Companies like Bank of America are facing demands that they pay reparations for their role in perpetuating the racial wealth gap

Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesActivists are demanding banks and other companies take responsibility for their roles in perpetuating the racial wealth gap.
  • Critics and activists globally continue to demand corporations take accountability for perpetuating ongoing systemic racial inequality.
  • Protests have sprung up around the world since a Minneapolis police officer killed a Black man, George Floyd, during arrest. The unrest was also catalyzed by the coronavirus’ disproportionately disastrous impact on Black communities.
  • Some advocates argue that companies that actively discriminated against Black people and perpetuated economic inequality should pay monetary reparations to the descendants of slaves to help close America’s racial wealth gap.
  • Banks financed the slave trade over a century ago, and in recent years were found to deny loans to would-be Black homeowners and discriminate against Black entrepreneurs, according to an op-ed in The New York Times by leaders at PolicyLink, a nonprofit that researches solutions for economic inequality.
  • “Banks and all corporations must use their outsize power to end systemic racism, move the nation toward racial and economic equity, and drive significant change in policy,” PolicyLink’s Angela Glover Blackwell and Michael McAfee wrote.
  • Some companies are already considering reparations, such as Greene King, the UK’s largest pub chain, whose founder argued against abolition. The company’s chief executive told The Daily Telegraph it would pay a “substantial investment” to the UK’s Black community.
  • Florida-based Uhuru Solidarity Movement has demanded Bank of America pay reparations for its historic role in perpetuating inequality. In 2013, for instance, Bank of America paid $US2.2 million in back pay to Black job applicants after the Department of Labour found evidence of racist hiring practices.
  • “Reparations means repair the damage,” Omali Yeshitela, the chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party, told the Tampa Bay Times. “Reparations has to mean negating the power and influence of banks like this.”

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