In the first part of our interview, Teri Williams, President and member of the Board of Directors at OneUnited Bank—the largest black-owned bank and the first black Internet bank—shared that the #BankBlack initiative is aimed at demonstrating the power of the black dollar. The purpose of the initiative is to increase community awareness regarding the need to recycle dollars within black community by banking with black-owned banks and buying from black businesses.
Williams discussed the power of the movement with Black Enterprise:
BE.com: What are some of your biggest concerns, when it comes to the financial habits of African Americans?
Williams: First, we have to recognize that we have come a long way against the odds. Historical employment discrimination, red lining, and subprime lending were real obstacles to wealth creation within the black community. In fact, the difference between black and white wealth is largely explained by home ownership; there were public policies and banking practices that were imposed on us, yet many of us built some wealth against these odds.
Second, we have to try to address three areas where we have more control: better management of our banking relationships, better management of credit, and increased savings. Many of us have ChexSystems records, low credit scores, and very little savings. If we addressed these three areas, we would be on a better path to building wealth. OneUnited Bank offers products and services that assist these three areas.
BE.com: What does the black community need to do in order to step into a mindset that will help them thrive financially?
Williams: Yes, the black community has annual spending of $1.2 trillion. We have the resources to build wealth, however we simply have to be more purposeful with our money. Currently, only two percent of our $1.2 trillion is spent within the black community. If we can increase that percentage from two percent to 10%, we can create one million jobs in the black community. Those of us with resources need to bank with black-owned banks and buy black to accomplish that goal.
BE.com: What impact would a wide scale shift to black banks mean for the community as a whole, in terms of wealth building?
Williams: The impact would be huge. First, it would demonstrate the power of the black dollar. If one million people open $100 savings accounts, we could move $100 million. It gives us a seat at the economic table and begins to show that black money matters.
To participate in the #BankBlack Challenge from anywhere in America, go to www.oneunited.com/bankblackchallenge, open a $100 new savings account, and challenge 20 friends to do the same.