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Canceling Student Loan Debt For Black Borrowers Is A Form of Reparations, Says The NAACP

via Reuters
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The Biden administration announced $5 billion in student loan debt relief for over 70,000 borrowers, prompting organizations, including the NAACP, to urge further debt cancellation for those experiencing hardship, especially for borrowers of color.

The NAACP views student debt relief as part of a reparations movement, aiming to address historic economic injustices and racial wealth gaps.

Advocates argue that canceling student debt can uplift the Black economy and stimulate the Black dollar.

“Failing to finalize a proposal to provide relief for borrowers experiencing hardship would result in millions of borrowers — including most recent graduates, many low-income borrowers, borrowers of color, and borrowers with disabilities — being left out of the necessary debt relief. This cannot be an option,” a letter from 67 organizations read.

“Reparations can take the form of various economic initiatives, such as canceling student debt, providing access to capital for revitalization in historically redlined communities, offering tax benefits for Black businesses, and providing fiscal payments tied to slavery in America,” the NAACP’s director of opportunity, race and justice, Keisha Deonarine said.

“The easy fix is to cancel student debt. That’s a reparation because education was not afforded to Black people in this country. So when education for Black Americans was afforded, there came a price tag, a higher price tag than most have to pay,” Deonarine said.

However, there are contrasting views on student loan forgiveness in relation to reparations and legal restitution.

“Young adults, especially from communities of color, should not be penalized for pursuing upward economic and social mobility opportunities,” Young Invincibles’ Satra Taylor said.

Black student borrowers face significant debt disparities compared to their white counterparts, affecting their financial well-being and life goals.

“I think from a reparations perspective, [canceling student debt] can continue to stimulate the Black economy and continue to uplift the Black dollar because there are monies that are owed into those communities,” Deonarine said.

The issue is expected to influence the upcoming election, and the Biden administration is working on new relief plans after the Supreme Court blocked the initial proposal.

“When we’re talking about student loans, we’re talking about forgiveness in the sense of making amends for a wrong that maybe has been done or paying money to otherwise help individuals. I don’t think both of them are the same. We have grandparents who suffered a harm and injury due to slavery, but necessarily didn’t take out student loans. Not all Black Americans have the same experience with their student loan debt,” Hoover Education Success Initiative council practitioner Christina Laster said.

“From previous young voter engagement in elections, we know young people typically vote based on issues that matter most to them. Our hope is that the administration will take heed to the issues concerning young adults and commit to the promises made to address such concerns,” Taylor said.

There is a call for the youth voting bloc, particularly the Congressional Black Caucus, to drive structural changes in the U.S. education system.

“They have to envision their own liberation,” Laster said. “We need to find a way to infuse what they’re saying in our demand because they are the rising bloc of powerful voices and voters. I do believe that they can influence Black American outcomes as a voting bloc. The youth have always been at the forefront of a revolution.”

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