I’m Black and I do not have one single account with a Black-owned bank. And if I’m going to explain why I don’t have an account in a Black-owned bank or credit union despite my love of all things black and all things money, I would have to admit that it never really crossed my mind to get one.
I’ve been patronizing my local branch of Ridgewood Bank, a small community bank, for more thirty years. My mom opened my first account there when I was six years old. And since then, I’ve built relationships there, and stayed out of familiarity and convenience.
And if the recent spotlight on Black banks didn’t happen, I honestly believe that I would have opened up an account for my newborn daughter at Ridgewood as well, creating a new, loyal generation of black customers who do not support Black banks.
Does this scenario sound familiar? You know, doing something out of routine, ignorance, and without (intentional) malice?
Light bulb Moment
When I think about the seven accounts that I have opened at my current bank — which also includes my business account for The Frugal Feminista — I feel a little heavy. I think about all of the money that could have been used by a Black-owned bank to build its assets and expand its reach.
But no use in crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done. And since I know now better, I can do better. The idea of opening up an account at a Black-owned bank is the best baby step in creating a financial statement of Black political solidarity while simultaneously building personal wealth for you and your family.
Here are some tips to help you move from deciding to open an account to actually opening the account.
1.You can find a bank near you.
As of March 31, 2016, the number of Black-owned banks, credit unions or savings and loan associations totaled 23, according to the Federal Reserve. If you can’t find one that is conveniently close, inquire about their online banking services.
2. Black banks still serve a purpose.
We would be remiss if we forgot that Black folk were targeted for subprime mortgages during the 2008 housing crisis because of racist predatory practices by many of the banks that we (me included) patronize. One of the reasons that Black-owned banks were created in the first place was to provide quality financial products and services to African-Americans, a demographic that was largely ignored, exploited, and/or marginalized by white banking institutions because of this country’s legacy of institutional racism.
Our current racial climate proves that Black banks not only have a place in the financial lives of Black people, but also in our political lives. Galvanizing and pooling our resources while simultaneously funding Black businesses is an essential strategy for creating economic equality in this country for African-Americans.
3. You don’t have to move all of your money.
The beauty of the #BankBlack and #MoveYourMoney movements is that you don’t have to clean out your accounts to support this effort. Killer Mike suggested that you move $100 to a Black bank. If you have to start with a smaller amount, do so and then automate weekly, biweekly, or monthly withdrawals to build the account without any extra hassle.
4. Don’t #BankBlack alone. Spread awareness of their existence.
One of the ways to ensure that Black banks continue to benefit from our business is to make a commitment to talking about them regularly. Consider sharing articles about Black wealth or organizing visits to Black banks to make sure that this movement outlives its hashtag’s popularity.
This is an exciting time for our collective financial future. With just a few dollars, we have the power to disrupt and reconstruct the ways in which we, and by extension, our money are handled.
For a full list of Black and Minority-Owned banks, click here.