For generations, many black activists have looked at America’s financial system and said, thanks, but no thanks. As an alternative, they’ve promoted self-sufficiency—the creation of black wealth through black-owned banking and entrepreneurship, and patronage of black businesses. This idea resurfaces again and again, as it did recently in the #BankBlack movement and in Jay-Z’s “The Story of O.J.”: Black Americans ought to use their economic power to shore up their own community, instead of participating in a broader and more discriminatory system.
In her new book, The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap, Mehrsa Baradaran, a professor of law at the University of Georgia specializing in banking law, provides a deep accounting of how America got to a point where a median white family has 13 times more wealth than the median black family. Baradaran’s book covers the period of time spanning from Reconstruction—with the promise and subsequent revocation of land, jobs, and economic independence for freed slaves—to the present. Over this expanse of history, Baradaran finds that much of the economic turmoil black Americans have faced has been the direct result of negligence, discrimination, or broken bonds on the part of both government and private entities run mostly by white Americans.
With that history in mind, she interrogates the question of whether or not black Americans can fix the problem on their own, for instance by turning to black-owned banks to spur lending and wealth creation. She determines that, while theoretically promising, the movement in support of black economic self-sufficiency will falter without the type of powerful assistance that helped create white wealth, including government policies promoting jobs, homeownership, education, and access to loans. “The theory behind developing a separate black economy had been that economic power would lead to political power, but …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Business