Marcus Whitney hopes his thought leadership will start an overdue dialogue about the equity of opportunity in the healthcare sector.
Marcus Whitney, a leading Nashville healthcare entrepreneur, went to social media earlier this week to issue a "call up" to the city's $46 billion healthcare industry to end systemic racism and inequity in its leadership ranks.
Whitney is co-founder of Jumpstart Foundry, one of the city's largest early-stage innovation funds, as well as co-founder of Nashville Soccer Club, Nashville's MLS team. Whitney says he feels like his story is too much of an "anomaly" as one of the only black healthcare entrepreneurs in the city. In posts on LinkedIn and Medium, he writes:
"Nashville's healthcare industry generates more wealth than any other industry here, and Black people are not proportionally part of that wealth generation," Whitney writes.
Whitney praised the support of many white investors who he has worked with. In the last few weeks, however, he has had several conversations with other leaders asking questions.
"I am a black professional that a lot of influential white professionals who are friends of mine trust to ask for feedback and guidance in this moment," Whitney says in an interview with HealthLeaders. "I had a lot of those conversations and what I did for every one of them was tried to make sure that they understood that this moment was catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd, and preceding that Breonna Taylor, and preceding that Ahmaud Arbery. I wanted to make sure they heard it from me because I wasn't sure they had anybody else in their life who would say this to them. I want to make sure they understood that this conversation is about America's legacy of stealing 12+ million Africans and enslaving them for hundreds of years. And then the post-slavery oppression that happened all throughout the 20th century."
Whitney says he didn't have any specific actions in mind when he wrote the post, only hoping that it would start a long overdue dialogue about the equity of opportunity in the healthcare sector.
"I'm explicitly saying I'm calling you 'up' and not calling you 'out,' " Whitney says. "The last sentence is you have the power to change the world. I felt like in this instance that it was not enough to just inspire. I have to validate my own truth outwardly. I have to validate the truth of what's happened here."
Jim Molpus is an editor for HealthLeaders.
Photo credit: Photo courtesy of MarcusWhitney.com