Wells Fargo rejects request for Black Lives Matter debit card

A Baltimore teacher (not picrtured) says her submission of a personalized Wells Fargo debit card that contained the message "Black Lives Matter" was rejected for being "offensive and antisocial." (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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A Baltimore teacher (not picrtured) says her submission of a personalized Wells Fargo debit card that contained the message "Black Lives Matter" was rejected for being "offensive and antisocial." (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

A schoolteacher in Baltimore, Maryland, says her submission of a personalized Wells Fargo debit card that contained the message "Black Lives Matter" was rejected for being "offensive and antisocial."

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The Washington Post reported that Rachel Nash, who is white, came up with the idea for the card out of frustration and wanted to use such a card to prompt conversations with people she interacts with in places where she uses her debit card.

"A lot of white people in Baltimore have really problematic views about race, and they feel like because I'm a white person I agree with them automatically," Nash, 29, told The Washington Post. "This is one way I can demonstrate regularly that I am not complicit in whatever their views are."

Nash said she submitted the design online and received an email two days later saying her design was rejected because it did not meet company guidelines. In a Jan. 12 Facebook post, Nash said she called customer service to ask further about the decision.

"As soon as I said 'Black Lives Matter,' (the customer service representative) said, 'Oh, that's why it got rejected.' She said Wells Fargo 'didn't want to be associated with any antisocial or offensive organizations.'"

"She said that if 'Black Lives Matter' were on my card, it might offend people," Nash said.

Nash escalated the query to a supervisor, whom she said also told her the company did not want to be associated with "offensive and antisocial" organizations and the card might offend some people.

According to the Wells Fargo debit card design website, the bank "reserves the right to accept or reject any artwork, images, or logos. For example, any third party trademarks, copyrighted materials, or name, image and likeness of any public figures, will not be approved."

Wells Fargo spokesman Kris Dahl told The Washington Post the company would reach out to Nash to apologize for how she was treated on the phone, as it "did not correctly reflect the reason for the decline and was counter to our commitment to treating our customers with respect."

Nash said she submitted another design that says, "Black People Are Important," but Dahl said that would also be rejected "because of the political nature of the second image."

When asked about card designs that reference gay rights, Dahl said his company does not consider that to be a political issue and Wells Fargo supports gay rights. As for a card designed for those who oppose abortion rights, Dahl said the company would generally "err on the side of caution as to what is considered political."

Dahl said the following in a statement:

The purpose of our Card Design Studio service is to give customers the opportunity to personalize their cards, and its guidelines aim to preserve the political neutrality of our products. Wells Fargo respects individuals' right to their opinions and causes, and when Wells Fargo rejects or approves an image, that's not a reflection of Wells Fargo's rejection or endorsement of the customer's political view or cause.