to the Times.
“She began to think back to disagreements she’d had with DePino — differences that had seemed minor at the time but in a new light felt more troubling. One such conflict involved Saahene’s growing discomfort about capitalizing on the corporate interest in social justice that followed Floyd’s murder,” the Times notes.
“I was growing faster and thinking about this all at a deeper, more complex level. I told her the pain I was feeling about how we were making money off of this. Her responses were cold,” Saahene told the Times.
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Yet despite complaining about the two earning money from ostensibly combatting alleged racism, guess what Saahene’s next complaint was.
“Then there was the question of how to divide the profits from their business. The two women had always split them evenly, but in 2019 Saahene had suggested that she deserved a greater share,” according to the Times.
“It seemed clear that the venture would have gotten little traction without a black woman on board, and in her view, speaking about racism required more ’emotional labor’ on her part,” the Times notes.
Things only got worse from there, as Saahene predictably started accusing DePino of perpetuating racism.
“Saahene texted, saying she felt unheard and pointing out past moments she now considered ‘microaggressions.’ One involved a suggestion by DePino that they visit a lynching memorial in Alabama together. ‘As if we haven’t had numerous conversations about how traumatizing it is for me to witness violence against black bodies,’ Saahene wrote,” according to the Times.
“She called DePino ‘manipulative’ and cited ‘the challenges of working with white women in racial justice,’ arguing that ‘black people shouldn’t always have to be in therapist or coach mode,'” the Times notes.
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DePino, a naïve leftist, was caught completely off guard.
“I thought we were working things out. I thought we were best friends. Instead, I learned that we were not friends anymore. … The organization had a mission and she no longer supported it,” she said.
To make matters worse, Saahene not only sought to go her own way — she demanded that DePino “dissolve” P2P.
Then came April 22, 2022, when Saahene took over P2P’s social media accounts and used them to smear DePino as “not honest” and as having no “commitment to ending colonialism.”
DePino reportedly deleted the posts and sent an email to Saahene writing, “You cannot legally slander me… I will send a cease-and-desist ASAP.”
In response, Saahene replied, “My life experiences and statements are truth.”
And there it is. The facts don’t matter. Logic doesn’t matter. Nothing matters but whatever the racial grievance monger thinks matters. Welcome to the wonderful world of diversity, equity, and so-called inclusion!
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