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Banking Apartheid, Debt Slavery, and Financial Lynching: Why People Riot

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Without Finacial Justice for the Black Community How Can There Be Peace?
Without Finacial Justice for the Black Community How Can There Be Peace?
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We have to reflect on what MLK Jr. said: That a riot is the language of the unheard. Peaceful protests and riots are both valuable. Both lend different forms of agency to oppressed groups, and we have no right to dictate to them how to voice discontent when we haven't been listening in the first place.

Kimberly Latrice Jones, an African American author and screenwriter, was out filming anti-racism and anti-police brutality protests when she explained why the focus in all discussions on the rioting in the protests was wrong. We should not focus on the what they are doing, she said, but the why they are doing it:

"Let's ask ourselves why in this country in 2020, why the financial gap between poor Blacks and the rest of the world is at such a distance that people feel their only hope and only opportunity to get some of the things that we flaunt and flash in front of them all the time is to walk through a broken glass window and get it." Jones continued: "Why are people that poor? Why are people that broke? Why are people that food insecure, clothing insecure that they feel their only shot is walking through a broken glass window and getting it?"

No doubt, that is the important question. Blacks live in an economic pressure cooker. Economists churn out cold statistics telling a tale of disparity between white and black median household net worth. The median household net worth for white families is $171,000, while for black families it is only $17,000. But how did this happen? It was no accident. This is a tale of financial lynching.

Home ownership is the key to amassing wealth in any community including the Black Community. Not only can homeowners eventually reduce their housing costs, but they can also pass on a considerable amount of capital to their children. Then their children will have a substantial down payment for a house themselves with easy to manage mortgage payments. Instead the bankers and real estate agents successfully subverted any and all government programs to help the black community achieve home ownership, and the government regulators are complicit by turning a blind eye to their tactics.

How Financing Replaced the Rope

The biggest shock I got in my first years as a lawyer came with the realization that there were people who could make money on the backs of the poor. Even if a poor person had saved only $100, they knew how to grab it and put the person in a lifetime of debt slavery. And these predators were not limited to small cons, they were an intricate part of the dirtiest market of all, the housing mortgage market. The predatory practices in payday loan companies pale in comparison to those in the real estate and mortgage lending businesses. There they grab a lifetime of poor people's life savings. These financial vultures specialize in perverting government programs designed to help the disadvantaged. They skim off the benefits leaving the intended beneficiaries destitute, and society blames the poor for the failure of government-sponsored housing programs with a "you just can't help these people".

What I'm about to relate here applies to all those in the lower economic class, but 10 times over to African Americans.

The 2008 Cover Up

The 2008 crisis gives us a window into bankers destroyed the financial future of the Black Community and how the powerful banking lobby covered it up so the bankers could do it again. Many commentators have exposed the racism in redlining, but there were far more destructive practices in mortgage lending that continued long after redlining was sidelined.

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Jan D. Weir is a lawyer who has advised international corporations, banks and accounting firms. He has taught business law at the University of Toronto, and is the co-author of The Critical Concepts of Canadian Business Law (6e) Pearson. Follow him for updates on laws that affect inequality  (more...)
 

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