During the height of the protests following the murder of George Floyd in the summer of 2020 I wrote an article on how Bitcoin can help combat systemic racism in the US. At that time there was a lot of pain at the lack of progress the US has had regarding racism. A year and a half later during Black History Month 2022, that pain is still there but there is a beacon of hope. Since then a lot of new data and anecdotes about Bitcoin’s new role in helping people of color strike back against racist financial systems has come out. And it is very promising.
For one thing, it seems people of color, and especially blacks, are using Bitcoin more and more. A series of surveys performed last year all showed the same thing. The stereotype that Bitcoin is for white libertarians living in their parent’s basement is false. Instead, they are people of color, millennials, well off, and voted for Biden. A poll by NORC at the University of Chicago found 44% of crypto users were non-white. A poll by Morning Consult found that 41% of Blacks were likely to invest in Bitcoin. This contrasts to 30% of whites.
This is huge, it shows that blacks are looking to Bitcoin as a legitimate investment, and that they appreciate it for its freedom from the racist financial institutions. The surveys so they are also listening to their friends, and other people they look up to for advice on what kinds of cryptocurrencies they should invest in.
This is a big change from a few years ago. Take this article from 2014 which points out a number of studies that showed African Americans were less likely to know or use Bitcoin. This situation has reversed itself quite a bit in just a few short years.
But that doesn’t mean its all roses. Just as Bitcoin is growing popular with blacks, its growing popular with those same financial institutions they are trying to escape. Many activists are worried the same problems that keep them from using financial systems will seep their way into crypto.
For example, Tani Chambers, who runs Black Women Who Invest, pointed out:
“For years, banks say that cryptocurrency is some kind of crazy talk; now they all have some kind of cryptocurrency department. Now they’re at the table, negotiating with regulators and figuring out what this should all look like.”
The financial institutions are going to try to push through items that make themselves more profit but won’t necessarily benefit the people that need Bitcoin most. This is something regulators must keep in mind as the topic of Bitcoin regulation heats up.
But overall more black and other non-white investors is a very good thing for Bitcoin. It helps those communities and it helps Bitcoin. Bitcoin is built to help those in need, those who can’t benefit from the financial institutions we have today. We as a community need to embrace that, and embrace the ideas they bring into the playing field.