Kansas Reflector welcomes opinion pieces from writers who share our goal of widening the conversation about how public policies affect the day-to-day lives of people throughout our state. Michael Coard, an attorney and radio host, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune.
President Joe Biden, the last legitimate president since Barack Obama, announced Aug. 24 that he is erasing $10,000 in federal student loan debt for those with incomes below $125,000, or who live in households earning less than $250,000. He’s canceling an additional $10,000 for those who received federal Pell Grants to attend college.
By the way, a federal Pell Grant assists undergraduates from low-income families. It was originally known as a Basic Education Opportunity Grant when it was created in 1972 and was renamed in 1980 to honor Democratic US Senator Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island.
The figures I trust were published in 2019 in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education and state that in the 2015-16 academic year, more than 57 percent of Black undergraduates received Pell Grants. About 31 percent of white students received them.
That’s the grant parts. What about the loans part? Well, Education Data Initiative addresses that. EDA is a think tank staffed by meticulous researchers, who rely primarily on and extrapolate from raw data provided by numerous academic and federal sources, such as the National Center for Education Statistics. EDA highlights the following four key race-based points at EducationData.org:
- About 50.8 percent of Black students use student loans, compared with 40.2 percent of white undergraduates.
- “Most research regarding student loan debt forgiveness and race focuses on the impact on Black borrowers, most likely because this demographic is the most likely among races to pay a disproportionate amount in student loan interest.”
- “White bachelor’s degree holders make between 19 percent (among women) and 30 percent (among men) more in median annual income than their Black counterparts.”
- “Student loan debt forgiveness would immediately increase the wealth of Black Americans by up to 40 percent.”
CNBC on June 17 reported that the Brookings Institution found that from the moment they graduate from college, Blacks owe an average of $7,400 more than their white counterparts. And four years afterward, Blacks owe an average of $52,726 compared with only $28,006 for whites.
On July 22, thoroughly progressive and remarkably woke Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts told the Student Defense organization that “For too long, black and brown borrowers have been disproportionately impacted by … (America’s) broken student loan system.”
And as impressive Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York and NAACP President Derrick Johnson wrote in a joint BET opinion piece on Feb. 28: “For Black Americans, the burdens of student debt are especially severe. They are far likelier than others to take out federal student loans to begin with, and on average, almost half will default within 12 years. Paying debt back is also often near-impossible: while the median white borrower will owe just 6 percent of their 20 years after starting college, the median black borrower will still owe 95 percent of their debt over the same stretch of time. This disparity is unacceptable. It is un-American.”
Schumer and Johnson then called on Biden to “cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt.” Although he unfortunately didn’t go as far as he should have in response to their reasonable request, he did take a big step in the right direction. And, hopefully, it is just the first of many steps by him.
There’s obviously much more to be done by Biden, his administration, Congress, state legislatures, city councils and especially private industry to achieve racial economic parity that can be achieved only through equity.
There’s obviously much more to be done by him, his administration, Congress, state legislatures, city councils and especially private industry to achieve racial economic parity that can be achieved only through equity. Equity shines because it factors in the effects of slavery, sharecropping, black codes, convict leasing, school segregation, social Jim Crow, voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering, redlining and de jure (legal) as well as de facto employment.
In response to President Biden’s school debt cancellation announcement, the KKK, I mean the White Citizens’ Council, I mean the John Birch Society, I mean the fascists — sorry, I mean the Republicans went ballistic. They called it a handout. They called it welfare. They called it socialism. And they called the recipients deadbeats for not repaying the student loans.
But those selfish narcissistic Republicans should have called themselves hypocrites because they greedily pushed for and received millions of dollars in forgiveness debt stemming from the US Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) in connection with COVID-related funding. And the biggest hypocrites/haters include Congresspersons Vern Buchanan ($2.3 million), Markwayne Mullin ($1.4 million), Kevin Hern ($1 million), Mike Kelly ($987,237), Matt Gaetz ($482,321), and Marjorie Taylor Greene ($183,504).
I should mention that traitorous fake former president Donald Trump throughout his business career filed six bankruptcies and has a current debt of at least $1.3 billion (that’s billion with ab) that remains unpaid.
I guess each of those phony Christian congresspersons missed the part in Matthew 7:5 of their own Holy Book that states, “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s (or sister’s) eye.” Or, more simply put: “first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye, You hypocrite!”
Because America was and is racist, Blacks have never been treated equitably (or even equally) in this country’s educational system from elementary through graduate school. Even the 1954 Brown v. Kansas Board of Education ruling has never — I repeat never — been fully implemented as of 2022. The most recent court action regarding that 68-year-old case was on July 27, 1999 when the District Court of Kansas granted the dismissal motion filed by defendant Shawnee County, Kansas Unified School District No. 501. The historic case was dismissed primarily because, as that court wrote in its opinion, “Defendant has announced its continued commitment to diversity and intolerance of discrimination.”
What? “Continuing commitment” based entirely on that white school district’s word? I guess that white court didn’t understand what our Native brothers and sisters meant when they used to profoundly and accurately say, “The white man speaks with forked tongue.” In the case of the American educational system, 68 years proves the Native people were right.
As a result of the lack of equal/equitable education from elementary school through graduate school, Blacks have never consistently received the higher paying jobs they deserve. Therefore, Blacks have obviously been unable to repay their school loan debts on par with whites, many of whom are less qualified but more connected.
As a wise man once said, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know.” And as I’m saying now, “White America knows that white people are white and that Black people are Black and treats the two accordingly.” History and current events prove it.
Oh, before I forget. I must impress upon Black students in high school that they must enroll at an HBCU. And I also must impress upon Black students at Predominantly White Institutions that they must transfer to an HBCU.
And there are three important reasons among thousands why:
One: HBCU tuition is much less than PWI tuition, which means you don’t have to repay as much money when you graduate.
Two: HBCUs have produced the following high income (and socially uplifting) positions:
- 80 percent of Black judges
- 70 percent of Black physicians and Black dentists
- 60 percent of Black engineering degree holders
- 50 percent of Black attorneys and Black teachers
- 40 percent of Black health professionals, STEM degree holders and Black members of Congress
Three: HBCUs are Black. Period.
This article was first published by the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, an affiliate of the States Newsroom.