A Lesson From Larger-Than-Life South African President Nelson Mandela That Should Guide Wells Fargo's Value System
By Tammie Lang Campbell
Nationwide (December 11, 2013) -- Let's respect ourselves and demand it from others. Former South African President Mandela taught us about respect, honor and courage. When he was imprisoned for 27 years because of his fight against the apartheid government for racial inequality, he refused to allow his oppressors to take away his personal dignity and his right to be referred to and treated as a human being. Mr. Mandela would not allow the cruel realities of apartheid define him or his people as second-class, unworthy and unfit creatures. While incarcerated, he silently protested against degrading and demeaning names. He would only answer when he was referred to by his name, "Mr. Mandela or Mandela." This great warrior for justice serves as a symbol for the fight against racial discrimination.
Mr. Mandela shaped the future of the world and continued the course for human dignity. As we mourn his death, we must remember and carry on his legacy by fighting for dignity and equality for all. Our duty to him and other great freedom fighters is to honor ourselves and others by not idly sitting while a fellow citizen is being persecuted.
That's why when John Singletary of South Carolina recently sent me an SOS email requesting my help in exposing Wells Fargo's South Carolina branch president along with another employee for using the n-word, I was moved to help him and his wife, Carla, share the brutal truth of how this evil and vulgar racial slur is used to dehumanized based on the hue of one's skin.
Fighting for their dignity, respect and home, John and his wife, Carla Singletary, filed suit against Wells Fargo for illegally foreclosing on their home five years ago. During their investigation of Wells Fargo's high percent of foreclosures on properties owned by African Americans and Latinos, they discovered that one of Wells Fargo's South Carolina branch presidents and another executive had used the n-word. Upon further investigation, they learned that Mr. John G. Stumpf, Chairman, President and CEO, Wells Fargo & Company does not have any blacks on his executive team, which can be defined as structural racism. This has become the method to ensure subordination by race. It also makes one's fight for racial justice long and excruciating.
Although a federal judge rejected Wells Fargo & Company's bid to dismiss a U.S. government lawsuit accusing the nation's largest mortgage lender, Wells Fargo, of fraud; the judicial system was not so favorable toward the Singletarys' case, which was dismissed under a summary judgment.
One of the main lessons that Mr. Mandela taught us is that the battle for racial justice continues until we dismantle discrimination piece by piece, institution by institution. I can personally attest to this long battle for racial equality. In fact, John contacted me for help because of my 23 year anti-n-word fight that includes burying the racial slur ni**er in Pearland, Texas on CNN and being recently recognized for my anti-n-word initiative by Missouri City, Texas Mayor Allen Owen, retired senior vice president and Texas government liaison for Wells Fargo Bank of Texas. The most ironic thing about John contacting me along with Mayor Owen, is that he wasn't aware that Mayor Owen bestowed this honor upon me because I had a come to Jesus talk with him about his insensitive racial remarks.
In honor of the great deeds that Mr. Mandela bestowed upon all, I'm appealing to you, Mr. John G. Stumpf, Chairman, President and CEO, Wells Fargo & Company. Please do not ignore our plea/prayer for justice for the Singletarys. Although it may be difficult for you to relate to the struggles of this black couple because you have no black executives on your team, I besiege you to close your eyes, become color blind and see them as the human beings they are.
Then, prayerfully you can advance by treating the Singletarys with the upmost respect and fairness in accordance with Wells Fargo's value statement below.
Our priorities are how we bring our vision and values to life in today's environment. By making progress in these areas, and being faithful to our vision and values, we can continue to earn the trust of our customers, help them succeed financially and be known as one of the world's best companies.
Our values should guide every conversation we have, every decision we make, and every interaction we have among our team members and with our customers. Our values should anchor every product and service we provide and every channel we operate. If we can't link what we do to one of our values, we should ask ourselves why we're doing it. It's that simple." -- Excerpts from Wells Fargo's value statement
Mr. Stumpf, please know that we, Singletary and his family, concerned citizens and I, stand firm on President Mandela's philosophy - "any man or institution that tries to rob me of my dignity will lose." You cannot continue to profit from the minority community while robbing them of their American Dream. Every exposure of your unfair and discriminatory practices serves as the mean to dismantle your structural racism.
Tammie Lang Campbell is the founder/executive director of the Honey Brown Hope Foundation and a former branch president of NAACP. She has been working for 23 years to spread the word that ni**er is not in any person's DNA. For more details, visit www.honeybrownhope.org
Honey Brown Hope Foundation
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