“Abuse of authority and violence against a black man” prompted the chairman of the board for the federal credit union regulator to release a pointed statement Tuesday urging “true inclusion” among regulators, financial institutions and their communities.
“As the first African-American to lead a federal banking agency, I feel compelled to speak following the tragic death of George Floyd,” said National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Chairman Rodney Hood. “Over the past few months, communities across the country have been overwhelmed with challenge and uncertainty. Besides being on the heels of a global pandemic, we are also experiencing heightened levels of strife following yet another instance of abuse of authority and violence against a black man.”
To date, Hood is the only federal financial institution regulator to issue a public comment about the death of George Floyd, an African-American man in Minneapolis, Minn. Floyd died during a police apprehension May 24. A Minnesota medical examiner has ruled Floyd’s death a homicide.
Hood indicated that discussions about racial division are personal to him. “In my banking career, I’ve attended conferences and professional events where I was the only man of color in the room,” he said. “I’ve arrived early to speak on a panel discussion, and people were surprised to learn that I was a participant.”
Hood said that, as an African-American man, he was both shocked and appalled and that he shared what he called “the heartbreak” of many in the black community.
“I am all too familiar with the anger and frustration that comes with the everyday challenges and realities surrounding race,” he said. “While I pray for justice, healing, and peace for our nation and for the family and loved ones of George Floyd, I am also encouraging everyone to have difficult conversations and to look for ways to promote diversity and inclusion within our communities. Individually and collectively, we can make a difference – one conversation and relationship at a time.”
He said that one of his top priorities as NCUA chairman is financial inclusion. “True inclusion within our financial regulators, financial institutions and communities is a goal we all must strive towards,” he said. “Diversity is important, but without cultural change that encourages true inclusion, it risks being little more than checking the right boxes.”