When the Rap Artist, Killer Mike challenged and encouraged all Blacks to withdraw their money from any and all banking institutions which aren’t black-owned, certainly he didn’t know that a new national movement would be born. His argument raises the possibility that consumers can themselves organize and shift policy and practices by changing the dynamics within the financial services industry. Message translation: until these large financial institutions take a stand against the inequities in society, namely the police treatment of people of color, everyone should stop supporting the success of these banks.
After all, when we deposit money into banks, it is still our money, and we owe the banks no loyalty at all. African Americans spend an estimated $1 trillion dollars in this economy, yet do their banking and patronize institutions where discrimination is financed and supported. Law enforcement agencies, police unions, and many other businesses and governmental institutions also bank with these same financial giants. Banks do have a voice!
Money is power….economic and political! Therefore, as the power to support positive changes is incredible, banks can choose to exercise it, take a stand and support human rights-all humans; all rights! Equality!
Remember when South Africa practiced apartheid? The most effective method that we found to bring about a new systemic political consciousness, new humanistic awareness, and positive changes in a system where its wealth upholds their policies was to ….”hit ’em where it hurts”-in the financial sector. We, the U.S. and other nations decide to ‘divest’ from conducting any business and cease engaging in foreign trade with them. Along with the continued protest of the people, it worked!
The incredible collective wealth and spending power of African Americans and people of color in the United States is undeniably vast. Those families and hard working citizens with bank accounts largely take their monies to white owned banks. The power of the banking industry is great. When they get behind any issue within the political spectrum, wielding their influence, the impact is felt. To date, no large banking official, corporate officers or representatives have spoken out against inequality and discrimination, against unfair police practices or policies, but will gladly house everyone’s money, though. An equal opportunity offender, indeed.
Do banks not have any moral obligations or a mission that aims to do more than make a profit? Is it at any and all costs, too? Although, they are business corporations, they are still managed, owned and operated by people.
In her 2015 book, How the Other Half Banks, Mehrsa Baradaran argued that the banking system we have today was originally established to serve the public interest and facilitate the participation of Americans in a vibrant national economy. But the social contract between the government and financial sector that supported this arrangement has eroded, leaving a thriving financial sector at the public’s expense, and many Americans struggle to maintain a few hundred dollars in savings or a basic banking account.
In the U.S., there are at least 21 black-owned banking institutions. Thus far in the #BankBlack movement, black-owned banks have seen 6-7 million dollars in deposits and the numbers are rising as the consciousness of the people is raised.
The collective wealth of African-American dollars being ‘divested’ may not bankrupt these institutions, but it will definitely make a statement. It is about solidarity, equity, and financial power. Once again, since money represents power and influence in America, and individually, we may be weak to facilitate changes, collectively we have a fighting chance. Voices will be heard and impact will be felt.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: ” Don’t buy where you can’t work!” That was powerful then, and rings with truth today. It’s about economic stability, financial independence, and upward mobility in a democratic society; equal citizens with equal rights! The black family is gathering together and the revolution has begun!
So, for now, all African-Americans are urged to:
…. until the national landscape looks, feels, operates, and becomes what it says: “of the people, by the people and for the people”. Everyone has equal rights, consideration and treatment under the law. That includes access and opportunity! Is that so hard to understand? What would you do? No more police brutality, unnecessary shootings and otherwise mistreatment of people of color-that’s it!