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The Financial Activist Playbook for Supporting Black Lives



John Lewis Fellow Jasmine Rashid writes about the complicity of financial systems in the United States in exploiting black people and how activists can learn to avoid supporting these systems.

In the article, Jasmine introduces a 3 Step Guide on how people can begin to recognize how their money perpetuates systemic inequalities and start using it to support Black communities.

Here are the three steps which Jasmine outlines (summarized below) on how individuals can start using their money to support black communities:

Step 1: Know the Enemy

In the first step, Know the Enemy, Jasmine writes that you should be asking yourselves the following questions:

  • Who around me is profiting from the continued devaluation of Black lives?
  • Who is taking economic advantage of Black pain, and am I supporting them?

Jasmine writes that income inequalities and racial disparities continue in Black communities because it is still profitable to some individuals in the United States to take advantage of financial situations which disadvantage Black communities. Typically financial looting of Black communities can look like the following:

  • Wealth hoarders reaping tax benefits of programs designed to help small businesses.
  • Investment Firms Capitalizing on real estate which funds gentrification and upheaval of historically Black communities.
  • Big Banks which fund mass incarceration, environmental damage in Black communities and are involved in predatory lending practices to Black business and homeowners.
  • Private Prison operators and ancillary companies whose business models rely on people being locked up.

Step 2: Know your Allies

The second step of Jasmine’s guide begs that you ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my position in the racial equity movement and personal scope of influence?
  • Who are my people and potential co-conspirators I can build with?

People should determine which part of the social change ecosystem they are and where their network falls in the system. That way, a system of accountability is built and maintained. Within Jasmine’s own network, she sees herself as a Builder and her friend Nigeria as a  Visionary.

Step 3: Know your Power

Finally, in Step 3, Jasmine lays out eight strategies for building a plan that helps you understand the power that your money has.

  1. Own your Tax-Payer Status: Make sure your representatives are listening to the reforms that Black people are calling for.
  2. Breakup with your Bank: Switch to Black-owned banks or a bank which is invested in Black wellbeing.
  3. Buy Black: Support Black businesses by buying from them.
  4. Divest: Screen out companies that cause harm to Black communities.
  5. Own your Shareholder Status: Lead or participate in filing shareholder proposals for  companies whose policies do not prioritize Black wellbeing.
  6. Donate: Donate to organizations that support Black communities.
  7. Invest: Seek out companies and funds that empower Black communities for your investment portfolio.
  8. More than Money: Participate in and share financial education daily.

Read the full guide here to learn more about how you can use your money to support black communities.

Updated April 2022