#BankBlack: How Investing In Black Banks Can Change The Game

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

"I encourage to take our warfare to the financial institutions." — Killer Mike

Last week, as a part of a town hall meeting between BET and MTV, the Atlanta rapper proposed that black people start investing their money directly into black banks and credit unions, encouraging one million people to start a $100 bank account with any banking establishment of color.

The call was heard: black America began investing in black banks from sea to shining sea, resulting in a monumental increase in membership for certain banks in the span of several days. The biggest beneficiary so far has been Citizens Trust Bank, where more than 8,000 people have opened an account. Founded in 1921 the now 95-year-old Atlanta institution is historically important, having served black business and homeowners during segregation.

Other black owned banks have also reported receiving a surge of deposits recently. According to The Houston Chronicle, the Unity National Bank has gotten more than 350 new accounts in the last week.

#BankBlack, the Twitter hashtag that has accompanied this movement, has helped emphasize this renaissance of black economic solidarity. What's currently happening serves as a helpful reminder of what can happen when people take control of who and what they invest in, ultimately leading to a more efficient and supportive network of black communities.

"If we can bring together our economics collectively, we can help businesses grow, we can help people obtain home loans. That brings them closer to the American Dream," Citizens Trust Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Credit Officer Frederick Daniels Jr. said. "We’re providing a tangible solution for those who want action."

Lenny Kravitz, Grace Jones, Lauryn Hill, Lion Babe, Thundercat, SZA & More Rock The Afropunk Festival 2015 in Brooklyn, NY.

Black economic solidarity comes at a time when it is needed most. Gentrification has become more problematic throughout the country recently, displacing black families and business owners out of neighborhoods they grew up in and have been a part of for years. As a part of his proposal Killer Mike also offered a result: by investing in these black owned banks, they'll be able to give small home and business loans for areas that are being gentrified so they can continue to thrive.

"Larger banks will not float those types of loans to minorities especially," the rapper said during the BET x MTV town hall event. "I know this because I own a small business and I’ve tried to apply for them."

But black banking speaks to an even larger issue: America's capitalist system. Something as simple as how we spend our money can be used as a means of protest, and when that is used towards a collective effort — in this case rebuilding black communities — it tempers the system. Case in point: the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Part of the reason the boycott was so effective was because so many black people refused to use the city's transit system for one day. Instead the people decided that biking, walking and using black taxis to get across Montgomery was the move.

Several years later after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, on the opposite side of the world, the Anti-Apartheid Movement was ushering in a divestment movement that ultimately led to the end of Apartheid in South Africa. By now Nelson Mandela was already serving his lifetime sentence in prison, but his work in the South African Communist Party served as the roots in which the Anti-Apartheid Movement would take its place.

The AAM had many successful divestment boycotts, with South African college students pressuring their universities to divest stocks of companies doing business in the country. One of the more notable instances of divestment was when Barclays Bank discontinued its involvement in South Africa during Apartheid. And when a student boycott of the bank led to a drop in its share of the UK student market, the economy reeled back as profit margins were lost to the tune of 15 to 27 percent.

That, along with boycotts of white-owned businesses in South Africa (in 1985, 27-year-old Mkhuseli Jackorganized such a boycott in the city of Port Elizabeth), led to a significant devaluation of the rand (South Africa's currency) and inflation that reached the double digits.

Regaining interest in investing in black banks is reflective of the times: a time in which our people are being displaced, killed and continuously mistreated because of the color of our skin. By doing this black America isn't only supporting itself but fighting and protesting against a system that benefits from us in wide swaths, but doesn't necessarily support us or our endeavors. #BankBlack is a reminder of what can be achieved through economic solidarity, and the beauty of helping each other build communities that mean so much to us.

What do you think? Is this a way to combat the crimes committed against people of color? Speak on it in the comments below or hit us up on Twitter @Okayplayer!