Baltimore teacher Rachel Nash took to Facebook “feeling pissed off” after she submitted a design for a personalized Wells Fargo debit card, emblazoned with a raised fist and the words Black Lives Matter, only to have the bank reject the design.
“Wells Fargo offers the opportunity to submit a custom debit card design. I created one in MS Paint (taking it back to elementary skill sets) that said BLACK LIVES MATTER. It was rejected. When I called to inquire about why, I was told that Wells Fargo rejected the background because they didn't want to be associated with any ‘anti-social or offensive organizations.’ On hold for a supervisor,” Nash wrote on Thursday.
The supervisor said, “If ‘Black Lives Matter’ were on my card, it might offend people,” Nash told the Post.
Nash’s city of Baltimore descended into protests and chaos following the 2015 death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died a week after sustaining fatal injuries while in police custody for basically no reason. In 2016, a judge found officer Caesar R. Goodson Jr., who drove the police van carrying Gray when he was injured, not guilty of charges including second degree murder, manslaughter and reckless endangerment. Five other officers were criminally charged over Gray’s death, but none were convicted.
Nash said creating a personalized debit card with a Black Lives Matter logo was a way to spark conversation about racial discrimination and police violence during random interactions with cashiers and other customers throughout the day. But Wells Fargo, which promotes the debit card program on its website by urging customers to “make your card as unique as you,” apparently doesn’t think being black–or supporting those who are–is the appropriate kind of “unique.”
Thankfully, the company offers several other options for self-expression, including “a favorite photo of family or friends,” a “picture of your pet,” “your child’s artwork,” or “an image of your favorite hobby or other interest.”
Or, as the Wells Fargo supervisor apparently also suggested: “Blue Lives Matter.”
Nash instead tried to circumvent Wells Fargo’s ruling by re-submitting her design with the words, “Black People Are Important.” That one was also rejected.
Kris Dahl, a spokesman for the company, told the Post that an apology would be forthcoming, and that “Wells Fargo respects individuals’ right to their opinions and causes, and when Wells Fargo rejects or approves an image, that’s not a reflection of Wells Fargo’s rejection or endorsement of the customer’s political view or cause.”
Nash told Fusion that Wells Fargo Vice President of Resolution Management Denise Thomas called her last night to apologize for what employees had said to Nash on the phone.
Thomas “said that my design was not offensive but that even though she had taken it to the ‘top of the house,’ they were standing firm on their decision to not approve the card,” Nash said.
She added that she received an email this morning rejecting her second request for the “Black people are important” card.
According to Nash, Thomas said the statement was “still political” and “had to do with race, and they didn't want to open that door.”
This post has been updated with Nash's response to Fusion.