Racism and white supremacy are not just social issues or political issues; they're also economic issues.
As the white nationalist movement continues to rear its ugly head, companies are distancing themselves from their racist beliefs by severing ties with these organizations and blocking white nationalist groups from using their services.
A prime example is Airbnb, which recently deleted the accounts of people looking for places to stay while planning trips to attend the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that took place last weekend.
Following the violent, deadly events that unfolded on Saturday, more companies are doing the same, including TIKI Brand, which denounced the use of its torches being used on Friday night during a white nationalist march that preceded Saturday’s big rally.
However, on Wednesday, the civil rights group Color of Change launched the new Blood Money website, targeting major credit card companies for processing funds for hate groups and white nationalist organizations.
The movement calls out Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express along with PayPal and Apple Pay.
“Without the financial services provided by companies like Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express, the terrorism and violence we saw in Charlottesville would not have happened,” said Rashad Robinson, executive director of Color of Change, in a statement.
Apparently, the companies receive a portion of money donated to these various organizations, and between 2014 and 2015, less than 20 of the most infamous hate groups raised more than $20 million in donations, sales, and grants. Of that, credit card companies receive between 1.4 and 3.5 percent of the funds, according to Color of Change.
Color of Change argues that the profit the companies get from these transactions is practically chump change to their multi-billion dollar empires, and therefore, they should have no issue refusing to accept white supremacists' “blood money.”
“White supremacists need money to pay for events like ‘Unite the Right’ and to maintain propaganda websites likes [sic] the ones that inspired terrorists Dylann Roof and Timothy McVeigh,” Robinson explained in his statement.
“For months, we’ve been urging these companies to do the right thing and stop providing financial services for white supremacist groups," he continued. "But, so far, they are making a conscious choice to let their products provide the financial fuel that makes white supremacist terrorism possible. They are making hundreds of thousands of dollars from processing fees for these racist groups and quite literally profiting off hate and murder.”
Robinson did offer some credit to PayPal, which has cooperated with their efforts and dropped white supremacist websites, including that of Jason Kessler — the main organizer of “Unite the Right.”
“We’ve been working directly with PayPal for months to cut off a number of hate groups that they allowed for years to generate revenue using their platform,” said Robinson. “We appreciate the company’s willingness to take [a] stand against violent racist extremism after months of pressure, and we hope to push them further.”
Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned from President Donald Trump’s advisory board under the mounting pressure of losing riders and drivers, and Nordstrom pulled Ivanka Trump’s fashion brand from its stores.
Under the surface, it’s still incredibly troubling that the fear of losing business is, quite literally, the only thing that motivates these companies to take a stand; however, if flexing our consumer power is the most effective strategy we have to cripple the rise of white supremacy, then so be it.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons, Maxpayne473