Like many of Black Americans, I had to take out loans to pay for college. More than 57% of Black people have received a pell grant (and more than 75% of students attending HBCUs). It’s America’s catch-22, where you need education to find employment to live comfortably. However, if you don’t have the wealth to pay for it, you’ll end up working to pay that off for the rest of your working career. For Black people, that means paying off a mortgage worth of debt while not even having a house.
This is why the Biden administration’s move to forgive up to $20,000 in Pell Grant debt and cap payments at 5% of a person’s income will help Black Americans across the country who have been bogged down financially. Now, families might be able to put more towards savings, buy a house or a car, and pay down other debts. But of course, Republican lawmakers couldn’t wait to demonize this move.
A key suppression tactic by Republicans is romanticizing struggle. Since the Biden administration announced their student loan forgiveness plan, Republicans have flooded the internet telling old stories about how their grandfather had to work at the steel mill for years to pay for college. This is without mentioning tuition, and the cost of living was much cheaper back then.
Most of their anger stems from a belief that has progressed throughout American history. As long as you work hard, you’ll eventually become rich and famous. We know this is not true, especially with the socio-economic racism and prejudices Black people endured. The government decides to help minorities once, and Republicans want to fix their faces and rally against “handouts.” Just like the term “woke” has been co-opted with racist intentions, help has now turned into “handouts.”
They were quiet when they received thousands of dollars in PPP loans which were later forgiven with no strings attached. (Thankfully, people have been calling them out on it.) Only 49% of Black businesses who applied for those loans got approved. Republicans don’t have anything to say about the Trump tax cuts where 60% percent of tax savings went to the top 20% of the income ladder. Let’s not even get started on how many times we’ve given “handouts” to the airline and banking industries only for them to lay off workers. But, no, Black people receiving financial help is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
So, what’s the Republican plan to help the millions of people who have to pay down student debt and fight unfair interest rates? I’ll save you some time – they don’t have one. If anything, they will try to make people feel guilty that the government is doing what it’s supposed to do while taking from it themselves. There is no shared benefit to sitting back and allowing future generations to struggle as you may have. Black families through generations know this, and the world should, too.