There has never been a better opportunity to gain civil rights and social justice because of the internet. We know the Millennial and Gen Z generations are the most advanced models that there has ever been in social organizing and economic development through technology. Social media can set wildfires to a movement to effect a change in real-time, but as we tweet and post, isn’t it time we put our money where our mouth is?
Since the early 1900s, many black leaders have recognized the importance of banking. In 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. stated the “bank-in” movement would “begin the process of building a greater economic base…we are putting pressure where it really hurts.” He urged people to put their money in the black-owned Tri-State Bank that is still running today.
The primary goal of these black-owned banks was to teach financial literacy and to better protect their people. In 2020 we are still dealing with economic disparities in society, this is where the internet needs to recognize the importance of leadership and direction to better protect black communities. There are major benefits in bringing together different collectives that have similar interests. The fight for social and economic justices, for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and many more face many of the same challenges of disenfranchisement.
When we bring our capital together we can better protect ourselves, get better resources, and be successful which would give us a start in obtaining social justice. Black-owned banks were organizations built out of an inherent need. Black-owned banks were the principal lenders to churches, small businesses, and community organizations. For decades, black-owned banks have been, and sometimes are still, the only option for black people in need of mortgages and business loans.
In July 2016, police killed Alton Sterling in Louisiana, only a day after Philando Castile was killed in Minnesota. Social influencers and celebrities spoke out about banking with FDIC-insured black-owned banks. Black-owned banks found they had gained over 60 million in deposits when there were many calls to action. For instance on Atlanta’s Hot radio station 107.9, Michael Render said to “go to your bank tomorrow and say, ‘until you as a corporation start to speak on our behalf, I want all my money.’”
We are all aware of the racial discrepancies in interest rates for minorities. In America, Black and Hispanic families are far more likely to fall into predatory loans. The financial crisis of 2007 showed over 50% of black homebuyers and 41% of Latino buyers lived in homes financed by high stake mortgages vs just 22% of whites who were prey to this too. Black-owned banks have better rates for their customers, are more likely to give loans to small businesses and first-time homeowners.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimated that in the third quarter of 2018, black homeownership was around 41.7% amongst black populations. This hasn’t changed since 1970. Even today, after MLK called for a bank-in movement 50 years ago, the rates of black homeownership, which is usually a family’s largest asset, has not improved. The conventional banking system which has contributed, and still does, to systematic racism and injustice is very much accountable for keeping black homeownership where it is.
Major cities like Chicago were doing what is known as redlining for decades, where they would divide the city into segregated areas where “whites” would easily get loans to buy in “white-only” areas and black people would either not be able to qualify for loans, especially for homes in places designated as “white-only” by banks.
Block-busting was also another tactic for decades. Realtors and speculators would sell a house to a black family in a “white” neighborhood and then go around to the neighborhood and cause a mass-selling panic by telling them that their home values are going to fall because of this black family.
This is why systematic oppression is so fierce. It was not just one person who was in control of every mechanism. It was a mindset of almost everyone who identified as “white” across banking, real estate, lending, education, and many other fields that had an innate fear and hate of black people. They all colluded either consciously or subconsciously to keep black people down.
Such collusion kept most black people in poverty or as close to poverty as possible. States then funded schools based on property taxes and those taxes were based on the values of homes owned. Because black people were forced into lower-value areas, schools would constantly be under-funded which would then limit education, and students in these schools would not do as well in standardized exams to get into universities like their white counterparts. Each mechanism would create ripple effects into every other aspect of black life to sustain the oppression.
Thus, as hashtags under #bankblack grows in numbers activists are still promoting this cause. Although hashtags #blacklivesmatter and #shopblack still takes the lead in popularity, we are still seeing the value in banking black and how future generations can benefit from investing with these organizations.
List of black-owned banks you can sign up to.