By the end of 2020, federal student loan debt in the United States surpassed $1.7 trillion, increasing by over 100% in the last decade. While this has become a national crisis impacting nearly 45 million borrowers, Black women are the most heavily burdened. A 2020 report by the AAUW indicates that Black women, on average, hold over $37,000 in loans each, compared to $31,346 held by white women, and $29,862 held by white men. As a whole, Black women, despite being the most institutionally educated demographic in the U.S., have a total of $35 billion in student loan debt.Furthermore, 57% of Black female college graduates indicate that they struggle to repay their student loans. While white borrowers are able to pay back an average of 10% of their total student loan debt each year, Black borrowers are only able to pay an average of 4% back, largely due to racial pay disparity.
Laurel Taylor is the Founder and CEO of FutureFuel.io, a student loan repayment platform that uses innovative, technology driven solutions for customers to pay down student debt quickly and efficiently. Financial wellness and equal opportunities should go hand in hand, however, historically that’s not always the case. Regardless of one’s diverse background, financial literacy should be at the forefront of an overall healthy relationship with financial wellness. Laurel has used her own personal experiences with student debt as a catalyst to founding FutureFuel.io and dedicating her life to help those burdened with student debt.
In the aftermath of tragic police violence and subsequent street protests, many US corporations and other organizations have issued ritualistic and formulaic statements declaring their support for Black Lives Matter and decrying racism. What does this mean, and what will they do to follow through? Many of these companies already have diversity programs and are already required to comply with state and federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations. A number of states, cities, and counties have broader non-discrimination prohibitions than the federal government, for example, to include LGBTQ status.
The larger companies employ Chief Diversity Officers (CDOs) or someone with a different title but similar responsibilities. The vast majority of people in these positions are African-American females. Some are male, and some are Hispanic. A few are white females. Almost none of the CDOs are members of the executive teams of these companies. Diversity does not occupy a place similar to core missions, such as production, operations, marketing/sales/ advertising/branding, finance, legal, logistics, supply chain, health and safety, etc. Only a relatively small percent of companies report their diversity demographics publicly, and almost none disaggregate the figures by level of employment, pay grade, responsibility, etc.
From 1868 (and a 14th amendment that gave birth to black “Americans”) to 1968 (which saw the brutal murder of a black Christian preacher whose elevated voice of the oppressed was silenced), 100 years of segregationist policies and practices protected and preserved white supremacy and oppressed nonwhites.
Those policies & practices didn’t die with the reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They remain in place today, more than 50 years later, in every city in America.
Guide to critical factors that drive and sustain our structural inequity
As we enter 2020, I call on all people to rise, unite and fight against structural inequity and the factors that influence and perpetuate it. To that end, this piece explores two foundational factors that drive and sustain inequity in our society: uneven playing fields in education and economic. I believe that the only way to meaningfully bridge the inequity gap in all aspects of our society is through leveling the playing field, and that is the subject of this piece.
The partial shutdown that President Trump and two branches of government agreed to lift temporarily left thousands of families with no income, with many forced to work without a paycheck, relying on reimbursement in the vague future. Their unemployment and indentured servitude has put a spotlight on their need for the basics of survival. The idea of these families going hungry has affected all of us and the impact is growing. It’s impressive that people are helping them with donations, restaurants are serving free meals, and food pantries are gearing up for waves of new clients. Let’s hope that the generosity and humanity currently on display remains alive and well after the resolution of the shutdown.