The Boston Globe: Malia Lazu rises from community organizer to bank president, but she still might not believe in capitalism

The Boston Globe, July 25, 2020: Malia Lazu rises from community organizer to bank president, but she still might not believe in capitalism

Malia Lazu has worn many hats during her two decades in Boston: community organizer, reality TV star, and political provocateur. But her latest role could be the most radical of all: bank president.

Until she went to work for Berkshire Bank about a year ago, Lazu had never held a corporate job. You would sooner find her protesting in the streets than presenting Power Points in the boardroom. Those close to Lazu aren’t even sure she believes in capitalism.

Longtime friend Grace Moreno, head of the Massachusetts LGBT Chamber of Commerce, likened Lazu’s career move to “AC/DC doing Bach.”

But to Richard Marotta, chief executive of Berkshire, Lazu’s heavy-metal approach is exactly what the bank needed to make structural changes so communities of color feel welcomed — a customer base he sees as Berkshire’s future after its headquarters relocated to Boston from one of the whitest parts of the state.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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