Banking on Our Own

Zachary Raynell Rinkins

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan recently filed a lawsuit alleging that one of the nation’s top mortgage lenders illegally discriminated against minority borrowers. This suit only solidifies a reality mainly minorities face when pursuing the American dream.

It’s expensive to be black in America. Recent studies and lawsuits prove we are overcharged for virtually everything. We are charged more for insurance, loans and mortgages than most of our racial counterparts with similar income, employment and credit backgrounds. Paying more money for vital services robs us of our quality of life and our future.

Why does Wall Street get away with this? Because, black Americans don’t invest in black-owned banks. If our banks remain under-capitalized they will never compete with mainstream banks. No competition means you get overcharged.

I am in no way advocating that we economically segregate ourselves from Wall Street. I am advocating that we cultivate competition so you don’t get overcharged while pursuing the American Dream. We will never reach our economic potential if we don’t strengthen black-owned financial institutions.

According to the U.S Census, black America will approach $1.2 trillion in disposable income by 2012. Yet, none of Black Enterprise’s Top 25 Black-owned Banks has $1 billion in assets. Their combined assets total nearly $6.4 billion. That means that out of $1.2 trillion we invest less than one cent per $1000 of our disposable income in our own financial institutions. In effect, other communities can depend on black money to finance their future.

Our biggest obstacle for starting a business, funding college tuition or buying a home is lack of access to capital. Capital comes from financial institutions. If black banks don’t have capital that means they can’t afford to help you buy a home, start a business or send your child to college. Your only option is to go to banks that will overcharge you and not invest in your community.