- American Bank of Oklahoma denied allegations of discrimination, but agreed to expand mortgage services in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods of Tulsa.
- Oklahoma’s Administrative Office of the Courts agreed to provide interpreter services at no cost to people with limited proficiency in English.
WASHINGTON – An Oklahoma mortgage loan officer referred to a moderate-income neighborhood as the edge of a “ghetto,” according to a lawsuit brought last month by the Department of Justice.
One of the bank’s executives forwarded an email to a manager entitled “Proud to be White!” with racial slurs including “the N word” and asserted “ghettos” are “the most dangerous places to live,” the lawsuit said. The DOJ also described email exchanges that included the suggestion that to live in the United States a person must speak English.
The racist statements were part of a lawsuit brought Aug. 23 against the American Bank of Oklahoma, alleging racial discrimination in mortgage lending in Tulsa.
This week, the DOJ and the bank reached an agreement to resolve the complaint of redlining of historically Black neighborhoods, including the site of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, with the bank agreeing to expanding lending opportunities in minority communities.
“This agreement will help expand investment in Black communities and communities of color in Tulsa and increase opportunities for homeownership and financial stability,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, head of the Civil Rights Division. “Remedial provisions in the agreement will open up opportunities for building generational wealth while focusing on neighborhoods that bear the scars of the Tulsa Race Massacre.”
The bank agreed to take remedial steps such as investing $1.15 million to increase credit opportunities and boosting the number of loan officers in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods.
The federal lawsuit alleged that American Bank of Oklahoma failed to provide mortgages in majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods from at least 2017 though 2021. The bank’s branches were all in majority white neighborhoods and the bank designated a service area that excluded Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, according to the lawsuit.
The bank broadly denied the allegations in a statement without getting into specifics and said it agreed to resolve the matter to avoid the cost and distraction of protracted litigation.