*The annual season of college commencements have a unique way of bringing together multiple generations of families in celebration. For the 135th graduating class of Atlanta’s Morehouse College, commencement marked another event that was as unexpected as it was generous.
Robert F. Smith, the event’s speaker who is also Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, announced he would pay the entire class’ student loan debts. This unprecedented gift, expected to run as high as $40 million, now enables the newest Morehouse men to begin careers free from the burdens of debt that accompany the start of many careers. Smith’s generosity also directly affects the lives of multiple family generations who contributed to the sharing costs of these college educations.
In a related interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Yasmin Farahi, policy counsel for the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) reacted to the impact of Smith’s gift “on the lives of these graduates and their families will be incredible,” she said. “But it’s also worth recognizing the impact it has on the lives of their family members who have co-signed on these loans or would otherwise be supporting these graduates as they worked to get out from under their student debt. Student loan debt is an intergenerational problem.”
New research from the AARP Public Policy Institute provides insights on how increasingly older borrowers are taking on debt to help younger family members.
And when it comes to Black families, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are all helping their kin at higher rates than other ethnicities or races. This help can include not only direct borrowing, but also cosigning their student family member’s loans. Should a student borrower default on cosigned loan(s) with family members, the cosigner’s financial stability is jeopardized.
“People ages 50 and older owe 20 percent, or $289.5 billion, of that total, up from $47.3 billion in 2004,” states the report. “The overall increase reflects a sharp rise in both the number of families borrowing and the amounts they borrow…. For many families, the amount they owe increases over time because they are not paying enough to cover interest and pay down principal.” Defaults result in lost tax refunds, garnished wages, and decreased benefits from both Social Security retirement and disability benefits – very real risks for the estimated 8.4 million student loan borrowers ages 50 and over.
The ways in which family members’ share the cost of college enrollment is also changing.
Although the AARP report found that 30% of older Black consumers cosigned private student loans for family members, far more – 45% borrowed on their credit cards. This level of credit card debt exceeds that incurred by Whites (31%), or Latinx (39%).
Further, a disproportionate jump in borrowing from retirement savings accounts are also negatively impacting older Black consumers. While only 6% of comparable Whites used these funds, Black utilization was triple that of Whites at 18%. Older Latinx tapping into retirement savings were more than double that of Whites at 13%.
When the financial impacts of the nation’s racial wealth gap are added to these disparities, it’s little wonder that Black America suffers from acute financial stress. As this column recently reported, Black wealth averages only a dime for every dollar of wealth held by Whites.
Clearly, public policy reforms can and should address this national financial crisis. AARP’s proposed remedies include:
- Increased public investment in higher education;
- Encouraging the use of uniform financial aid award letters so they are more easily compared;
- Ending offsets of Social Security benefits and other federal payments affecting older consumers; and
- Allowing federal Parent PLUS borrowers to enroll directly in income-driven repayment plans.
While these reforms should be heartily supported by the federal government that sets budget priorities, the likelihood of interminable lawmaker debates or neglect still looms large.
This past February, a CRL letter to several U.S. Senators alerted them to the disproportionate impacts of the student loan crisis on consumers of color, as well as a list of remedies to abate the crisis.
“Students of color still face barriers in accessing higher education, still hold disproportionate financial burdens, and still struggle to overcome bad information from servicers,” wrote CRL. “Student loan debt is a real crisis for many people of color, and it exacerbates the racial wealth gap…The time has come for large, systemic change and not tinkering around the edges of the Higher Education Act.”
“Unless bold, new actions are taken,” warned CRL in its letter, “a generation will be trapped in debt undertaken to advance their lives.
Among CRL’s recommendations were to:
- Increase Pell grants and move that funding into the Education Department’s mandatory budget;
- Increase and expand aid for Minority Serving Institutions via Title III and Title V;
- Encourage borrowers to make student debt payments based on 8% of discretionary income, and then discharge any remaining balance after 10-15 years;
- Guarantee that all loan forgiveness be tax-free; and
- Protect borrowers from aggressive collections and benefit garnishment.
While these and other federal aid reforms are debated on Capitol Hill, there remains yet another sphere of influence that could extend the kind of goodwill borne from Mr. Smith’s adoption of Morehouse’s Class of 2019: increased Black philanthropy.
If other highly successful Black businessmen and women, professional athletes, recording artists and others followed Smith’s example, HBCU’s like North Carolina’s Bennett College might not have needed a national emergency financial rescue. With a new infusion of financial resources, more students on college campuses could breathe a financial sigh of relief, knowing that people who look like them provided help beyond their own family’s resources.
Without a doubt, the nation needs more need-based scholarships and grants – especially at HBCUs. If that were to happen, a stronger sense of community could emerge with a renewed sense of pride.
As Mr. Smith said in his May 19th commencement address, “We have nourished the soil with our blood. We ‘ve sown the land with our sweat. We’ve protected this country with our bodies, contributed to the physical, cultural and intellectual fabric of this country with our minds and our talents.”
Here’s hoping that more who have been financially blessed, will choose to pass a portion of assistance to those wanting to earn their way into the nation’s middle class.
Charlene Crowell is the Center for Responsible Lending’s Deputy Communications Director. She can be reached at [email protected].
