Black-Owned Banks Struggling With Debt
Unemployment is choking life out of Black banks
Soledad O’brien’s Black in America should have a field day with this. The Huffington Post is reporting that Black-owned banks are on the decline, mostly because of disproportionate unemployment in the Black community. Makes sense, banks can’t stay open if their constituents can’t keep money.
"This minority bank community is really catching hell," said Michael Grant, the president of the National Banker's Association, an 84-year-old trade group that represents minority-owned banks. "They have survived everything, including world wars and Jim Crow, but this has been one of the most difficult periods of all."
Since 1994 the number of Black banks in America has dwindled from 54 to 28. Experts say that two contributing factors are that customers are opting to take their savings to larger chains that offer more services and because those same larger banks are aggressively moving into communities and pushing the smaller banks out.
James Young, president of Citizens Trust Bank also inferred that the plight of the Black bank is a victim of faux post-racialism.
“I think we have entered an era where it is comfortable for America to say there is no need for special consideration for institutions like this," said James Young, the president of Citizens Trust Bank in Atlanta. Not just banks, it's historically black colleges, it is a lot of other things that America feels comfortable in saying it no longer has relevance."
Black banks, for the most part, were also left out in the cold when the government started bailing out financial institutions in 2009. Some are even calling foul play saying that there are gatekeepers in place to prevent Black banks from receiving the same federal aid as the larger institutions who created this economic mess in the first place.
"I think like so many community banks in general, they have been subjected to more regulatory scrutiny," Young said. "The regulators, members of Congress, including the black caucus, seem not to care about the survival of these banks. But since their inception, they have been an avenue to the middle class for a lot of African Americans."
In case you didn’t know, Martin Luther King didn’t die preaching about having a dream. He died telling Black folks to take their money out of large banks and put them into Black ones. As we celebrate his legacy in Washington D.C. this week, consider taking his advice.