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As a community, Black people consistently face barriers to full participation in traditional financial markets. The decentralized nature of the cryptocurrency market is attractive to a community that has been historically and systematically excluded from the traditional financial markets by both private and public actors. As new entrants to any type of financial market, Black people have increasingly embraced blockchain technology and cryptocurrency as a path towards the wealth-building opportunities and financial freedom they have been denied in traditional markets. This Article analyzes whether the technology’s decentralized system will lead to financial inclusion or increased financial exclusion. Without reconciling the racially discriminatory history or effects of the current central financial system, the innovative decentralized appeal to Black people will do little to overcome economic inequity. It may be possible that some cryptocurrencies can be tools for financial inclusion by improving economic outcomes and building wealth outside of traditional financial institutions, but without an intervention, a decentralized system will not necessarily lead to decentralized wealth.

The rise of cryptocurrency presents an opportunity to think about how to create a fairer, more inclusive financial system. Taken together with the financial exclusions of the past, cryptocurrency can be a vehicle through which we think about true financial inclusion. However, asking traditionally marginalized groups to participate in an extremely risky cryptocurrency market in pursuit of racial equity is an unrealistic solution given the legacy and reality of financial exclusion. A decentralized system cannot fix the systemic racial inequality that has been embedded in our financial systems. This Article proposes using an Afrofuturist framework in the shaping of policy toward cryptocurrency. An Afrofuturist paradigm pushes for systemic problems to be solved through wholesale systems change rather than tinkering at the margins. Moving forward using an Afrofuturist lens would facilitate a rethinking of our financial systems and the role of cryptocurrency as a portal for racial equity.


Banking and Finance Law | Law | Law and Economics | Law and Race