With Black women carrying more student loan debt than any other group, a national petition has been launched to cancel $50,000 in student debt for every borrower to help build the future of Black women.
More than 28,000 people already have signed the petition to get the Biden administration to cancel out the debt, which advocates say will help close the racial wealth gap by at least 20%.
Shayka Cherry-Donaldson, executive director of the nonprofit 1000 Women Strong, said Black women find themselves at the intersection of cancel-debt conversations. Yet, there is not enough focus on solutions to liberate them from the ever-growing burden of debt.
“We know that a Black woman who graduates with a bachelor’s degree is paid the same as a white man who has a high school diploma, a Black woman with a master’s degree is paid the same with a white man with a bachelor’s degree,” Cherry-Donaldson outlined. “You cannot catch up, even with the education and the experience on our side.”
U.S. Department of Education data showed significant race-based differences in the amount of debt that students of color assume and can readily pay.
The goal of the campaign and petition in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union, seen on both organizations’ websites, is to empower Black women and close the gap on current trends.
Studies show African American families are more likely to borrow than white, Latino or Asian families and Black women are often the primary breadwinner.
Cherry-Donaldson explained they are looking for opportunities to build wealth.
“For our current families, but also to invest in things such as property real estate, starting our own businesses that all require capital or some type of loan process, so we are completely shut out because we are holding the burden of student debt,” Cherry-Donaldson pointed out.`
Lumina Foundation, which advocates for racial equity in America’s education system, also is urging policymakers, through its Borrowers of Color Project, to ensure people of color are in the room when decisions are made to address unmet needs.
Cherry-Donaldson hopes to find an ally in Kamala Harris, given her background as the first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president.