While today's hearing importantly focuses on payday lending as a civil rights concern, it occurs within the context of a two-tiered financial services system rooted in a long history of discrimination on the basis of race. Nationally, payday lenders strip away over $4 billion a year from consumers through unaffordable loans carrying annual interest rates of 300% or higher. In Rhode Island, payday lenders strip away over $7.5 million a year, through loans that average $391 and carry a 260% APR (annual percentage rate). My testimony today will describe how payday lenders have situated themselves to perpetuate our country's two-tiered financial services system, discuss how the harms and consequences of payday loans perpetuate racial wealth disparities and disproportionately burden communities of color, and conclude with policy recommendations for addressing these abusive lending practices.

Download the full testimony (PDF) of Diane Standaert before the Rhode Island Advisory Committee of the United States Commission on Civil Rights