Beneficial State Foundation Perspectives

Our thoughts on changing the banking system for good and building the new economy

Building a popular education movement to take on Wall Street

take on wall street

It’s no secret that Wall Street has profited from harming communities. That’s why Take On Wall Street, a coalition of advocacy organizations, is working to build a financial system that works for working families.

This summer, Beneficial State Foundation invited Take On Wall Street to host a popular education training on finance, race, and gender. In particular, the training examined the impacts of financialization on gender and racial equity in the US. Financialization refers to the ever growing size and political power of financial institutions.

During this interactive, day-long session, we got to hear from bankers, campaigners, and other community leaders, as they spoke about economic justice and empowerment. How do banks and financial institutions perpetuate historical inequities? How has Wall Street strayed from its original purpose to meet credit needs of US communities?

We discussed the different forms of financialization and how they affect our communities. Finally, we talked about the ways Wall Street is hurting communities by driving inequality and wealth extraction. And most importantly, we devised solutions for how our organizations can combat these problems.

Beginning the day with reflection, we demystified examples of how current economic injustices connect back to events in US history. But the training was more than a history lesson. A chunk of the day was dedicated to breaking down what makes a Wall Street reform campaign successful, and sharing lessons learned from losing campaigns. During breakout sessions, groups strategized on how to take matters into their own hands. We proposed ideas that ranged from creating strong and networked power-building partnerships to developing campaign plans for the work ahead.

We didn’t solve all of the world’s problems during this training.  But I feel confident that most participants walked away with a deeper understanding of the problems and opportunities surrounding their work and how interconnecting our campaigns can set up a powerful movement. For example, a more sustainable relationship with Mother Earth could improve our housing markets in a number of ways. And another example: fighting for a fair criminal justice system could stimulate local economies. We have showed in the past and will prove in the future that we are stronger together.

We’re demonstrating just that by partnering on these popular education trainings. Our missions are each strengthened and we reach more people by collaborating: Beneficial State Foundation works to change the banking system for good, and Take On Wall Street to ensure that our financial system works for Black, Brown, white, and all working-class people. We’re already thinking about how to offer these trainings to more people in the coming year. Check out Take On Wall Street to learn more about hosting your own popular education training. And stay tuned for more coming from Beneficial State Foundation!

Diop Harris II is the Campaign and Communications Associate for Americans for Financial Reform.

This blog post reflects the author’s personal views and opinions. It does not represent the views and opinions of Beneficial State Bank and/or Beneficial State Foundation.