Minority Communities Excluded, Marginalized from U.S. Banking System

Posted Jan. 21, 2015

MP3 Interview with Mike Leyba, communications director of United for a Fair Economy, conducted by Scott Harris

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As the nation celebrated the holiday honoring the life and work of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. this year, disturbing signs of rising income inequality were evident in a number of important economic indicators. The top one percent of households now owns 42 percent of all wealth in the U.S. As the country is experiencing the highest rate of inequality since the Gilded Age, the middle class is eroding. A recent report found that the majority of U.S. public school students now qualify for subsidized lunch programs, calling attention to the fact that more than 16 million children in America, or roughly one in five, were living in poverty.

In a new report published on this year’s Martin Luther King holiday, the group United for a Fair Economy examined racial disparities in American’s access to banking and financial services. The report, "State of the Dream 2015: Underbanked and Overcharged?" the group's 12th annual MLK Day report found that over one in five minority households are underserved by the banking industry, costing these families more than $3,000 per year in fees and interest just to access their own money.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Mike Leyba, communications director with United for a Fair Economy and principal author of this year’s State of the Dream report. Here, he discusses the findings of the report, which documents the exclusion and marginalization of communities of color from financial services, as well as a set of recommendations that could expand access to affordable banking.

For more information on United for a Fair Economy, visit faireconomy.org.

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