Since 2016, the movement to #shopblack and support black businesses has inspired the creation of several businesses, community organizations, listings, registries, and now, a new type of black-owned bank. 

Killer Mike, Andrew Young, and Ryan Glover have launched Greenwood, an online bank named after the 1921 community where black businesses and entrepreneurs once thrived. 

In an interview promoting the new venture, Killer Mike spoke about the importance of black barbershops in the black community. He made the point that big banks don’t understand that black men get their hair cut every single week as opposed to once a month. This also means they may not understand how much commerce comes through those shops every week. His point stood out to me:

In order to understand black wealth, you have to understand black culture.

It has been historically proven that African Americans procure only 15% of all loans and capital to operate businesses. For several years, big banks have denied black entrepreneurs and business owners working capital because they misunderstand or fail to find value in our ideas and potential. 

This, it seems, is just one of the reasons why Greenwood was created; to become a place through which black businesses, black entrepreneurs, and black communities can build a new economy. 

In a conversation with Killer Mike, former Atlanta Mayor Andrew Young mentions that Greenwood was “one of the most brilliant centers of brain and money.” It was proof that “black people have the talent, the skills, and the energy to compete anywhere in the world.” He goes on to say “if we can get together and develop those talents and market skills, we can be competitive with anybody anywhere on the planet.” 

While this isn’t a new concept, it is invoking new opportunities for black investors, millionaires, artists, and entrepreneurs to put their money towards new solutions and foundations for the black community.  

Killer Mike mentions this bank is not just for black people. It’s for people who want to bank local, bank regional, and bank with people who care about you. It’s for people who want to bank with people who will put money into genuinely,  brilliant businesses that can make a difference for the larger economy. 

We understand each other the way no one else understands us. We know our likes and dislikes as a community, we know our needs, we know our habits and our culture like no one else. We are financing and creating new spaces for black people  — and if other cultures and ethnicities want to join us in that effort, we welcome them.

The #shopblack and #bankblack movements are not about supporting black businesses just for the sake of supporting them; from the sentiments of Andrew Young, these movements are calling us to create an economy that works for us as a new paradigm for ourselves and future generations. 

“The work we did in the civil rights movement wasn’t just about being able to sit at the counter. It was also about being able to own the restaurant.” – Andrew Young

What will it look like to resurrect and reimagine a new black Wall Street? What will it look like for the black community to come together for the sake of creating safe spaces where we thrive? What will America look like when we begin to shift our thinking from “support” to “create?”

The more we come together under one mission, the faster we create a new economy, as opposed to simply living within the one currently given to us.

This is what black wealth is about. This is what Greenwood is about. This is what Spendefy is about. 

#ShopBlack is a call to distribute black wealth within the black community; because black wealth belongs to us. Hopefully, Greenwood is just another piece of the puzzle pushing us forward.