'Black Dollars Matter': Bank-Ins May Be The Way to Empowerment
According to the president of OneUnited Bank, which bills itself as the first black-owned internet bank, after the wake of recent protests over police-involved deaths of black men, business has increased tenfold.
"We've had a surge," said Teri Williams, OneUnited's president. "When I say surge, I mean people lined up outside the door of our branches to open accounts."
Her bank is not alone.
fter the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, black activists nationwide organized boycotts of major banks and retailers — including an economic boycott of a Baton Rouge mall and Walmart the weekend of Sterling's death. Activists have called on African-Americans to patronize black-owned stores and banks, to use the hashtags #BankBlack challenge and #MoveYourMoney, and to circulate a mass text thread to engage citizens.
And, in a seemingly unrelated Facebook movement, activists, called on more than 8,000 people to participate in "Day of Absence Pt. 1," encouraging its following to restrict purchasing goods from select retailers and restaurants and essentially any businesses that are not minority-owned.
"It is high time that we stop talking about our purchasing power and show our true value in all areas of life," the Facebook page stated.
Such efforts, black business owners say, have resulted in an uptick in business.
"As we say internally," Williams said of her bank staff's mantra, "black dollars matter."
Black buying power has a major influence on America's economy. The 2015 Multicultural Economy Report from the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth estimated black buying power to be $1.2 trillion in 2015, with potential to reach $1.4 trillion in 2020.
These numbers and the recent galvanization on social media helped lead to OneUnited's #BankBlack challenge, which encourages banking with black-owned banks.
"Every community spends money within their community," Williams said. "For whatever reason when it's us, it's considered to be radical. We really do need to be unapologetically black."
Rapper Killer Mike has been a strong advocate for African Americans to move at least portions of their money to black-owned banks to stimulate economies in those communities. The Atlanta native is particularly fond of Citizens Trust Bank, a black-owned bank in his hometown.
"What I would like to see happen is one million people instead of buying Jordans or caps or whatever thing is cool this month," he said, "one million black people find one black banking institution," Killer Mike said at the "What Now" town hall hosted by MTV and BET.
Over the past week, Citizens Trust received about 8,000 applications for new accounts and they've opened 2,200 of those accounts according to the bank's President and CEO, Cynthia N. Day.
"We're extremely excited that people are galvanizing around this cause (and) want to join us on this journey and our mission to create a better economic situation for our community," said Day.
Read more at NBCNEWS.COM.
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