Many times in life more than the average person expects, inconvenient, adverse, or downright unwarranted obstacles can end up being major blessings in disguise.
An actual situation that fits such a mold happened recently for a black man from Detroit, Michigan named Sauntore Thomas (pictured right). Thomas 44, is the new national face of another one of America’s countless forms of systemic racial oppression called Banking While Black (BWB). However, in Thomas’ case, a small but relevant battle against white racism was won.
Mr. Thomas was formerly an employee at Enterprise Rent-a-car and confidentially settled a lawsuit with the large corporation not too long ago. Deborah Gordon (pictured left) is the attorney who successfully represented Thomas in his case against Enterprise Rent-a-Car. After the settlement, Gordon made sure three checks were cut to Thomas, which collectively totaled six figures.
However, when Thomas went to the TCF Bank branch in Livonia, Michigan, to deposit the checks, he was met with trouble.
According to BuzzFeed News, the Detroit resident has an account at the TCF Bank location he recently traveled to after collecting his job discrimination settlement. Thomas went there with the intention of opening up a new savings account, depositing the checks, and to also make a cash withdrawal of his desired amount.
But a white female manager at the bank who pathetically serviced Thomas was acting very suspicious toward him; much like numbers of white people in America regularly do when they see an unknown black man with some real money. The white female bank employee even went as far as asking Thomas to tell her where his money came from.
She took Thomas’ three checks to another bank employee and told him she was going to a back room to “verify” them. However, ten minutes later, Thomas was met by officers with the Livonia Police Department. Apparently, the suspicious white female bank employee thought that Thomas’ checks were fraudulent and alerted police.
As the officers approached Thomas in an attempt to investigate the bank’s fraud claim, he took no chances and remained calm.
“I didn’t give them any type of indication that I was getting upset. I wanted to make sure I stayed as level-headed as possible because I wasn’t going to be the next person on the ground saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’” Thomas said, according to BuzzFeed.
Next, the six-figure victor in the civil courts did the right thing by calling his attorney, Deborah Gordon. She answered the phone and spoke with the police, as well as a member of the bank’s senior management team. Even though Gordon provided legal documentation proving the lawsuit settlement and produced stubs for the checks, the cops and bankers still were not convinced.
“This is just another classic example of what it’s like living your life as a black male. The checks are for real. Why was there an issue? Why could you not verify them? You’re a bank, after all — it’s your job to verify checks,” Gordon is quoted as saying in a BuzzFeed report.
Since TCF wanted to play its stack of race cards unfairly, Thomas ordered the bank’s customer service department to close his account permanently. The police did not arrest him and he was not physically harmed. However, due to some foolish actions of racial discrimination, TCF Bank has lost a stable six-figure account holder. There are also new problems.
Gordon has said that she intends to file a new lawsuit on her client’s behalf against TCF Bank. Meanwhile, after closing his TCF account, Thomas went to a nearby Chase Bank branch to request the same services he requested of TCF Bank earlier. He then walked out of Chase Bank as a satisfied new account holder who is now tens of thousands of dollars richer.
BuzzFeed also reported that the local law enforcement’s attempted fraud investigation against Thomas was officially canceled.