Friday, April 30, 2010
Hey, Ben Jealous: How much money did Wells Fargo give the NAACP to drop the lawsuit? Was it even worth it?
So, by now you probably know that Wells Fargo was involved in predatory lending practices which specifically targeted people of color. Well in 2007, the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the financial institution for their egregious and albeit racist practice. A practice which has had dire consequences for not only the economy, but for the countless number of people of color caught up in foreclosures. Now of course I'm sure you remember the Tavis Smiley-Wells Fargo connection as we debated that issue when I defended him on this very blog. Yes, and I still defend him to this day; and, I still contend that he was played like a sucker, to reel black customers in. Well, this isn't about Tavis, but to his credit, he has distanced himself from Wells Fargo. Instead, this is about the NAACP's recent decision to drop its lawsuit against Wells Fargo.
So what's the big deal about that you ask? Well, writer/blogger Faye Anderson of the blog Anderson@Large lays out a pretty tough to beat indictment of the NAACP. In her piece she breaks down the new symbiotic relationship forged by both entities. More to the point, the NAACP has dropped the three year old lawsuit, only to turn around and form a partnership with Wells Fargo, who is now the chief sponsor of the upcoming 101st NAACP National Convention!
Now look, I defended Tavis' association because I'm of the belief that he was ignorant to the intent of Wells Fargo, who was also a onetime sponsor of his now defunct State of the Black Union convention. But as far as me defending the NAACP - an institution that I have stood up for in the past - I find it hard to do in this instance. In this instance, the NAACP comes off as suspicious, and questionable, as one of the few women who've accused Ben Roethlisberger of rape. Only difference, is that in this case, there is no reasonable doubt as to the culpability of Wells Fargo.
In this case the only question is, "how many zeros are going to be on the check." More significantly, this is about the one institution that people of color has trusted to be in their corners when it comes to justice - economic, social and otherwise. And this is about them making a decision that they had to know would not be in the best interest of the people for whom they champion and serve. So that said, I beg the question: Is this really how you're about the advancement of colored people NAACP?
Of course not, but I'm just one guy with a blog and lots of opinions. As an organization, I will continue to support and advocate for the NAACP even in the eyes of the toughest critics and cynics out there. But I have to say, this latest episode has left me shaking my head in befuddlement. Now I'm not a street type cat anymore these days as I used to be. But somehow I can't help but to remember one of the well known "hood rules" that cautions: "All money, ain't good money."
Yes, and even people who choose to dance with the devil, even the ones who think long and hard about the choices they make. Even they, at some point, realize fully well, that some things just aren't worth it. It's not worth it because at the end of the day, respect is the most valuable currency one has, and there's no amount of money that can buy it back once you've lost it. But I guess in some cases, you just gotta do what you gotta do, no? I mean, haven't we all sold out at some point in our lives? Or took the proverbial "one for the team?"