Chase Bank recently came to Boston and set up offices around the area. They organized and internalized what they needed to succeed in this New England area. That includes internalizing the extreme racism of the area.
What is it like to be African American in these United States? We talk about addressing racism and wanting to eliminate it in this country. In fact, most of the people I know could not survive without their wrap of “better than” which helps them get up in the mornings and get through their day.
Keep reading and you will understand the day to day horribleness of being African American in the United States. For this article, in the New England area. Everyone dumps because they need to feel “better than”. After the dumping comes the denials. You – African American Male and/or Female – are not supposed to understand that system. If you do, you should keep your mouth shut because the only thing that will come of speaking up – speaking out – asking for change – demanding change when the ask is ignored and you are being viciously treated, is more horribleness.
Chase, in the deep south, was our bank. We used other banks in New England before Chase moved in and had horrible experiences. We came to Chase because we decided to go where we were known – into the deep south – and open our accounts in that part of the world. We were doing business there so we were able to open bank accounts there.
All of the banking problems we were experiencing in New England stopped when we took our banking business down south. We had a reprieve of a decade or more until Chase Bank decided to open branches in this New England area.
All the problems plus a few more, which initially caused us to take our banking to our old home town, re-surfaced when Chase moved into New England.
This article outlines one of the problems. Articles which follow will outline others – “Banking while Black” should be the title of this series.
Chase Bank, for whatever reason, stopped sending us our monthly corporate bank statements with copies of cancelled checks. That service was supposed to be a normal part of the banking relationship.
They stopped sending us statements for 2 1/2 years.
We called and called and the response was always the same – when you give us a new address that shows you moved, we will start sending your bank statements again.
Being persistent, we went back and forth for months trying to get our corporate bank statements. Finally, we filed a complaint with the Banking Commissioner. They notified Chase of the complaint and told them to send our statements from the month they stopped to the current month.
Chase did the minimum. They sent the statements without copies of the cancelled checks, which we needed for our corporate records. After several calls and another complaint to the Banking Commission we finally received the complete corporate statements which we should have been receiving over the past 2 1/2 years.
We spent lots of time trying to get these statements. We lost a lot. I could go on for another page about the damages, but you can imagine that part. Chase’s response – not even an apology. No one could find a reason as to why this happened. It struck me that we live in a neighborhood which has been redlined for decades. When the persons we spoke to trying to get our statements sent to us all said “when you send us a new address we will start sending your statements again”. That resonated on a very racist level. That is the kind of ‘policy’ which resonates in the deep south, but this is New England.
Of course, the bank person who responded to us first read a statement which said in affect “Chase does not discriminate on any level for any reason.” We laughed about that because it was so ridiculous.
Institutional racism plagues corporate America. To read such a statement and make such a blatant claim and to expect us to believe that was beyond ridiculous. It was mean, evil and meant to maintain institutional racism. If they are so perfect and do not discriminate then anyone who makes a complaint has lost before the ink on the complaint is dry. It is the ultimate denial. It says – to paraphrase – don’t tell us about the claimed discrimination you think you experienced because we will not address it we are perfect in that respect and this statement attests to that fact.
What is institutional racism? One definition is – there is personal racism experienced by minorities from someone white who feels better than. If that person does the discriminating within a bank from the perch of their job it is still personal racism. When a complaint is made and there has been discrimination and the institution backs its employees instead of addressing the discrimination – that makes it racism with the institution responsible – a form of institutional racism. There is more to the definition than that, however, that is one part of it.
That is one incident. There are many more. Too many for your emotions to take in one reading. We will add the rest one at a time as the Bettina Network journal goes out.