We Are Not For Sale–A Response To Wells Fargo’s History Of Corporate Duplicity

Wells Fargo a history of duplicity
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In the following commentary Stephanie Williams, the executive editor of IE Voice and Black Voice News, discusses the "history of duplicity" of Wells Fargo toward Black America.

"All money ain't good money," explained Gabrielle Union on Twitter in 2017. "My self respect, peace & sanity ain't up for sale."

We should adopt that mantra as a community because it speaks to the reality that all money pouring into Black, Brown and other underserved communities is not good money no matter how much is donated or the reasons claimed for such generosity. We should not be for sale in the 21st Century

Our communities should be as discriminating about the donations we accept as we are serious about the long suffering issues of equity we seek to repair.

Corporations have become very adept at making large donations while continuing their discriminatory policies and practices and/or by funding and supporting politicians and political movements that work against the interest of the very communities they claim to support.

American Legislative Exchange Council

Consider the work of the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC. It is a nonprofit organization of conservative state legislators and private sector representatives–there’s nothing wrong with that on its face–however, this organization drafts models of legislation for distribution and adoption by conservative legislatures around the nation and it is pulling America toward extreme nationalism and a clear perversion of capitalism.

On the one hand we can say, ‘Well, there is really nothing wrong with supporting a political ideology–we all have our opinions.’ That is certainly true. However, when those beliefs impinge on the voting rights, the reproductive rights, the choice about who one chooses to love–then it is a problem.

And when corporations like AT&T, Walmart, Johnson and Johnson among others who donate millions of dollars to Black and other minority causes, are at the same time supporting the work of ALEC whose legislation is being adopted in state after state denying the very things these communities are fighting for, it is a problem.

Wells Fargo a history of duplicity

For years Wells Fargo was a dues paying member of this club. It appeared to pivot away from ALEC when it told the Center for Media and Democracy in September 2012 that it had not renewed its membership for the following year, but the following year it sponsored ALEC's 2013 Annual Meeting. It subsequently told Common Cause in November 2014 that it was neither a member or funder of ALEC.

This is just one example of its duplicity. It appears after those findings, and exposure it did cancel its membership. However, that did little to change its duplicitous behavior.

Although Wells Fargo gave up its membership in ALEC nearly a decade ago, its ongoing fiscal and other discriminatory assaults against Black and other underserved communities persists and the financial giant is again under investigation--this time for alleged discriminatory hiring practices.

On Sunday a damning report by the New York Times alleges leaders of America’s third largest bank, Wells Fargo, directed interviews of minorities and people of color be conducted for positions that were already filled as a way of tricking government agencies into believing the corporation was working to meet diversity goals in its hiring practices, never mind the disappointment and stress their actions had on those who sat through those interviews.

If the allegations are proven true, it is just one more example of how Wells Fargo will go to any lengths to maintain an illusion of inclusion and diversity and promote itself as a pillar of commitment to equity when its deeds prove the opposite is true.

Media outlets (and we are all guilty) continue to hype what has proven to be Wells Fargo’s feigned commitment to Black and other communities of color only to learn that as the company gives with one hand, it takes much more than it gives with the other, as demonstrated again and again. Here is a sampling of headlines in recent years to dramatize this point.

Wells Fargo Giveth

Wells Fargo Awards $13.5M Grant to the Expanding Black Business Credit Initiative; Wells Fargo Awards $3.3 Million to Thurgood Marshall College Fund;Wells Fargo Invests in Six Black-Owned Banks; Wells Fargo Invests in Five Additional Black-Owned Banks; Wells Fargo awards millions to foster inclusive recovery for diverse businesses; Wells Fargo, who preyed on black borrowers, sponsors Black Lives Matter luncheon; Wells Fargo Donates $400 Million to Nonprofits That Serve Black- and Minority-Owned Businesses.

Wells Fargo Taketh Away

US government fines Wells Fargo $3 billion for its 'staggering' fake-accounts scandal; Wells Fargo accused of preying on Black and Latino homebuyers in California; Wells Fargo Gets Into Trouble Yet Again Over Alleged Fraud; Wells Fargo Rejected Half Its Black Applicants in Mortgage Refinancing Boom; Wells Fargo Agrees to Pay $3 Billion to Resolve Criminal and Civil Investigations into Sales Practices Involving the Opening of Millions of Accounts without Customer Authorization; Wells Fargo to pay $175 million in race discrimination probe; Wells Fargo drops after report it may face new sanctions over pace of restitution.

To continue accepting grants/donations from corporations like Wells Fargo and other mega corporations who give millions while making billions supporting legislation and other issues that work against the interest of Black, Brown and other low income is working against our own interest and perpetuating a cycle of inequity.

These corporations are predators and their behaviors become even more grotesque when you consider the millions if not billions in lost opportunities these communities continue to endure because they entrust their meager earnings to institutions or do business with corporations that abuse their loyalty and trust without consideration or afterthought.

We know what we know about their deception and what it continues to cost us in terms of intergenerational wealth. I wonder what corporations like Wells Fargo continue to pilfer that we don’t know about?

We would never celebrate a heroin dealer who addicts our community and then makes donations to local rehab facilities while they quietly support legislation to arrest and imprison the drug users (or would we)? And yet, we tolerate and even celebrate actions that are equally damaging by corporations.

We should begin thinking of their money as dirty money and say no to their donations. We should not allow them to soothe their public souls at the expense of ours. If we truly believe we are free, if we are adamant that we are not for sale, then we should stop taking their donations, and stop patronizing their businesses. We have choices. Let us choose the path of right action. There is power in our dollars.

Of course this is just my opinion. I’m keeping it real.

Stephanie Williams is executive editor of the IE Voice and Black Voice News. A longtime champion for civil rights and justice in all its forms, she is also an advocate for government transparency and committed to ferreting out and exposing government corruption. Stephanie has received awards for her investigative reporting and for her weekly column, Keeping it Real. Contact Stephanie with tips, comments. or concerns at myopinion@ievoice.com.

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