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Davis, California

Thursday, May 23, 2024

Killer Mike opens bank, excited to see what redlining is like from the other side

If white folks like doing it this much, it’s gotta be fun.

“The best way to punish a wicked system within capitalism is to use capital––your dollar,” begins Michael Render, the hip-hop superstar better known as “Killer Mike”. “Show that systemic racism is bad for money, it’s bad for business.”
I nod my head and write notes the best I can, but I’m still in awe that I actually got an interview with Render. The Atlanta native has a long and storied career including collaborating with Big Boi and shout outs by Kendrick Lamar on To Pimp a Butterfly (2015). He currently forms half of the rap duo, Run the Jewels.

As if that wasn’t enough, Render made headlines last month when he announced the launch of Greenwood, a digital-only bank that emphasizes economic justice for Black and Latinx customers and the importance of Black-owned businesses. It’s currently in its investor seed funding phase and preparing for launch. I’m sitting across from the guy and I can barely contain my giddiness. Our interview takes place in Lower Freeborn 081.

I straighten up to ask a question. “Mr. Render––”

“Mike is just fine,” he smiles. I blush.
“Of course. Mr. Mike, could you discuss the importance of redlining in the founding of Greenwood Banking?”

“Of course. Redlining is one way traditional banks have failed minority communities and it’s one of the longest enduring financial threats to people of color.” Render reaches for his mug of tea. “I’ve been a victim of redlining myself with respect to home loans, car loans––necessary steps to socioeconomic equality.”
I nod and write down his words. “Of course,” I reply.

“Which is why I intend to try it out as soon as we get Greenwood up and running.

I drop my pen on the floor. “Wait, uh what?” I ask.

“Oh I just mean I’ll try it out before we decide if it’s right for Greenwood.”

My brow furrows. “W-what do you… mean?”
“Well I have been a victim of redlining for years. And it might feel really nice to do it to…,” he gestures with his hand, “be on the other side of it for once.”

I’m shocked and trying to choke words out. “Why though?”
“Well I realized that no sane person would want to do something so terrible to minorities for literal decades unless there was a really good reason for it.” He smiles an ear to ear grin at me. “So, I figured white people must find it really fun.” He takes a long sip of his tea. “And there is no way I’m going to let them have all the fun to themselves.”
I take off my glasses and nervously run my hands through my hair. “You think… it’ll be fun?”
“Oh yeah! Here,” he says, pulling out a briefcase. “I already made our rejection flyers.” He opens the briefcase and hands me the flyer. It is bright yellow with red lettering that reads “Go F**k Yourself.” Smaller font at the bottom of the page reads “A message from Greenwood.”

He looks at me for my reaction, and I manage a weak smile. “But,” I continue, “Isn’t that not the point of a Black owned bank?”
He blinks at me.

“Like isn’t Greenwood a way for Black and Latinx people to build bank capital and create wealth?”

He coughs. An awkward moment passes.

“You clearly don’t know the point of owning a bank.”

Written by: Matthew Simons –– mrsimons@ucdavis.edu 

(This article is humor and/or satire, and it’s content is purely fictional. The story and or names of “sources” are fictionalized.)


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