One of the reasons Lofton County's bankers were so slow in finding out that Lofton National Bank had changed hands was that the banking class thought in order to find out why the county's Black community – fully 39 percent of its population – was noticeably moving money around, they should call a particular old White woman.
Not that Mrs. Selene Slocum-Lofton was not in a position to know the answer – there was very little the old tycoon did not know about financial movements in Lofton County.
Not that Mrs. Selene Slocum-Lofton did not know the specific answer, because she had sold Lofton National Bank to the Morton Consortium without fanfare at the end of December, and the Morton Consortium represented Black people in Lofton County going back generations.
So, Mrs. Slocum-Lofton was the person to ask.
The problem was, she was annoyed by the backwardness of the people asking, and decided to let it go untold, at least from her end.
“So, you want to know why Black people in Lofton County are moving their money,” she said to Mr. Thomas Ludwell-Lofton. “Don't you think you might want to inquire of the local Black community leaders about that?”
“Uh … well … .”
“Do you even know who those people are, Mr. Ludwell-Lofton?”
“Uh … no … .”
“Did it even occur to you that the fastest way to find out what is going on – and we have all this modern technology to do it in 2020 – is to go ask the people who are doing it?”
“Well, yes, but … .”
“Has it occurred to you that very, very few of your colleagues have been offering an attractive reason for Black customers to want to stay at your banks?”
“Well, yes … .”
“Do you know how utterly abysmal the loan rates to Black homeowners and business owners are in Lofton County?”
“Uh, yes … .”
“Do you know how abysmal the rate is at YOUR bank, Mr. Ludwell-Lofton?”
“Uh, yes … .”
“Do you know that Lofton County the entire subprime crisis was a poor White problem because the rates are so low at your bank and most of the rest that even when there would have been profit for your banks in targeting the Black community for said awful loans, y'all ripped off White folks instead – just so they could have a piece of a nice house for a minute and Black people couldn't?”
“Uh, sort of … .”
Mr. Ludwell-Lofton had to process that for a few moments … sure enough, that was a situation in which things had gone wrong in a lot of ways. The general trend was to make a profit and have the local Black folks pick up the mess, but … .
“I do have a partial answer for you, Mr. Ludwell-Lofton. The Black community in Lofton County has done what our ancestors feared: they have unified around the idea of self-respect. Basic self-respect. And because I have basic self-respect, I am not about to tell their story about their money and end up in the Lofton County Free Voice as yet another White person who dares to tell the Black community's story and then gets publicly humiliated as correction. If you want to know what is going on, go ask the people that are doing the goings-on.”