Is the #Blexit #BlackTransferChallenge trading one evil for another?
A response to the AAIHS blog post: "Why #BankBlack Is Betraying The Black Freedom Struggle"
We have received messages and emails regarding the recent blog post by AAIH which flags the #BankBlack movement as controversial, noting the inherent racist and insidious nature of capitalism and its inextricable presence in ALL for profit banks.
First, it’s important to appreciate the fact that this topic is becoming a mainstream conversation within the Black community. This is a good conversation to have.
Now, to keep things simple and to the point, AAIHS's argument, as we understand it, is that whether Black owned Bank or Big Bank, all for profit banks operate within capitalism, which is in its nature, anti Black.
We completely agree.
We at Blexit are anti-capitalism. We do not believe Black capitalism is the golden key to Black liberation. However, we believe capitalism is a powerful tool for economic disruption and Black liberation.
Our action today resulted in close to 80 people pledging to open an account with a Black owned Bank and deposit $100 in that account as an act of social noncooperation and solidarity in opposition to 'Big Banks' who contributed and benefitted off of decades of victimizing Black communities (see our pledge language here: http://www.blexitmn.org/black-transfer-challenge).
The goal of this and future actions is to create a culture of consumer divestment that shifts funds away from the most egregious economic vultures and builds power in numbers of consumers who demand fair and equitable financial systems that rebuild the Black community, i.e. a credit union model of a Black banking (as mentioned in the article), more specifically, the first one of its kind in our state (Minnesota does not have a Black Bank).
While we agree with the article premise, the title of the article may be problematic. To blanket all Black owned banks and the #BankBlack movement as a whole as 'Betrayers of the Black Freedom Struggle' is like blaming your local soul food spot for the diabetes epidemic in the Black community. It's like saying all Black police officers are personally contributing to the state sanctioned murder of unarmed Black people (that may actually have some meat to it but just go with us for a sec here). We know these systems are evil and racist, however, we live in these systems, we contribute to them as consumers and citizens; that experience in participation gives us leverage and power. The more we build that leverage with intention the more power we harness.
Another consideration, Black enterprise has often used capitalism as a starting point for fighting the Black struggle. At some point we must face our propensity to cut down these efforts prematurely, with razor sharp criticism, before we take the time to invest and shape our growing small for-profit businesses into tools for our liberation, no matter how entangled they may seem.
Constructive criticism is healthy and should be welcomed but being publicly divisive when it comes to anything Black gaining influence, power, wealth could derail what may otherwise be shaped into a powerful united front.
The 'Big Banking' industry, largely White, largely male, is and has been a blatant outlier to widespread, real, tangible, generational damage to our community. While there are many Black owned Banks who, while functioning as for-profit, have deep roots in their local communities and pride themselves in being tools for Black liberation, however small. Can we fairly say that by default all Black Bankers are ultimately just looking to pimp the Black community for a jump off into the bliss of Black capitalism?
As we build up Black Banks and add numbers under a united understanding of our goal, we have the opportunity to negotiate with Black banking institutions who have the experience, existing infrastructure and capital to shift the Black economy toward equity and power and away from capitalism. Our goal at Blexit is not to reinvent the Black banking wheel but negotiate with the banks we already have and if our efforts fail, build our vision from the ground up.
In the meantime, we want to send a clear message to the trillion dollar industry of Big Banks who have pillaged our communities for generations: there is power in our dollars and we are preparing to exit their institutions if we don't see sweeping changes in their practices. We expect that message to travel all the way down to Black owned for-profit Banks who we sincerely hope recognize this moment as an opportunity to get on the right side of history.