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After Brexit, Blexit: Putting Your Money Where Your Life Is

You’ve heard of Brexit, but how about Blexit?

Brexit’s what the British public voted to do when they felt the European Union wasn’t serving their best interests.

Blexit’s what some Black residents of the Twin Cities have decided to do to free themselves from the city’s white dominated financial institutions.

A week after Philando Castile was murdered by a police officer, residents formed the Association for Black Economic Power. At the time, Minneapolis had no black-led banks or financial institutions, even though it had plenty of black residents. Instead, the banks they had took money out of the black community in charges and fees but put little back even after a criminal history of redlining, foreclosure, and predatory lending.

Now the Village Trust Financial Cooperative, a Black-led credit union, is due to open its doors next year to do things differently.

Meanwhile, a coalition of grassroots and advocacy groups in New York is campaigning for their own sort of exit: from Wall St.

In the heart of the world’s financial capital, The Public Bank NYC coalition is pushing for a municipal public city bank – one owned and operated in the public interest.

They figured out that the pensions of teachers, firefighters, and other government workers amount to a hefty sum – $194 billion – yet only two percent of all that is invested in the economically strapped places where many of those workers live, and only one percent is invested in the public infrastructure on which they depend. The rest goes to private funds, managed by private money managers, who, over a decade, pocketed more than $2 billion in fees.

This June 5, 2018 – the day the city council is scheduled to adopt its $85 billion budget – the Public Bank NYC coalition will be on Wall Street asking the question: what if those billions were deposited in a public bank that served the public interest instead of the private ones like Chase, Citibank, and Bank of America, which serve their far-flung shareholders?

It’s an idea whose time seems to have come: #BankBlack #BankPublic. After years of being told how poor they are, all sorts of people are wising up to the fact that they might be richer than they think, especially if they put their money where their lives are.

You can read more about Blexit at NextCity.org, and learn about Banking For Justice at neweconomynyc.org; or you can listen to or watch an upcoming discussion on the Laura Flanders Show.

 

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Laura Flanders interviews forward-thinking people about the key questions of our time on The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally syndicated radio and television program also available as a podcast. A contributing writer to The Nation, Flanders is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller, BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species.  She is the recipient of a 2019 Izzy Award for excellence in independent journalism, the Pat Mitchell Lifetime Achievement Award for advancing women’s and girls’ visibility in media and a 2020 Lannan Cultural Freedom Fellowship for her reporting and advocacy for public media. lauraflanders.org

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