If you have a bank account and care about racial justice, you can be a financial activist.
“Money-Wise Women” guest Ebony Perkins is the investor and community relations manager of the Self-Help Credit Union which was founded in 1980 to help employees in rural North Carolina’s farm worker cooperatives gain ownership of local mills that were being shut down. By choosing to be a credit union, they were making an important decision: not to have owners in the traditional sense. Which means that profits are reinvested for member benefit, ensuring lower rates on lending and higher rates on member deposits.
Self-Help Credit Union has evolved to serve some of the most financially disenfranchised populations. Their loans have gone to people of color (61%), women (40%), rural residents, and low-income families (82%). Their services became even more crucial since the coronavirus hit. Since April 1, 2020, they have made 1,300 loans totaling over $164 million. Over half of those loans were made to nonprofits and businesses owned or led by people of color, helping preserve over 18,000 jobs.
Move your money into Self-Help’s Community Recovery Initiative and encourage racial justice by building and circulating economic resources in communities of color. By opening a Community Recovery Term Certificate or a Self-Help Money Market Account, your deposits are supporting low-income and minority communities experiencing the economic effects of COVID-19 and systemic racism.
Economic violence against people of color has been traumatizing around the world and especially acute for African Americans in the last few months. According to April 2020 U.S. Labor Department data, only 48.8% of Black adults were employed, a historical low that is significantly worse than the national average. There’s a saying,“When America gets a cold, Black America gets the flu.” The Black community has been hit the hardest by the coronavirus; two out of five Black small businesses and self-employed workers have been forced to cease operations during the pandemic—well over twice the rate of White businesses. Black Americans earn less than they did in 2000 and are disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change, and many have been suffering without health insurance or secure housing.
Why do African American households have one-tenth the wealth that White households do? It’s more than pay inequity; it’s generations of redlining, systemic racism, and mass incarceration.
Ebony says, “If our goal is to achieve environmental and economic justice, we need to prepare for tomorrow by investing today in the communities that are most vulnerable to the shocks and stresses of climate change and most impacted by the burdens of pollution.”
By switching your support from the big, for-profit banks, to a credit union such as Self-Help, you can help create greater resilience. And you wouldn’t be alone. Since the 2011 “Move Your Money” campaign, more than $400 billion of consumer deposits have been moved from for-profit banks to not-for-profit credit unions. Imagine what could happen if businesses moved their accounts to credit unions.
Racial justice is multifaceted, and where we save our money—whether $10 or $10,000—provides a powerful statement about what restorative and reparative actions we want to support.
Ebony Perkins is a social entrepreneur whose heartbeat is community. As the investor and community relations manager at the Self-Help Credit Union, Ebony helps groups and individuals invest funds in a mission-aligned financial institution that supports underserved communities. Before that role, she served as the Donor Relations Manager at Central Carolina Community Foundation, where she managed a system to engage and educate over four hundred individuals and groups to help them achieve their charitable goals.
Ebony’s commitment to investing in the community is evident by her service and contributions to Women In Philanthropy, Durham Center for Senior Life, University of North Carolina MPA Alumni Board, Association of Black Foundation Executives, Friends of African American Arts and Culture, and Columbia College as a mentor.
Ebony holds a master of public administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a bachelor of science in marketing from Claflin University. She also has an executive certificate in financial planning from Duke University. She wrote “Plan for Tomorrow by Supporting Vulnerable Communities Today,” in the “Community Impact Investing” issue of GreenMoney journal. In October, she was named a recipient of the “30 Under 30 Award” at the 2019 Socially Responsible Investing Conference.