Since Wells Fargo lets customers personalize their bank cards with imagery close their hearts, a white schoolteacher from Baltimore decided she wanted a debit card displaying the words "Black Lives Matter" along with a raised fist.
It wasn't anything new for Rachel Nash. Amid the Baltimore rioting after black man Freddie Gray died in police custody in 2015, Nash told the Washington Post she ironed “Black Lives Matter” on a gray tank top and wore it to school in solidarity with the movement.
“A lot of white people in Baltimore have really problematic views about race, and they feel like because I’m a white person I agree with them automatically,” the 29-year-old English teacher told the Post. “This is one way I can demonstrate regularly that I am not complicit in whatever their views are.”
As for the Black Lives Matter debit card, Nash told the paper she hoped it might spark conversations with those who see it.
But that won't be happening.
washdcnews: Why Wells Fargo rejected a teacher’s Black Lives Matter debit card design https://t.co/NuE6XGgl9M— Benjamin Trotman (@Benjamin Trotman) 1484398158.0
Wells Fargo informed Nash on Thursday that her design didn't meet company guidelines and was rejected, the Post reported.
As you might expect, Nash called customer service. “As soon as I said 'Black Lives Matter,' [the customer service agent] said, 'Oh, that's why it got rejected.' She said Wells Fargo 'didn’t want to be associated with any antisocial or offensive organizations,'" she told the Post.
The agent also said that "if ‘Black Lives Matter’ were on my card, it might offend people,” Nash noted to the paper, adding that when she disagreed, the agent said, "Oh, it’s political."
Wells Fargo spokesman Kris Dahl told the Post on Friday that the bank nixed Nash's design because the corporation “prohibits political and trademarked or copyrighted images.”
Dahl added in a statement to the Post that Wells Fargo will contact Nash to apologize for her treatment on the phone as "it did not correctly reflect the reason for the decline and was counter to our commitment to treating our customers with respect.”
“The purpose of our Card Design Studio service is to give customers the opportunity to personalize their cards, and its guidelines aim to preserve the political neutrality of our products,” the statement noted, the Post said. “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.”
Dahl told the paper that swastikas and Confederate flags would be rejected as designs. When the Post asked if a card design read “Choose Life” — for a customer who opposes abortion — Dahl replied, “Generally speaking, we would err on the side of caution as to what is considered political."
More from the Post:
There's also a gay pride collection of preapproved images including a rainbow flag and a “We are family” button next to a pink triangle. Dahl told The Washington Post that Wells Fargo is comfortable in its support for gay rights and does not consider rainbows to be a political statement.
He said Wells Fargo similarly celebrates black history and culture through its “Untold Stories” collection of credit card images rolled out in February during Black History Month. The images include a boombox and a black family embracing one other.
Nash wanted something more, however — and isn't happy with Wells Fargo.
“These banks are very excited to sign my kids up for credit cards as soon as they get to college, but they are not supporting the people who live in my city,” Nash told the Post. “It’s hard for students to hear that big businesses they expect to be inclusive are not. And a lot of them said they don't feel like doing business with Wells Fargo.”
And while Nash told the paper she submitted a different design to Wells Fargo — which instead reads, “Black People Are Important" — the bank said that one's not allowed, either.
Rejected Black Lives Matter for being antisocial and offensive, and then stated "Black people are important" was to… https://t.co/AJdabLSy2i— Subject of Ymir (@Subject of Ymir) 1484416780.0
“Because of the political nature of the second image," Dahl told the Post, "it will also be declined."
(H/T: Allen B. West)