One of the action points of the #BuyBlackCampaign is to find ways to circulate the Black dollar. In other words, we should patronize our own businesses and invest in our own communities. One way to do that is to #BankBlack. In 2016, this campaign was responsible for millions of dollars in deposits invested in Black-owned banks.
If we have learned nothing else from that campaign, we now know that the only color that gets the establishment's attention is green--or should we say, the absence of it. One thing is for certain: the economic unity of a group of people can accomplish more than several groups working independently. In that spirit, OneUnited Bank and the Black Lives Matter movement have teamed up to introduce a debit card called the "Amir."
President of OneUnited Bank, Teri Williams, told The Root more about the partnership. "Social and economic justice are intertwined, and we have the power within ourselves to take some important, positive steps towards addressing some of our challenges,” she said.
“We spend $1.2 trillion, and if we could redirect some of that spending towards supporting some of our organizations and our business, we can grow jobs and we can help movements like Black Lives Matter in giving them the resources that they need in order to be successful,” Williams continued.
It makes sense that these two entities would join forces. Black Lives Matter focuses on social activism, online galvanizing, and physical protests while OneUnited focuses on increasing the presence and power of Black-owned financial institutions as well as financial literacy.
The design of the card is intentionally symbolic. The young man wearing the hoodie is meant to invoke the memory of unarmed slain teen Trayvon Martin. In the background are images of Olympians Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the Black Power salute from their 1968 medal ceremony.
Organizer and original Black Lives Matter member Melina Abdullah explains the symbolism saying, "We have this face of this beautiful black boy who will evoke for many folks people like Trayvon Martin. There is the reminder of ... the possibilities that there are for our future, and then just behind the image of Amir is Tommie Smith and John Carlos ... which is really a beautiful representation of black power and the resolve to stand up for black people even when it costs you a little bit."
Every debit card user will be encouraged by OneUnited to make donations to Black Lives Matter whether it is a monthly, annual, or one-time donation. Williams hopes that users will be reminded to spend purposefully with those whose businesses help our communities thrive.
Abdullah stresses the importance of #BackingBlackBusiness. Her organization has banked with OneUnited since its inception three years ago. "We’re both very committed to ... deepening the economic power of the black community and really thinking about our collective economic power. Rather than just building individual and familial wealth, also thinking about how we can use our economic power strategically to strengthen the whole of the black community."
Now that is a cause that we can and should get behind.