Michelle Saahene, a Black woman, and Melissa DePino, a white woman, who united to establish an anti-racism non-profit, are now experiencing discord due to their cultural disparities, as stated in several reports.
Both Saahene and DePino witnessed the 2018 incident of two innocent Black businessmen being unjustly arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks, which was captured on video. In a 46-second clip, Saahene can be heard saying, “They didn’t do anything. I saw the entire thing.”
According to Yahoo, DePino sought out Saahene and subsequently shared the footage of the distressing incident online. “It was a simple act,” DePino explained in a 2018 interview with The Los Angeles Times. “I witnessed injustice and spoke up about it, sharing it within my predominantly white social network. This drew attention to a pervasive issue.”
Saahene and DePino formed a bond that led them to launch Privilege to Progress (P2P). As reported by Yahoo, their objective was to educate people about workplace racism. Their efforts made P2P a trusted resource for prominent brands and companies, including Google and MIT. Jada Pinkett Smith even invited them to appear on her show, “Red Table Talk.”
Saahene addressed paid engagements by stating, “White people are tired of hearing this story. We’re tired of living it too. If we want to dismantle racism, everyone needs to participate in the conversation.”
However, P2P’s existence was cut short when Saahene began to feel that she was the sole attraction due to her skin color and personal experiences, as she revealed to the Los Angeles Times.
“I was growing and delving into this issue at a deeper and more intricate level… I conveyed to her the discomfort I felt about profiting from our work. Her responses were unsympathetic,” Shaheen explained.
Allegedly, DePino, who managed P2P’s finances and social media accounts, disagreed with Saahene’s suggestion that she deserved a 50% share of the profits.
According to Yahoo, Saahene referred to DePino as “manipulative” in a social media post and discussed the challenges of collaborating with white women in the realm of racial justice.
“I believed we were resolving our differences. I thought we were best friends,” DePino stated to the Los Angeles Times. “Instead, I discovered that we were no longer friends… She no longer supported the organization’s mission.”