PayPal recently pledged to invest $530 million in racial justice and economic opportunity initiatives. As part of that pledge, PayPal just deposited $50 million into a Black owned bank. Optus Bank is headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina. The bank caters to minority and woman-owned businesses and with an extra $50 million in deposits, they can surely do a much better job at that. What the bank likely can’t do, however, is support a Black owned competitor to PayPal.
Peymynt is a Black owned virtual payment system operator and that makes the company a direct competitor to PayPal. In a perfect world, Black owned financial institutions would find ways to partner and find synergies with a startup like Peymynt. In fact, all Black owned companies should look for ways to partner with each other. When Black owned businesses are dependent on funding from outside of the community, however, their loyalties and priorities may have to shift. After all, if Nike sponsors your basketball tournament, you can’t hoop in Reeboks. In the same way, Black companies and nonprofits, if funded from non-Black sources, ultimately have to cater to non-Black interests.
Organizations need to survive and businesses have to make a profit. If Black people don’t step up to fund Black nonprofits, they will have to get the money from non-Black sources. If Black owned banks aren’t getting enough in deposits from Black people, a PayPal will step in to be the savior. If Black nonprofits are more responsive to white donors and if Black banks are beholden to PayPal, it’s only because Black people have failed Black institutions. In such cases, Black institutions aren’t capable of giving everything they have back to Black people. Their inability to do so, however, is rooted in the fact that Black people have not given their all to Black institutions.
HBCUs came into existence in large part because of white dollars. Getting funding from outside of the community isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it should never be the primary source. Black institutions, when not Black funded, may find themselves limited with respect to the ways in which they can respond to the needs and concerns of Black people and businesses. Rather than debate the merits of receiving outside funding, Black people can simply choose to be the primary funder of all things Black.