Banking While Black: Seattle Bank Questions Black Architect’s Check

Photo by Trish Doolin / Facebook
Seattle architect Trish Doolin had started a new job and didn't have direct deposit yet

Trish Doolan had recently started her new job. Having just moved to Seattle to become an architecture job captain at Nelson, inc, her first paycheck had arrived. But because her direct deposit had not yet kicked in, she would need to go deposit her check in person at Key Bank.

Minutes after after a routine process, Doolan received a phone call from the bank asking her to return. She was then taken aside by a manager who asked her a series of intrusive questions for verification, without checking her I.D.

“He asked my profession, and then asked why the company's headquarters were in Philadelphia,' Doolin told Buzzfeed. 'Then he asked if HR could verify that I was an employee there.” Unable to reach her employer, Key Bank told her that she would have to wait up to nine days because the account had yet to be open for 30 days. At that point, it had been open for 29 days.

Doolin left troubled. Her experience was a stark remind that part of the Black experience includes the many indignities we endure, and often keep inside, on a daily basis.

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“When I realized that I was defending who I was, trying to prove to someone I didn’t know who I was, I knew I was being discriminated against,” she said. “It was just completely demeaning.”

When she later followed up that day in a phone call to the bank, they seemingly dismissed her concerns, despite pushing the funds through.

“She made sure to tell me that she was sorry that I was ‘having a bad day,’” Doolin said. “At the end of the conversation, she told me, ‘Go have a drink or something.’”

Key Bank has denied any wrongdoing, and claims that the followup questions and hold on her account were bank protocol.

Incidents that involve banking while Black discrimination are not new. Last October, a 911 caller reported that men with backpacks were targeting the ATM in DC. On arrival, police chased and handcuffed one of the teens, who claimed that he was deciding whether he needed to withdraw cash.

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There has also been a history of discrimination against African-Americans trying to gain mortgage loans, such as the case the Justice Department brought against Hudson City Savings Bank last year. “I live in a world where, no matter what’s in my brain or purse, no matter how I wear my hair, no matter how fabulous I look when I walk out the door, I’m still Black,” Toolin said. “People still clutch their purses when I walk past.”

Doolin later posted that Key Bank had called to apologize following the outrage on social media.

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