Why are Mona and Amir Blue…and Other Important Questions! (Q&A Series)
In case you missed our #BankBlack Live event where we answered your questions about OneUnited Bank and the #BankBlack Movement, we will be answering your questions in a series of blog articles. The first of the Q&A series is here.
Here is the second of the Q&A series.
#1. Why are Mona and Amir on the Visa debit cards blue?
OneUnited Bank commissioned a mural and paintings by the internationally acclaimed artist Addonis Parker beginning in 2015. The mural, Thunder & Enlightening, was unveiled on our Miami branch on July 7, 2015. “Mona” was unveiled as part of a trilogy and is currently in our Crenshaw branch in Los Angeles. “Amir” was unveiled at our #BankBlack event in Miami in July 2016. The artist used his creative license to illustrate the progress and challenges facing Black people. He used blue to address issues related to colorism in our community. Colorism, a term coined by Alice Walker, means discrimination in which people are treated differently based on the color of their skin. He was addressing the power of racism as it is associated with skin color.
The mural and paintings have been well received, and based on this positive feedback, we decided to put the “power” of the paintings in your hands on the Mona Visa Debit Card and Amir Visa Debit Card.
#2. Isn’t Bank Black discriminatory? What if I said Bank White?
OneUnited Bank serves everyone and needs everyone’s support, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, etc. We say #BankBlack to encourage Black people and allies of the Black community to move their money to Black owned banks and also “move their mind” or change their mindset to support Black owned businesses. So, to not only #BankBlack, but also #BuyBlack. Black owned banks are more likely to lend to Black people and Black owned businesses are more likely to hire Black people, have offices and provide services in Black and low-to-moderate income communities. By circulating more dollars in the Black community and practicing collective economics, we can create more jobs and build wealth.
There are over 3,000 banks in America and less than 200 are minority owned and only 22 are Black owned or managed banks. We say #BankBlack and that we’re the largest Black owned bank to show that we can overcome the historical challenges that the Black community has faced with financial institutions including redlining, subprime loans, robo-signing foreclosures and other predatory practices. We hope to rebuild trust and be a source of pride. As a customer of OneUnited, you are helping us overcome this history and your support – as a Black person or an ally – is important.
In celebration of Black History month in 2017, we teamed up with #BlackLivesMatter to introduce the Amir Visa Debit Card to organize the $1.2 trillion in annual spending power of the Black community, generate donations to #BlackLivesMatter and because we believe social and economic justice are intertwined. Yes, we agree that all lives matter…which means Black lives matter.
#3. While refinancing with another bank I was asked my race. The loan officer said “I’ll put white.” Does race matter during YOUR loan process?
No, race does not matter in our loan decisions. We are an Equal Housing Lender.
However, by law and regulation, all banks are required to ask specific questions for home-purchase loans and refinancing transactions related to Government Monitoring Information or GMI. These are questions that Banks must ask, but you can voluntarily answer or decline to answer. They include your age, gender, marital status, and race or national origin. Even if you are sitting with a lender and your race or gender seems obvious, the lender must ask GMI questions. The purpose of these questions is to help federal regulators detect mortgage lending discrimination.
#4. Will you guys provide financial literacy to the community?
Yes, we already do provide financial literacy. For many years, we have held a financial literacy essay contest for youth called the “I Got Bank” Financial Literacy Essay Contest. Youth ages of 8-12 can win a $1,000 savings account. This contest begins in March and essays are due by June 15th.
We also provide a “How to Rebuild Credit” Program to educate everyone on steps to take to build or rebuild credit. We offer “Summer School” in our branches where we hold free financial literacy workshops. We hold Facebook Live events to share financial information, such as our annual Money on My Mind event with the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA). We worked closely with AAFCA and BMe Community on a Smart Money Video Series to teach financial literacy in a new and fun way.
We teach financial literacy workshops in schools and in partnership with organizations such as the Urban League and the NAACP. We seek to expand our financial literacy programs with more online events and program in the future.
#5. If you have been around for 50 years, how come I never heard of you? Is this a scam?
No, this is not a scam. OneUnited Bank is an FDIC insured financial institution that is also Black owned.
OneUnited Bank began almost 50 years ago with the opening of Unity Bank & Trust in Boston, Massachusetts and ultimately Boston Bank of Commerce in 1982. OneUnited Bank was established by combining Black owned banks across the country – Founders National Bank of Commerce in Los Angeles, Family Savings Bank in Los Angeles, Peoples National Bank of Commerce in Miami and Boston Bank of Commerce – with the same mission, to create an institution to garner our spending power and channel it back into the communities we serve. Once these four Black owned banks were combined, we changed our name to OneUnited Bank to represent our mission to promote unity.
We have a large social media presence with over 100,000 followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, which may be how you are learning more about us now. Please share us with family and friends.
Stay tuned for more blog articles where we will answer more of your questions. Hope this has been helpful!