Detroit Today: How major financial institutions promote racial inequality

“Detroit Today” spoke with NYT reporter Emily Flitter and Detroit Community Wealth Fund co-founder Margo Dalal on how banks promote racial inequality.

A photo showing a city skyline filled with bank skyscrapers.

Like many institutions in the U.S., banking is interwoven into our country’s history, including the promotion of slavery, housing discrimination and discrimination in the workplace.

However, financial institutions have recently appeared to shift their focus toward the American people.

Sparked by social justice movements in 2020, banks began offering money to restore some kind of equity in the country. JPMorgan Chase committed $30 billion to advance racial equity, Citi put more than $1 billion toward projects to help close the racial wealth gap, and Bank of America directed $300 million to advancing racial equality.

To learn more, Detroit Today spoke with finance reporter Emily Flitter about her new book that describes discrimination in the banking sector, and with Margo Dalal, the co-founder and executive director of the Detroit Community Wealth Fund.

Listen: How large financial institutions promote racial inequality


Emily Flitter is a finance reporter for the New York Times and recently wrote “The White Wall: How Big Finance Bankrupts Black America.” Flitter says large banks have dedicated money toward racial equity, but most of those projects are not actually helping Americans become more equal — they should instead be focusing on helping the country achieve reparations for African Americans.

“There’s just these window dressing type things that have an end date and they have a dollar value, and they’re designed to wow you without really having you look that hard,” says Flitter.

Margo Dalal is the co-founder and executive director of the Detroit Community Wealth Fund, an organization that offers non-extractive loans to support democratic and community-based businesses in Detroit. Dalal says DCWF helps community residents learn to lend.

“We’re not taking people from high-end elite institutions and telling them how to do community financing. We’re actually taking community members and helping them become loan officers so that they can do this work in the community, which I think is also turning the industry on its head,” Dalal explains.

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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.