I am transparent with a lot of things. In my lifetime, I’ve obtained four college degrees (and will soon begin working on my fifth). They all serve a specific purpose in my journey as an educator, writer, social justice advocate, leader, and fine-ass renaissance man. I call myself a lifelong learner on purpose.
Furthermore, no qualms exist in revealing that I have amassed nearly half-a-million dollars in student debt. I want to be the best and most prepared I can be. The fact that I am being punished for this by owing an insurmountable amount of money saddens me.
In theory, we should be able to obtain whatever degree we want, if we choose. The idea of a financial burden because of education attainment is both archaic and direct anthesis to what this country is supposed to be about: being the greatest and the most equipped.
My preferred method to the madness is to stand true to the general stance that I have never planned to pay off a single dime of my student loan debt. Amongst friends, I have made it clear that there would have to be a bloody standoff before I agree to pay both taxes and student loan debt. But I’m not naive to the notion that such would mean catastrophic things to my credit score. And, as much as the next person, I want to be able to purchase a home to help avoid the next housing mortgage crash. But if I start paying these loans off and I ain’t got it, whose fault is that?
Life in America is a big scam.
The language associated with financial aid repayment is traumatizing. We are given “aid” because of the rising costs of education, a problem created long before us, not because we did anything necessitating it. As if we have done anything worthy of “forgiveness,” we will not be gaslit into believing that education is a luxury instead of a right.
In the spirit of multiple truths existing at once, I can state that I’m simultaneously happy and saddened by President Joe Biden’s student debt relief announcement. Some of the terms within it are pretty good, and I’m ecstatic that the ongoing conversation has yielded any positive results. However, I will not ignore the lingering feeling that most of us are begging for release from the burden of higher education debt.
My mind reverts to the belief that we teach our young people, a belief I taught every single student that entered my classroom: You can be anything you want to be. Yet, we neglect to tell them what that entails. For many of us who have taken the journey through academia, we do it for the first time in our respective families’ history. We understand the risks involved. We sign our lives and wallets away to the predatory big business that is academia before we even complete our first (unpaid) internships. We become set up to fail before we even begin.
Before I go any further, I want to send a direct message to the boomers and everyone else who has an issue with the idea of canceling student loan debt: you all need to get over it.
Other people have done the brunt work of outlining the vast differences in terms of economics comparing 2022 to times past. I’m glad I don’t have to because I wasn’t going to anyway. So instead, I will speak to the infuriating discourse surrounding this bill that has brought out self-proclaimed “what about me” martyrs. These people who have been lucky enough to either ultimately pay off their debt or not have to take out student loans are looking down on others. And now they are wholly dismayed that others may get off “easy.”
I want to address the bitterness by laughing out loud at their feelings as I type this sentence. But that would make me as foolish as the naysayers. To be clear: I care how long someone has taken to pay off their debt. I care that people have had to work through school, paying for their schooling without ever taking out a loan. Their dedication is not something to dismiss. But, newsflash: nobody should have to do any of that. So, do not dismiss those of us who have not. We (especially those underpaid and overworked *ahem* teachers, women and/or Black people) do not deserve to have this delinquency looming over our heads.
After all, I believe the world should get better and more accessible for those who come after us. I yearn for the day when nieces, nephews, godchildren, and former students do not have to worry about how to finance their education. Of course, I will be ecstatic to know they will not have to suffer under this financial regime. And, hell no, I do not want them to experience anything that I’ve gone through in this regard. The idea of “[repeated] suffering builds character” is toxic, and you all need to stop that.
America owes us this.
We watch over and over as other entities (banks, Wall Street, etc.) get bailed out. We witness other countries like Ukraine get financial support. It is not that those countries do not need it, which is why my ire is never at the receivers but the giver. But in this instance, “what about me” is a valid stance. How much longer do we watch outsiders reap the benefits of financial relief while we suffer in silence? And don’t even get me riled up on what livable wages and reparations America owes us as Black people (minus Candace Owens and her like).
I want to reiterate that President Biden is doing a good thing. I applaud it for being a step in the right direction. But I’m calling out for more. I don’t want anyone to owe anything. The very investment that we as [Black] Americans place into a country that does not serve us necessitates an equitable return — or this Nation is further doomed to fail. Accepting the bare minimum is not going to help any of us; the hypocritical naysayers should know that better than anyone.