OneUnited Bank, the largest black-owned bank in America, is joining with the leftist Black Lives Matter movement to offer a debit card in an effort to supporting black-owned businesses and organizations. In a report by The Root -- a website that focuses on issues of interest to black Americans -- OneUnited Bank president Teri Williams said that in an interview that in view of the intertwining of “social and economic justice,” black Americans have the power within themselves to take “positive steps towards addressing some of our challenges.”
Williams claimed that black Americans spend $1.2 trillion in the US economy and by redirecting some of that spending towards black organizations and business, jobs would result as well as support for “movements like Black Lives Matter.”
The article at The Root asserted, “The bank’s position is striking, especially given that only just recently, Wells Fargo refused to create a customized Black Lives Matter card for a customer. But you know how it goes—sometimes it has to be for us, by us.”
OneUnited Bank launched #BankBlack
Challenge last year, which it said is intended to encourage the black community to invest in itself by depositing funds in banks owned by blacks. The stated goal is to move $500 million to black-owned banks by Martin Luther King Day of 2018. The “Amir” debit card will be launched as part of this effort. The name Amir is given to one of the images used in the #BankBlack
campaign, which features a black boy. In addition, the image of Olympic athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving their black power salute at the 1968 Olympics is also used.
A statement found on the BankBlackUSA website says, “We are not fairly served by big banks, and your dollars can be used to support our families, businesses and communities.” It claims that $20 million was deposited in One United Bank since the beginning of the campaign in July 2016. One United Bank, Liberty Bank, Citizens Trust Bank, and Industrial Bank are among the favored financial institutions.
Depositors who receive an Amir card will also receive encouragement from OneUnited to donate to the BlackLivesMatter movement, either as a one-time donation or periodically. Williams of OneUnited said that by using the Amir card, black people effectively say that “black lives do matter, that black money does matter and that we are an important consumer.” Williams added that OneUnited will ensure that it is successful in lending support to BlackLivesMatter.
Melina Abdullah of BlackLivesMatter told The Root that her organization has been banking with OneUnited from the beginning. BLM seeks to use the economic power of black Americans “strategically to strengthen the whole of the black community.” The BankBlack challenge, said Abdullah, will ensure that black people invest in black business instead of spending dollars on “white corporations” that “sometimes are even contributing to the state-sanctioned violence of our people.”
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.