Why JPMorgan Chase should donate $ 1 billion to Chicago’s black neighborhoods
In June, investigation by two Chicago newsrooms, the City Bureau and WBEZ, analyzed more than 168,000 bank loans between 2012 and 2018. The team found that for every dollar loaned in Chicago’s white neighborhoods, they only invested 12 cents in the black quarters of the city. These findings reflect a grim truth that many urban affairs researchers have long observed: discrimination in housing may be illegal, but residential segregation and de facto redlining have remained the norm.
The bank with the worst record in Chicago is also the largest in the country, JPMorgan Chase. For every dollar it loaned in white neighborhoods between 2012 and 2018, the bank invested just 2.4 cents in the city’s black communities. In response to these results, Chicagoans have closed bank branches across town, and asked the company to pay for repairs.
Ja’Mal Green, a community activist and 2018 mayoral candidate, mobilized community members and reached hundreds of thousands of people through videos of protests and actions. His demands for change dovetail with a wider movement to hold banks accountable for their history of racist lending and profiting from slavery (JPMorgan’s predecessor, Citizens Bank of Louisiana, secured its advance mortgages through the purchase of thousands of slaves).
The Black Homeownership Rate barely moved since the Fair Housing Act outlawed racial discrimination in 1968, and today the average black family has a net worth of approximately one tenth that of the average white family, a larger gap than it was at the start of this century.
I spoke to Green about community organizing, why banks should pay for repairs, and the possibilities for radical social change right now.
– Daniel Fernandez
We looked at these numbers and where they could have been, and tried to pick a number that would help us build generational wealth, jumpstart the economy, lower the crime rate, and build businesses and owners. .
DF: When you ran for mayor in 2018, you spoke a lot about your growth in Englewood and the impact of poverty and systemic racism on your life and your community. How do these actions against Chase fit into a larger movement to empower historically underserved communities?
JG: This is part of a larger movement of economic advancement, instead of what we are getting, which is economic oppression. And of course the banks are closely linked to what happens with our government’s money. It happens [down] make real investments in our urban communities. They have been left behind for so many years. There is still a war on drugs, but there is no war on poverty. When you have poverty, it is overflowing with a whole bunch of other issues. But the criminal justice system is the only thing they are pushing us towards.
Many of us were brought to America because of capitalism. They brought us here to create the wealth they have now. Just like JPMorgan used slaves as collateral. [Our bodies] were used to create everything in America, but we never reaped the benefits. And so after 1865, when we were freed from the physical chains, they created all these systems that we couldn’t see but that would end up keeping us at the bottom. They put all of these systems in place to make sure people of color in America could never go far enough to be successful in their communities.
DF: WBEZ recently reported that the Chicago and Illinois State Treasurer plans to work with bank executives on how to eliminate systemic racism in the industry and direct more money to black communities in across the state. What do you hope to get out of it?
JG: I think we are in a unique time, where people all over the country are waking up and paying attention. We have the city treasurer, the state treasurer and the cook county treasurer all involved and trying to help us root out racism in the banking industry. These leaders must bring [JPMorgan] Go to the table and say, “We will take you out if you don’t change your policies, if you don’t pay these communities you’ve hurt.” They have this power because they have been channeling money to these banks for so many years. And when you can give Englewood $ 1.7 million in home loans, but give Lincoln Park $ 980 million over the same period, you show you really don’t care. It’s not fair, especially because you have these branches in the same communities that you refuse to invest in, where people keep their money.
DF: In Chicago, you have elected officials who talk about wanting to end systemic racism without necessarily paying reparations. Why is paying for reparations important and why is a commitment to ending systemic racism not enough?
JG: When you talk about these goals, people need to understand that you can’t undo the damage you’ve already done. You can’t wake up one day and say, “I’m going to get better” and not be held responsible. I can’t just commit a crime and say the next day, “I’m not going to commit any more crimes, I turn myself over to Jesus.” They will still hold me responsible for yesterday’s crime.
These banking institutions deprived these people of generational wealth creation and home ownership even when they got the credit rating, even when they got the down payment. You don’t just say tomorrow, “I’m going to change my policies.” This is what Chase is committed to on their call [earlier today], But that’s not enough. It is not enough to say that you will do better now. We need to hold them accountable for paying for repairs. This is the only way to go.
DF: In many ways, what you call the community to adopt–not to put their money in banks that refuse to invest in them and in their community–is an action with deep historical roots. What immediately occurred to me was MLK, right before he was killed, telling the people of Memphis to take money out of the big downtown banks and put it in a local bank headed by Jesse Turner. He called it a “bank in. Because a lot of these requests are decades old, I’m curious how you thought and inspired by past movements?
JG: From the start we have tried to educate black people about the power of their dollar. And what I’m preaching today is that you should always know where your dollar is going because you might be financing your own oppression. Whether it’s a business that disrespects people like you or a bank that doesn’t invest in you, if you put your dollar there – if you give them your dollar – you are funding your own oppression.
If you understand the power of your dollar, you are in control and you can turn that control into power for your community. Leaders from past movements like MLK have preached this, and I want to educate us on the power of our dollar and where it’s going too.
DF: What was the atmosphere of the demonstrations? What have you heard from community members?
JG: So far we have closed eight or nine banks. We don’t get a lot of opposition from the people because the people in those communities understand what Chase is doing. It’s more of a “Finally!” moment. People are educated, they withdraw their money. You see people moving their money and the shareholders looking at the items and selling their stocks. And now Chase wants to come to the table before things get worse.
DF: Were there moments of the demonstrations that marked you?
JG: Lincoln Park. We closed a location there, and what came out was the change of environment. When you step out of this Chase, you have a crime-free community. There were no people selling drugs around the corner, nor people begging for money. You have a community where a lot of people are thriving, and a lot of those people are upper middle class, where they have homes and are integrated into their community.
What i told people about Facebook Live is that this can be our reality. We can have a community without violence, we can have a community where we live, where we have great careers, where we can open businesses, where we can walk our dog and have a good time without worrying about what might happen. . I wanted to give hope to all these communities – and all the people who live in these communities – where there are closed businesses, closed houses, violence, police brutality, just all these problems, and no one. does nothing for it. We want to give people an idea of where we might be if we start to empower these institutions [and get them] to invest in our communities.