After the shootings of Philando Castille and Alton Sterling many black folks decided they’d had enough. Overnight, black banks received a surge of new deposits. In a five day period in July, Citizen’s Trust Bank in Atlanta opened 8,000 new accounts! Industrial Bank in Washington opened over 1,500 new accounts with deposit balances of approximately $2.7 million in the last month, according to their Facebook page. So what now? Moving our money is necessary and a radical act of protest for sure but movements change the world, not momentary protests. If we’re serious about building a movement that will change the world our children will live in, it’s time to get serious about black economic empowerment in our community. Let’s start local and follow our money.
Taking the step to bank black is critical because banks are an anchor to prosperous neighborhoods. Homeownership is, by and large, made possible by banks. The success of small and large businesses alike are tied to lines of credit from banks. When we make deposits in banks, we expect them to then invest in our community and provide opportunities locally. The problem with multinational banks is that while they may take your deposits in Ferguson, Missouri, for example, they will often invest in Dubai or use your cash to play in the Wall Street casino. That doesn’t help our community. Black banks, however, are local and as such their primary business is to invest in the communities they serve. Further, because the bulk of their clientele is also black, these institutions play a critical role in providing capital to black entrepreneurs and homeowners. As we deposit our dollars, they make it possible for black entrepreneurs to access capital and for renters to begin building wealth through homeownership.
The desire for strong black communities is what we and black banks share in common. Strong black communities start with black businesses. Businesses, however, depend on capital from banks for everything from startup costs to meeting payroll. When black banks are strong, they are better able to support black businesses. We need our businesses to expand so that the owners become wealthy and also hire more black people. Black banks certainly want that because in many cases they have loaned out money to those businesses; the bank’s survival depends on those businesses making good on their loans. As depositors in black institutions, we can help by seeking out the businesses our banks are lending to and ensuring that they are prosperous. This will mean that businesses in our community are growing and hiring locally, as we support them. Our support also ensures that those businesses can pay back the bank. Everyone wins. Your church, fraternity/sorority or neighborhood group could easily start here. The bank needs businesses to pay back their loans and as such, I’m sure they would be glad to steer their customers to businesses they are in relationship with. This is following our money.
There are many other steps to be taken but this is a small, simple step that we can start with. If you have opened an account with a black bank, be sure that others around you do the same and collectively, follow your money. Is your fraternity chapter banking at your new bank also? Make sure they are and then as a chapter, follow your money. Is your church banking black? Be sure it is and as a congregation, follow your money. Start by scheduling a meeting between your organization and the bank leadership and let them know that you’d like to make sure the businesses they’ve loaned money to can pay those loans back. They will certainly find some way to steer you to businesses serving the community. Support those businesses and when you do, make sure the owners know that you expect them to hire from the community, as they grow. As they hire unemployment decreases. When that happens more money circulates within a community and when these factors collide, property values in a neighborhood rise. This leads to wealth creation.
**No one can oppress you unless you give them the money to do it**