By Anyaso, Hilary Hurd
The Crisis , Vol. 116, No. 3
The NAACP filed two new lawsuits against financial institutions HSBC and Wells Fargo in March contending that the banks were engaged in "systematic, institutionalized racism in subprime home mortgage lending."
In 1997, the NAACP fUed an initial class-action lawsuit against 12 subprime mortgage loan companies, including Fremont Investment & Loan, CitiMortgage Inc., and Bear Stearns Residential Mortgage Corp., in which the same claims were made. Five other defendants were added later. A trial date has been set for October 2010.
Angela Ciccolo, the NAACP's interim general counsel, says the organization continues to receive hundreds of caUs from African American borrowers who claim they continue to be victimized by the banks named in the three lawsuits. In June, The Chicago Reporter, in an analysis of mortgage lending data, reported that "Wells Fargo gave high-cost, subprime loans more often to its highestearning African American borrowers in Baltimore and Chicago than to its lowest-earning White borrowers in 2007."
In a statement responding to the NAACP's lawsuit, WeUs Fargo denied the allegations. "Our loan terms and pricing are based on mar- ket factors and on individual cus- tomer and loan circumstances ...We have been working with the NAACP for the past two years to develop a partnership that would benefit the NAACP, its constituents and our communities, so we are dismayed that the NAACP has chosen to aban- don that constructive dialogue in order to pursue this litigation."
Ciccolo says the NAACP is looking for ways to prevent predatory lending practices from happening in the future. "Fortunately, there are many laws and statutes on the books to help borrowers and make lending discrimination illegal. We want the banks to not only abide by those laws, because that's what benefits our constituents, but also in looking forward, to commit themselves to being aligned with the NAACP principles of justice, equality and nondiscrimination," she says.
From discriminatory lending practices to discriminatory employment practices, in 2007, the NAACP joined a lawsuit against pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly following reported incidents of racial discrimination against current and former African American employees (The Crisis, Winter 2008). …