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This is an email from Keepin' It 💯, a newsletter by ZORA.

The truth about student loan debt

ZORA Fam,

More than 44 million Americans are saddled with student loan debt, collectively amassing 1.6 trillion dollars. This group includes me and my five-figure arrears after earning my bachelors in 2005 and my master’s degree in 2011. It wasn’t until a couple of years ago when I really started to pay down my debt. Or at least I thought I was. With growing interest, balances don’t dip much in a few months, or even in a few years.

My story is a result of an odious system underpinning something much bigger. As Nicole Froio writes in her latest story for ZORA, “a crucial aspect of the effects of student loan debt is being overlooked: its role in reinforcing the racial wealth gap.”

➡️ Read: The Student Loan Crisis Is a Racial Inequality Issue

While conversations around student debt have resurfaced this week after President-elect Joe Biden and Senate Democrats called for relief measures, we must take a look at who is affected most by the Sallie Mae and Nelnet bills: Black women. We have the highest student loan debt of any racial or ethnic group according to a study by the American Association of University Women.

And there’s a litany of challenges that make it so.

“Because Black and brown students typically have less family wealth to draw on when they start school, they take out larger loans. When Black and brown students graduate, they face racial discrimination in wages and job placement that make it more difficult to pay off their loans,” Suzanne Kahn, a director at the Great Democracy Initiative at the Roosevelt Institute tells ZORA. “As a result, one study found that 12 years after entering college, the median Black borrower had made no progress in paying down their loans. In fact, the balance had actually increased.”

The series of blows is devastating. Folks are trying to get by. Trying to build a savings account. Trying to purchase a home. All while trying to manage the stress that comes with crushing debt. (That too can cause further financial strain if the stress requires medical attention.) All the more reason to cancel student debt altogether (and make tuition-free public schools a true possibility).

While Biden’s $10,000 debt-canceling plan is being pushed as a solution, it ain’t the answer. We need a more robust plan with more impact.

We need to wipe out the whole damn thing.

Take care,
Christina M. Tapper, deputy editor

P.S. And while we’re in a pandemic, we need to cancel rent and mortgage payments, too.

Zero to 💯

Who kept it 100 this week? Let’s take a look.

Indya Moore schools their followers during Trans Awareness Week: 💯/💯

Actor and model Indya Moore has been using their platform to teach their followers a lesson on listening to and respecting trans people. “To all my trans followers, you are so special and beautiful regardless of whether or not somebody else ‘agrees’ with your beauty, your sexuality, transition, your identity or your body,” they wrote.

Meg Thee Stallion declines an invite to appear on The Breakfast Club 💯/💯

Discussing the Hot Girl’s recent GQ cover story earlier this week, hosts from the notorious morning show complained about Meg not joining them on the show. The show has a long track record of mistreating Black women guests on the show, so we applaud Meg for setting boundaries. Preserve your peace, sis.

A coalition of people stopped Michigan Republicans from blatant political intrusion 💯/💯

Black women, activists, environmentalists, and immigrants voiced their outrage after an attempt to disenfranchise Detroit voters by two Republicans from the Michigan board of elections who refused to certify the Motor City’s election results. The decision was overturned, but shows the lengths Republicans are willing to go to protect white supremacy.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche thinks JK Rowling’s anti-trans essay was “perfectly reasonable”: 🚮/💯

In an interview with The Guardian, the Nigerian author defended Rowling as “a woman who is progressive, who clearly stands for and believes in diversity.” This is not the first time Ngozi Adiche has been on the wrong side of transgender rights. If your feminism ain’t intersectional, it ain’t feminism.

Erica Campbell gives marriage advice nobody asked for: 🚮/💯

The gospel singer shared a post on Instagram that read, “You can’t sow hoe seeds and reap marriage benefits,” implying that sexual permiscuous women are not likely to find committed partnership. She has since apologized. We guess she learned that you can’t sow negativity and not reap clapbacks!

The Best of Us

ICYMI, here are some of our favorite ZORA stories

A Compassionate Guide to Traveling During a Pandemic by Nneka M. Okona

How Holly Robinson-Peete Bought Black Love to Hallmark Christmas by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs

Write Your Way to Healing with These 4 Journaling Tips by Jolie A. Doggett

Why the Runoff for Georgia Senate Matters by Anjali Enjeti

Let’s Celebrate Representation Without Putting Politicians on a Pedestal by Nicole Froio

HBCU Graduates Are Finally Getting the Recognition We Deserve by Nrooks

🗣️ The Last Word 🗣️

“We are going to have to learn to think in radical terms… It means facing a system that does not lend itself to your needs and devising means by which you change that system.” ― Ella Baker

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