OneUnited Bank's CEO Kevin Cohee Talks #BlackoutDay2020 and Banking Black
Blackout Day 2020 is here and now more than ever we as a community need to understand the importance of our dollar. On July 7th, Black people and their supporters will be protesting with their wallets. On this day, no dollar will be spent outside of Black-owned businesses.
As our quest for knowledge and equality continues, the next conversation that needs to be had is how can we strengthen our community? One company that is striving to empower and raise awareness is OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank. Since its inception, its goal has been to educate and empower the Black community. With over 2 million supporters uniting for the mission of economic solidarity to fight systemic racism, they have made it clear that it's a new day! Elected officials, corporations and organizations are addressing systemic racism at all levels...from the boardroom to senior management, staffing, policies, and brand names. We've made it clear that we will no longer tolerate injustice and inequality
With the attention of the majority, there has been a major shift in addressing systemic racism. OneUnited Bank is designed to garner the economic spending power of Black America and utilize that power to help empower our people. As a new member of the OneUnited Bank family, I was honored to speak to their CEO Kevin Cohee about the importance of banking Black and what we all can do to empower our community.
Why is it important for us all to participate in #BlackOutDay2020?
That day is about understanding and controlling economic spending power. The goal is to steer the dollars we spend into Black businesses. It'll have a significant impact on the economic well being of Black Americans. If we can steer money away from or to corporations that do things that are positive for the community, we can also help to effect change. One type of "economic activism" is being able to get our people to a place where we can affect corporations and governmental entities to get them to do the things that are necessary for us as a people to be successful. The next step is for institutions like OneUnited Bank to step up and help educate our people on where we are in the struggle. We have to start the process of using our newfound organization to effect change. Once they realize how much our dollar truly matters, then conversations will be had in the boardroom about how they can better serve our needs.
What does "Black People have $1.2 trillion dollars in economic spending power" actually mean?
It means that we spend $1.2 trillion a year on all kinds of goods and services. If you look at the number of purchases we make, there are hundreds of millions of dollars a month we spend. We have very significant amounts of money running through our hands that we haven't mastered the art of financial literacy yet. That is another kind of thing that OneUnited Bank is very involved in. We haven't built net worth the way that we need to build a network.
How does "Banking Black" help the Black community?
Money is a very powerful thing. It is powerful in how you spend it and is also powerful in the way you don't spend it. As a people, we have significant buying power ourselves. If Black people decided they weren't going to buy Big Macs anymore, that would be something that would get McDonald's attention. It then puts you in a position to be able to engage in discussions about things like; why don't you have any Black people on your board of directors? Why are there no Black people with your senior management team? What kind of programs do you have for developing your Black employees so that they could grow into more significant positions? What kind of outreach efforts do you have in Black communities where they are buying a lot of Big Macs? What are you putting back into the community?
What do you think is the responsibility of corporations during this time?
Our responsibility is to be agents of change and to provide community support. It's taking on the responsibility of educating Black Americans about the importance of starting with that one transaction.