Netflix Inc. has pledged to shift as much as $100 million to financial institutions that serve the Black community. Netflix should be applauded for the move, which in some ways was overdo. Indeed, with over $5 billion in cash, it seems appropriate that the streaming giant give some thanks to the Black community: nearly 40% of African American viewers subscribe to Netflix. This news, however, should also serve as an indictment on the larger Black community; 40% of Black folks are subscribed to Netflix but just a small few bank Black.
Netflix will kickoff its giving by shifting $25 million into the Black Economic Development Initiative, a new fund that will invest in Black owned financial institutions. Another $10 million will go to Hope Credit Union. Netflix will also steer 2% of its cash on hand– currently around $5 billion– to financial institutions that directly support Black communities. The move is welcomed, as Black owned banks need the cash. Black owned banks are starved for the cash, however, because Black consumers are still much too eager to deposit their funds into banks that quite literally used slavery to build their wealth. The utter insanity of it is appalling.
JP Morgan Chase has roots extending to two banks in Louisiana that served plantations (read slaveowners). Between 1831 and 1865 they accepted approximately 13,000 slaves as collateral, ultimately owning about 1,250. Two of Bank of America‘s predecessor banks (Boatman Savings Institution and Southern Bank of St. Louis) had slavery ties and another (Bank of Metropolis) accepted slaves as collateral on loans. Direct or indirect ownership of slaves, however, isn’t the end of the matter. Many other banks and financial firms in the North very much profited from slavery and did so gladly. Put simply, the past matters and institutions that benefited from the rape and sale of our grandmothers, isn’t fit for one dime of our money today.
Netflix has done something commendable. Black people should celebrate it mildly, understanding that 40% of Black folks are subscribers, anyway. More importantly, Black people should have enough respect for self to not let Netflix outshine them, at their own institutions. Beyond that, Netflix has its own challenges with diversity, they’re not saints. The ultimate win is building up Black owned streaming platforms, like KweliTV. After all, Black people should never give anyone their money and just hope it works out.