By Jay Conner, The Root
The Black dollar is big business.
With $1.3 trillion in annual buying power, the influence we wield on the global economy is undeniable. Yet far too often, we’re unable to fully capitalize on our collective monetary might. Looking to break this cycle is OneUnited Bank—the largest Black-owned bank in the country—with their commitment to garnering our tremendous spending power and rerouting it back into our communities in order to build businesses, amass wealth, and generate sustainable economic power.
In their efforts to close the racial wealth gap, OneUnited Bank has unveiled its latest campaign, BankBlack X; which seeks to empower Black consumers by introducing a host of new features and educational initiatives designed to take the bank Black movement to the next level.
“We’re offering improved services based on feedback that we received from our customers. One of the most impactful is that we now pay two days early,” Teri Williams, president, chief operating officer and owner of OneUnited Bank, told The Root. “So if people have a direct deposit from us or to us, whether it’s Social Security or a paycheck, if they have a regular direct deposit that comes into a OneUnited Bank checking account, we will pay that that deposit up to two days early.”
Another feature that’s being introduced is tap-to-pay, which makes purchases far more convenient.
“It allows you to pay much more quickly with less hassle,” Williams said. “It’s particularly helpful in transportation as people are going through the turnstile. And urban markets, they’re able to just tap and keep moving.”
Also being released is their black card—the BankBlack Card—which is the first-ever offered by a Black-owned bank.
“Some of our customers love our images. Others wanted something that was a little more basic and classy, though we think all of our cards are classy,” Williams said. “So we introduced an all-black card.”
But as exciting as these new features are to account holders, Williams is most excited about the educational component of this campaign, which promises to focus on financial literacy and telling the truth about our money.
“A lot of the things that we’ve been taught about black people and money have been wrong. These untruths are incorrect. And to be honest, racist,” she said. “We’ve been taught that we’re not good with money. We’ve been taught that if we would spend less, we would be able to build wealth. We’ve been taught that we spend money on the wrong things.”
She added, “These are all myths that have happened in our community and that spread in our community and we really want to address them head-on and really explain to not just our community, but even the broader community why there’s this wealth gap and how important it is for us to understand the truth, because through understanding the truth, we can appreciate how far we have come despite the discriminatory practices that have existed for 400 years. So whether it was slavery, reconstruction, Jim Crow, redlining, there were all these legal public policies that were stopping us from building wealth.”
To that end, OneUnited Bank will begin publishing articles and offer financial literacy training in order to better inform and educate our communities on the true power of the Black dollar.
Additionally, they’ll be partnering with Sirius XM to produce a town hall on Nov. 5 that will explore the New York Times’ explosive 1619 Project in order to contextualize the history of Black wealth in relation to our collective value and economic power today. This event will include appearances by Nikole Hannah-Jone, 2019 Root 100 honoree and creator of the landmark 1619 Project; Trymaine Lee, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and contributor to the project; and Karen Hunter, who will moderate the discussion on behalf of Sirius Urban View.
Williams will also be a participant and hopes the BankBlack X campaign makes one thing explicitly clear in regard to our disparate economic standing.
“We’re really only one transaction away from closing the wealth gap. Just one transaction, which is amazing given that we’ve been discriminated against for 400 years and have only been legally free for 50 years or so,” she said. “That one transaction could be buying a home. It could be starting a business. It could be investing in the stock market. It could be even insuring that are our parents or grandparents have wills and have a way to pass down some of the assets that they’ve accumulated. But we truly are just one transaction away from closing the wealth gap, regardless of the negativity that you hear about our people.”
To learn more about OneUnited Bank’s BankBlack X campaign, visit their website.
This article originally appeared in The Root.