First we had Russell Simons endorsing the Rush Card and now we have Montel Williams endorsing payday loans. Are we ever going to arrive at the day when Black celebrities decide that it is not okay to promote these predatory business models to vulnerable members of society?
According to the MoneyMutual website:
Montel Williams has endorsed MoneyMutual because it provides needed short term cash loans to people who have no other credit alternatives. Montel takes pride in being able to provide people with information which could help them to live better physically, spiritually, financially, and emotionally. When it comes to financial assistance, Montel understands that people will find unexpected and needed expenses from time to time that are difficult to pay for due to lack of funds or credit. Rather than bounce a check, or receive late payment penalties, Montel believes that a short term cash loan from MoneyMutual can provide the necessary immediate assistance and help avoid more costly fees. According to Williams, "MoneyMutual's online lending network is the only source you can trust for finding a short term cash loan quickly and easily." MoneyMutual allows people to receive instant approval on getting a cash loan of up to $1,000. Restrictions do apply. See Moneymutual.com for details.
Black blogs continually speak about the racism that we face, but what happens when the face of the oppressor is brown like yours? Montel exists with extreme class privilege and he will never have to access the very loans that he is busy peddling to an unsuspecting public.
These companies are little more than legalized loan sharking. They often charge an exorbitant rate of interest and get away with this because the people turning to their services have often be denied other avenues of credit. To be clear, though we continually preach the Calvinist work ethic to the poor, the truth of the matter is that this economy runs on credit. Rather than increasing real wages to keep up with the increasing cost of living, credit has been offered to the working poor to help finance day to day expenses. Big Business has worked in partnership with Big Banks and other financing firms to ensure that the culture of debt has become normative. Most American Households have an average of 10 thousand dollars in credit card debt alone.
The cycle of debt with pay day loans is far more predatory than any other form of previous lending. A person will typically take on a loan due to a shortfall in funds; however, when the loan comes to term, it places them in the same situation for the following week and therefore, they are forced to take out a new loan. As the fees escalate, it is not uncommon for people to take out various loans from multiple companies. This places the debtor in the position of constantly juggling multiple loans for exorbitant fees, with no hope of ever paying off the original debt.
The choice of Montel Williams as a spokesperson was not accidental. These companies are well aware of how the economy has impacted Blacks. Even when when Blacks are employed, they are increasingly under employed, making it more difficult to get access to basic commodities. This is why these companies largely populate urban neighbourhoods. The racialized nature of this type of lending cannot be ignored. It is simply another peg in the purposeful impoverishment of Black peoples.
When Montel chose to align himself with these businesses, he chose to embrace the oppressor rather than supporting his own people. While we need to focus on the ways in which Whiteness acts as a systemic force, we also need to deal with those in the community who have embraced the master’s tools for their own personal benefit. Payday loan lending institutions are benefitting and Montel Williams is benefitting, while poor Blacks are once again footing the bill.