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Canceling Student Debt Can Help Build Black Women’s Futures

Black woman in cap and gown holds a diploma
We don’t need more shallow praise for “saving” the nation — we need Biden to cancel our student debt.
Black woman in cap and gown holds a diploma
Shakya Cherry-Donaldson,
Executive Director, 1000 Women Strong
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June 10, 2021

I’m proud to lead a nationwide constituency of Black women dedicated to organizing around issues that greatly impact us, our families, households, and communities — including financial independence. Black women carry more student loan debt than any other group, and this is a direct result of the racial wealth gap and gender pay gap we are up against. We are the most educated demographic group in this country, yet we are not guaranteed the same economic security as our educated white peers. The student loan debt crisis is one of the leading drivers of this inequality. That’s why today 1000 Women Strong joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union and others in the fight to cancel $50,000 in student loan debt. Our aim is to liberate Black women from this burden and forge ahead to build better futures.

This partnership to the ACLU complements our recently launched national campaign, Cancel Student Debt: Build Black Women’s Futures. We are lifting our voices and sounding the alarm on this critical issue, and will no longer be sidelined in this conversation. This campaign’s purpose is to engage thousands of Black women around their own personal stories and experiences as the most educated, yet poorest demographic. It is imperative that we continue to pressure President Biden and his administration to cancel $50,000 of this debt for every borrower.

Black women have always and will continue to stand at the forefront of civic and social change, but no longer at the cost of our well-being or the people we care for. The student debt crisis has prevented millions of Americans, especially Black women and our families, from being able to save to buy a home, start a family, start a business, or plan for retirement. So often, we are the primary breadwinners for our families. But the burden of student loan debt often forces us to make difficult decisions between paying off student loans or being able to save and build wealth for our families. No longer should we suffer from the relentless and the ever-growing burden of this debt, more than any other demographic, while being shallowly praised for “saving” everyone.

Brittany Boomer, a nurse practitioner living in Los Angeles, California with her husband, two sons, and newborn daughter, dreams of becoming a homeowner and building generational wealth for her children. But the challenges of living on a limited salary, raising three small children, and keeping up with increasing household living expenses, she worries about what legacy she can leave for her family with the mountain of student loan debt she racked up from attending college. For Brittany, student debt cancellation would mean being able to save and work towards building financial stability and mobility for her family.

For Brittany, a frontline health care worker who was asked to care for the nation, and so many Black women like her including myself, student loan debt feels like a big dark cloud looming over our heads. How can we begin to think about establishing a financial future when the burden of this debt continues to rise to the surface each month? This is why 1000 Women Strong’s mission is to help more than 100,000 Black women use their voices and take collective action to ensure the Biden administration gets the message and cancels student loan debt now.

Canceling student debt will benefit Black women, but it will also alleviate an unrelenting pressure and obstacle for millions of other families across the country. This action can help close the racial wealth gap by over 20 percent — securing financial stability and economic mobility for Black, Latinx, and other people of color who are disproportionately burdened by loans, while addressing the debt crisis for millions. Families that desire a greater quality of life will be given the opportunity to build wealth for themselves, their children, and the next generation — as well as a pathway to financial freedom. 1000 Women Strong is proud to work with the ACLU in championing the economic freedom of Black women and those we share community with. We call on President Biden to cancel student debt now.

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