At the end of last year, we launched a campaign calling on the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) to #RevoketheRainbow and divest from Wells Fargo because of their ties to private prison profits, support of the Dakota Access Pipeline and a history of violence and harm to our communities. Today, we want to extend this call to action to LGBTQ equality groups and leaders across the community.
This is about more than Wells Fargo, and it’s about more than the HRC. The act of celebrating state and private sector actors as pro-LGBT while they simultaneously invest in and profit from pain and violence inflicted on our community has been a problematic tradition of the (Gay Inc) “equality” movement for years. In this new day, when so much is uncertain and, more of us will be called to not only answer but act on the question of “what side are you on?”, LGBTQ folks claiming to fight for human rights and dignity must demand a new standard for allyship.
Here are 5 reasons why equality groups divesting from Wells Fargo is important:
- In the new Trump-era, we must act with bold demands and bright lines. Compromise is not inherently bad, but the compromising or blurring of our principles and values in this time actually normalizes the violence of policing, surveillance and criminalization of communities of color. We must take every step necessary to make clear what our communities need and what it means to fight WITH us. Divesting from Wells Fargo means that you can’t buy our pride with event sponsorships while profiting from our pain.
- Wells Fargo can actually help stop the Dakota Access Pipeline for good! In December of 2016, the Army Corp of Engineers denied the permits necessary to complete the pipeline under Lake Oahe in North Dakota. However, Energy Transfers Partners, backed by Wells Fargo, has stated their intention to build anyway. Without financing from banks like Wells Fargo, the company will not have the resources to move forward.
- Wells Fargo is basically the worst of the worst. According to a recent investor chart for the Dakota Access Pipeline and the most recent Million Shares Club list from private prison companies GEO group and CCA, Wells Fargo holds the distinction of being the one company that stands to profit from both the Dakota Access Pipeline construction AND the continued use of private prisons and detention centers.
- Everybody’s doing it! There is a growing divestment movement involving climate justice groups, workers rights groups, immigrant rights, and prison abolition groups all targeting Wells Fargo and their investments that harm our communities.
- Divestment is a powerful and often effective tool to shift profit motives for companies. We can look as far back as the Stop Apartheid divestment movement of the 1990’s, or as recent as the BDS movement against Israeli occupation of Palestine. Power shifts when consumers and very powerful non-government institutions withdraw their resources and social capital in opposition to systematic oppression against vulnerable communities.
This new day comes with all the threats, violence, inequalities, and injustices that we’ve been experiencing, and brings with it a deeper level of power and emboldened action for the individuals and institutions that benefit from various forms of oppression. This new day demands that we show and do more, for ourselves, for our communities, and for each other. Divesting from Wells Fargo is just one important step LGBTQ equality leaders and organizations must take to rise to the demands of this new day.