Seattle’s black community needs its own bank

Seattle’s black community needs its own bank

By BILL VIRGIN, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER COLUMNIST

The high-volume venting in Seattle’s Central District last week wasn’t just about one case of a police shooting, or about the larger issue of the tense police-civilian relations in the neighborhood, or about the yet-larger issue of race relations in Seattle or the nation.

Underlying the charges and recriminations and emotions that surface volcano-like every time there’s an incident is a long-standing uneasy feeling among many African Americans, even those who aren’t signed up in the Aaron Roberts campaign. It’s a sense that blacks are still not gaining the kind of economic clout that generates long-term wealth for the community, that produces upward-mobility jobs, that gives them a seat at the table.

It’s easy enough to dismiss the boycott of the 23rd-and-Jackson Starbucks as ill thought-out and a product of political posturing. It’s certainly the former, and contains an element of the latter. But even if it is the wrong move likely to send the wrong message, such lashing out is a manifestation of that underlying frustration.

So what would generate the kind of economic clout the African American community wants?

One of the boycott’s organizers has in the past coordinated campaigns to get African Americans to spend money in their own neighborhoods at black-owned businesses. That’s a start, but only that. Economic clout comes from nurturing businesses that generate jobs and income.

Those businesses come from having capital.

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