COLUMBUS, Ohio — Black women carry more student loan debt than any other group, and a national petition has been launched to cancel $50,000 in student debt for every borrower.
Supporters say it would help build a better future for Black women.
More than 28,000 people already have signed the petition asking the Biden administration to cancel the debt, which advocates argued would help close the racial wealth gap by at least 20%.
Shakya Cherry-Donaldson, executive director of the nonprofit 1000 Women Strong, said there is not enough focus on solutions to liberate Black women from the ever-growing burden of debt.
"We know that a Black woman who graduates with a bachelor's degree is paid the same as a white man who has a high school diploma; a Black woman with a master's degree is paid the same as a white man with a bachelor's degree," Cherry-Donaldson outlined. "We cannot catch up, even with the education and the experience on our side."
U.S. Department of Education data show significant race-based differences in the amount of debt that students of color assume and can readily pay. The goals of the campaign and petition are to empower Black women and close the gap on current trends.
Studies show African American families are more likely to borrow than white, Latino or Asian families, and Black women are often the primary breadwinners.
Cherry-Donaldson pointed out they are looking for opportunities to build wealth.
"For our current families, but also to invest in things such as property; real estate, starting our own businesses, that all require capital or some type of loan process," Cherry-Donaldson explained. "We are completely shut out because we are holding the burden of student debt."
She added the group hopes to find an ally in Kamala Harris, given her background as the first female, first Black and first Asian American vice president.