There has been conflicting stories surrounding the detainment of rapper Blac Youngsta. On Friday, January 8, 2016, the Memphis native, whose government name is Sammie Benson, was detained after withdrawing $200,000 from a Wells Fargo on Peachtree Rd. in Atlanta, GA. Benson stated that he had withdrawn the money to purchase a luxurious vehicle and was shocked when Atlanta Police apprehended him with guns drawn in the parking lot. Blac Youngsta was seized, according to the police, because he “fit” the description of the suspect that endeavored to cash a fraudulent check for $24,000 moments before. The actual suspect, Charles Darnell, age 39, was later arrested on first degree forgery charges.
Following all the adverse attention surrounding the wrongful detainment, Wells Fargo released a statement stating that, “Mr. Benson is not an account holder with us. He did not enter our store nor did he make any withdrawals.” On Wednesday, January 13, 2016, Benson took to his personal Instagram account to address Wells Fargo’s accusations. The rapper posted a picture of a letter that appeared to be from Wells Fargo. The letter stated, “Dear Sammie M. Benson: We are writing you to let you know that we have begun the process of closing your account(s) because of a business decision to end you deposit account relationship with Wells Fargo. Monetary transactions on the account(s) are blocked and the card(s) linked to the account(s) is deactivated.”
Comments were left under the post regarding the authenticity of the letter. Some commented stating that the letter looked forged while others felt that it was a legitimate document and that they would no longer do business with Wells Fargo. If you are curious and would like to decide for yourself, click here. That same day, Benson posted a picture with an employee from Bank of America with the caption, “Taking my talents to Bank of America.”
Was this 25 year old rapper racially profiled due to the “limiting and conflicting” description of the suspect or was it just a coincidence that he was at the bank at the same time before the attempt to cash a fraudulent check? How would black-owned banks and communities be affected if Benson chose to bank with them?
Regardless of the veracity of the allegations made by both sides in this incident, attention should be given to the fact that according to Urban Intellectuals in 2013 there were 21 black-owned banks in the country. It was stated that, “these 21 banks have total assets of approximately $4.7 billion dollars. This is a measly 0.43 percent of the $1.1 trillion dollars of annual spending power of the African American community. That’s right, we have over a trillion dollars in spending annually, but only keep $4.7 billion dollars of this in Black Owned Banks” (Furious, 2013). Interesting, right? Since then updated sources have shown that 2 of the 21 banks have closed due to, “lack of support and/or understanding the significance of having African American owned banks in the community” (Taylor, 2015).
The spending power of African Americans is a game changer and how would banks and our communities differ if we supported banks that were black-owned? If African Americans charged themselves with the idea to #SpendDifferent, do you think the same disputed allegations faced by rapper Blac Youngsta would have occurred at a black-owned bank?
For those African Americans in the Atlanta area who are conscious consumers Citizens Trust Bank is a black-owned bank available for us to #SpendDifferent.