OneUnited Bank is the largest Black owned bank in America, and the Boston-based trust company exists with a goal: to end the racial wealth gap. Teri Williams, the President and COO of OneUnited let theGrio in on their newest campaign, BankBlack X, and how it will boost Black wealth.
If you can’t already tell by the name, BankBlack X draws inspiration from the teachings of Malcolm X. “We really need to focus on self determination.” Williams tells theGrio. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for, as we say. We really need to focus on, whether it’s banking Black, buying Black, building Black, but building the economic power within our community.”
BankBlack X was also inspired by the New York Times 1619 Project, an multi-media series started by Nikole Hannah-Jones to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the start of American slavery. According to the 1619 Project, Black Americans hold only 3% of American wealth, though they are 13% of the population. BankBlack X seeks to increase this percentage by encouraging young people to bank Black and become more aware of their finances.
The plan features a BankBlack X card, an Early Pay feature which allows users to receive payment 2 days early, and access to a free Financial Literacy Center. Available via OneUnited’s website, the Financial Literacy Center includes a series of playlists on topics such as “Starting a Career”, “Planning for Retirement”, and “Major Life Transactions.”
Williams strongly believes in the mantra that the Black community is one transaction away from closing the wealth gap. “For each of us it’s different. In some cases it’s buying a home. In other cases, it’s ensuring that your parents have a will and an insurance policy. In some cases, it is starting up a business. There are different things for different individuals. But what we want our community to do is to relentlessly focus on what that one transaction is for you.”
BankBlack X focuses on someone called the X Factor: “the type of person that is using technology. You have the ability to use information that now is readily available to make better decisions. And you also have the ability to spread the word about the truth, about our money to your friends and family.” While this definitely speaks to younger, tech-savvy Millennials, Williams stresses that the fastest growing group of technology users is the older generation, who should similarly embrace knowledge and help close the wealth gap.
In a time when companies like Bank of America and Chase are making banking easier than ever by way of mobile check deposits and surcharge free ATMs, Williams ensures that OneUnited Bank offers these features and more. “If you want great service and you want to know the truth about our money, then you should bank Black.”