Thursday, March 26, 2009
Roland Martin of CNN interviews Ben Jealous about the NAACP's Lawsuit
Roland Martin, political correspondent for CNN and The Tom Joyner Morning Show, interviewed NAACP's CEO Ben Jealous about the law suit against Wells Fargo and several other banks for institutionalized racism. Mr. Jealous addressed the records that banks must make public about their lending ratios. Jealous stated that many of the blacks applicants were put in subprime loans that actually qualified for conventional loans. Jealous also stated that African American were targeted specifically for this type of discriminatory practices.
I read the lawsuit several times prior to my posting several weeks ago but I thought it would be interesting to pull out several key points of the lawsuit to further expand on my original post.
The suit states:
5. Wells Faro Bank, N.A. and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc target the African American community by capitalizing on their relative lack of experience in dealing with banking institutions and mortgage loans. Upon information and belief, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. and Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Inc. are aware of the African American Community's susceptibility to predatory lending practices, but nonetheless engage in policies and procedures that they know will result in African Americans being steered toward less favorable loans.
6. Indeed, in 2006, the Center for Responsible Lending, a non-profit research organization, found that even when income and credit risk were accounted for, African American were still 31% to 34% more likely to receive higher rate subprime loans, and that the disparities between them and Caucasians with the same risk factors were "large and statistically significant."
These particular points intrigued me more so than others in light of recent charge to hold folks accountable by Tavis Smiley. Again this is not a personal attack of Tavis, only a charge to him to do his research and get back to the community that he often admonishes to educate ourselves on the issues, to know all the facts, and to dig deeper in our pursuit of being empowered.
Section 11. states The NAACP brings this class action lawsuit seeking declaratory and injuctive relief based upon the Fair Housing Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, and the Civil Rights Act.
According to the NAACP's research, along with several other independent organizations, black folks have been targeted by Wells Fargo because the bank knows most blacks are easier prey for predatory lending practices. Knowledge is power. Nothing teaches you more than to be educated not only about how to achieve the American dream of home ownership but also not to be fleeced while trying to achieve that dream.
What is even more disturbing is that the poor and uneducated were not the only victims of the lending practices of Wells Fargo. Black folks, who qualified with their credit and income, were ripe for the picking as well. Wells Fargo did not have any preferences. If they were black, they more than likely were charged higher fees than their counter part, according to the NAACP's lawsuit.
When we see the name of Wells Fargo as the title sponsor of a Black think tank event, one would naturally assume that this bank is above reproach and is an advocate for the people that attend these type of functions. With all of the "leaders" of the community flanked on stage trying to show their love for the people by screaming about the injustices committed by the Bush administration and holding the present administration accountable for deeds not yet committed, one would hope they would have addressed predatory lending practices as one of the main issues that hold the community of color back. These same confessors of love for color folks and the need to empower the masses were flown in, housed, and wine and dined by a Bank that is being alleged to have committed the same type of injustices committed by President Bush. This hypocrisy is seen all the time in the community of color and rarely, if ever, challenged. To challenge this type of influence peddling, pimping the poor and misinformed in my book, would be considered attacking, and God knows we would not want to speak the truth and get it confused with attacking.
After posting about this two weeks ago, I am glad to see that this subject matter was addressed on Black radio. Thank you, Roland Martin. Wells Fargo name was mentioned several times but it was not the only bank guilty of these allegations Mr. Jealous said. There are fourteen total but Wells Fargo has committed more violations that any of the other banks. Could that be because it was marketed directly to thousands of blacks folks being charged to hold others "Accountable"?
I suggest that everyone take a minute or two and read the lawsuit at www.naacp.org.
Wells Fargo's rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal can be read @
Roland's interview with Jealous:
Tavis has not issued a statement as of yet. Stay tuned.