For Immediate Release
Sept. 7, 2023
Brian M. Maxey
‘We are urging CEOs of major banking institutions to explicitly state their positions on these crucial issues and to reform
their lobbying and litigation tactics’
SAN FRANCISCO – Rise Economy, formerly the California Reinvestment Coalition, alongside 100 national, state and local community, civil rights, tenants’ rights and racial justice nonprofit organizations today submitted letters to CEOs of over 40 U.S. banks urging them to make good on comments made to close racial wealth disparities and invest in traditionally underserved communities following the widespread racial justice protests of 2020.
“It’s been more than three years since bank CEOs made public promises and commitments to address racial wealth disparities. However, these words need to be more than just hollow rhetoric and be transformed into actual truths,” said Rise Economy CEO Paulina Gonzalez-Brito. “As we observe a growing number of actions by bank trade associations that contradict these statements, we are urging CEOs of major banking institutions to explicitly state their positions on these crucial issues and to reform their lobbying and litigation tactics. Bank CEOs during that time talked the talk, now they need to walk the walk.”
The letter specifically highlights the contradictions between the statements and the 2022 lawsuit filed by the American Bankers Association, the Consumer Bankers Association and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau over a policy update meant to combat discrimination in banking. “We find it outrageous that banking trade associations would challenge the CFPB’s efforts to fight discrimination and argue that discrimination is not an unfair and deceptive practice,” the letter reads.
Additionally, the five-page letter — which includes endorsements from Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, the California Public Banking Alliance, the Committee for Better Banks, the Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce and the Woodstock Institute — expresses concern regarding recent actions of banking trade associations that are at odds with public commitments made by heads of banks to anti-discrimination principles, consumer protection, racial and gender equity, and community health and investment. Examples of this include JPMorgan Chase & Co CEO Jamie Dimon, who, in 2020, said “We can do more and do better to break down systems that have propagated racism and widespread economic inequality, especially for Black and Latinx people. It’s long past time that society addresses racial inequities in a more tangible, meaningful way” while announcing a $30 billion pledge to “advance racial equity.” Citibank and Bank of America made similar pledges.
Three years after many of these comments and pledges, the racial wealth gap still persists and has even grown larger by some measures. African Americans have 62 cents to the dollar of white family income in 2021 and, at this rate, it would take 513 years to reach income parity, according to findings in a recent report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition.
The letter also highlights the significant impact that banks can have on BIPOC and low-income communities, both positively and negatively, and urges banking institutions to take meaningful actions toward promoting equity and anti-discrimination principles.
“Banks can and do help nonprofit organizations support communities through affordable housing development, small business creation, and other community development measures. But we’re concerned that they can cause more damage by using their resources to push public policies and lawsuits that undermine anti discrimination, consumer protection, climate defense and other community driven efforts and principles,” said Elba Serrano Shildcrout, Director of Community Wealth and Services at East Los Angeles Community Corporation.
“Banking charters are a privilege. Banks should be working to advance fair lending and anti-discrimination in their lending practices and in their lobbying practices. We are disappointed to see banking organizations sue to stop the section 1071 small business lending rule, to attack the CFPB and to fight anti-discrimination efforts. Addressing disparities that stem from this country’s long history of racism should never be unlawful,” said Eric Payne, Executive Director of The Central Valley Urban Institute.
The letter was sent to the heads of the largest national banks in California, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citibank. In addition, the heads of smaller regional and community banks such as BMO Harris, First Citizens, Mechanics, Tri-Counties, Frost, and Zions banks also received the letter.
Endorsers of the letter include the following organizations:
- AAPI Equity Alliance
- Accion Opportunity Fund
- Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund
- AmPac Business Capital
- Anti-Eviction Mapping Project
- Asian Business Association
- Asian Pacific Islander Small Business Program
- ASIAN, Inc. 美亞輔鄰社
- Beverly-Vermont Community Land Trust
- California Capital Financial Development Corporation
- California Community Land Trust Network
- California Community Economic Development Association
- California FarmLink
- California Public Banking Alliance
- CASA of Oregon
- CDC Small Business Finance
- Center for Community Progress
- CoBiz Richmond, Inc.
- Committee for Better Banks
- Community Economics, Inc.
- Community Housing Council of Fresno
- Community Reinvestment Alliance of Florida
- Community Services Unlimited Inc
- Community Vision Capital and Consulting
- Congregations Organized for Prophetic Engagement, COPE
- Consumer Action
- Consumer Federation of California
- Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety
- Council of Community Housing Organizations
- East Bay Housing Organizations (EBHO)
- East LA Community Corporation
- Economic Action Maryland
- Empire Justice Center
- Esperanza Community Housing
- Extinction Rebellion San Francisco Bay Area
- Fair Finance Watch
- Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California
- Fair Housing Council of the San Fernando Valley
- Faith and Community Empowerment (FACE)
- First Community Capital, Inc.
- Haven Services Inc. dba Haven Neighborhood Services
- Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
- Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County
- Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Greater Cincinnati
- Housing Rights Center
- Inclusive Action for the City
- Inland Equity Community Land Trust
- Koreatown Youth & Community Center
- LISC Bay Area
- Little Tokyo Service Center
- Logan Heights CDC
- Microenterprise Collaborative of Inland Southern California
- Mission Asset Fund
- Mission Economic Development Agency
- Montebello Housing Development Corporation
- Multicultural Real Estate Alliance For Urban Change
- National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders
- National CAPACD- National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
- Native First Lending
- Neighborhood Housing Services of Los Angeles County
- New Jersey Citizen Action
- NHS Inland Empire
- NPHS, Inc.
- Oil & Gas Action Network
- Pacific Community Ventures
- PCR Business Finance
- People for Public Banking Central Coast
- People’s Opportunity Fund
- Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group
- Public Bank Los Angeles
- Public Counsel
- Public Interest Law Project
- Public Justice
- Reinvent South Stockton Coalition
- Revolving Door Project
- Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services
- Sacramento Housing Alliance
- Sacramento Tenants Union
- San Francisco Housing Development Corporation
- San Francisco Public Bank Coalition
- San Gabriel Valley Community Land Trust
- Small Business Majority
- Southern California Black Chamber of Commerce
- Starting Over, Inc.
- TechEquity Collaborative
- Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar la Tierra (T.R.U.S.T. South LA)
- Thai Community Development Center
- The Central Valley Urban Institute
- The Fair Housing Council of San Diego
- The Sacramento Environmental Justice Coalition
- Ventura County Community Development Corporation
- Vermont-Slauson EDC
- Women’s Economic Ventures
- Woodstock Institute
About Rise Economy
Rise Economy, formerly the California Reinvestment Coalition (CRC), is a member-led alliance focused on creating a more equitable society where Black, Indigenous, and People of Color have access to resources and opportunities to build generational wealth. As the largest statewide community reinvestment alliance in the country, Rise Economy advocates for policies and practices that promote racial and economic justice and that address the root causes of inequality, redlining, and systemic racism. Learn more about Rise Economy.