Nigerian Bread Seller Lands Modeling Contract After Photobombing Rapper’s Shoot
She was discovered on the streets of the city of Lagos by international photographer Ty Bello, who was shooting with English rapper Tinie Tempah. Unintentionally, Orisaguna came out in one of the images.
Days later, Bello shared pictures from that shoot on his social media but with interest of finding out who the bread seller was in the photo.
“WHO IS SHE? Everyone has been asking if this lady is a model… She definitely SHOULD be a model… I’ll find a way to track her down somehow. You guys can also help,“ the photographer captioned the post.
BEATIFULX : WHO IS SHE.Every one has been asking if this lady is a model .. It was just perfect coincidence … She just happened to be walking by while I photographed . It happened so fast .She definitely SHOULD be a model. .. I’m happy to help her build a portfolio if she’s interested .She’s so beautiful and photographed so well. I’ll find a way to track her down somehow . You guys can also help #lagos #doesanyonerecognizeher #okunorentwins #tinietempah @thisdaystyle #lagos #phaseone
As PEOPLE notes, from that moment on, her life changed forever. In less than a year, Orisaguna managed to sign contracts with recognized agencies. Earlier this year, she wrapped up her tour of South Africa and she also launched a vlog and reality show.
“I never expected this would ever happen to me,” she told CNN. “My friends have told me they saw me on the TV and they are really happy. My parents cannot believe their own child can become such a success.”
In March, she celebrated the one year anniversary of her discovery. In an exclusive interview with Pulse in January, Orisaguna spoke about the people who have been influential in her rise to fame. During the interview, she thanked Azuka Ogujuiba of ThisDay Newspaper, as she was instrumental in Olajumoke’s success story.
Orisaguna, who left her two children and husband to sell bread, is now being offered by a bank to pay for her kid’s education through college.
‘Origin of Everything’ on PBS Sparks Interest with Controversial & Everyday Topics (EUR Exclusive!)
*“Origin of Everything,” available on PBS.org, has been exploring topics since 2017 that run the gamut. The show jumps into a variety of subjects by investigating daily life like the words we use, pop culture, and why we are hooked on technology.
The show does not shy away from controversial topics such as slavery, race and ethnicity, and mass incarceration of African Americans.
Danielle Bainbridge, Ph.D., the host and lead writer of “Origin of Everything,” told the EUR in a recent interview that the series is about making people think beyond the restrictive ways we have been taught to view history.
“It’s a show about our collective story and how we are envisioning history,” Dr. Bainbridge said. ”How do we think about history that includes all of us and just not the figures and facts that we were taught in school. So, it’s a show about under told and underrepresented history. We’re trying to make history feel very present to the people who watch it.”
She continued, “One of the reasons to watch it is if you’re curious about how did we get to our current moment? How do small things such as why do we eat popcorn at the movies or what is the origin of ethnicity and how do these things still impact the way we think about the world?”
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Deftly equipped to talk about controversial topics, Dr. Bainbridge holds a Ph.D. in African American Studies and American Studies from Yale University and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in English & Theatre Arts. She is also a faculty member at Northwestern University in Theatre and African American Studies
In early 2017, when she was a graduate student, she was contacted by PBS about working on the show and thought it was a joke.
“When they first reached out to me, I thought it was a hoax,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I was thinking how would they even know who I am because I was a graduate student? But I think they found me through a since defunct janky website that I had set up. They reached out to me, I auditioned, did a screen test, and a writing sample and after that I was hired to help develop the show.”
Viewers are encouraged to be interactive with the series because it is digital. With instant commentary from the audience, the show knows immediately what viewers think, which for the most part is positive. However, when it delves into controversial subject matters things can get sticky.
“I would say overall people are pretty positive about the series because most of the folks who watch it are longtime watchers who tune in every week for episodes,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “The only exception is if we cover more sensitive topics like, race, gender, or sexuality we will get some pushback. I think that’s just the cost of doing business with open discourse.”
One of the most controversial shows was about the transatlantic slave trade.
“We did one episode on why Europeans enslaved Africans and that was probably our most viewed episode as well as our most critiqued one,” Dr. Bainbridge said. “I think often times if you view yourself as pretty well versed in history from what you learn in school and then you learn something that goes in the opposite direction it can be jarring or for some people upsetting. We think of it as our value or service to our audience to present accurate history or history that doesn’t get told that often so that people can be informed with the whole picture.”
She added that she has an answer for those who point out that Africans sold slaves to Europeans.
“Slavery was not invented with West Africans and Europeans,” Dr. Bainbridge continued. “Some form of enslavement – whether through war, becoming a prisoner of war, or through different systems – goes back to ancient societies from around the world. So, it is not distinct to West Africa or Europe or any other region of the world.”
Dr. Bainbridge added, “But the difference with this particular moment in slavery was that it intersected with capitalism in a way that was very different with slavery that preceded it. People were taken into the system and their children inherited their status as a slave and that is where the differences started to emerge. We have to think about these things as distinct only because the system that existed with chattel slavery was so radically different than the slavery that existed around the world beforehand.”
With the ongoing protests against police brutality, “Origin of Everything” has also tackled the racist beginnings of United States law. Dr. Bainbridge breaks down the discriminatory history by looking at colonialism, slavery, the Jim Crow era, and mass incarceration.
“I decided to write this episode about legal discrimination, and I didn’t have a particular agenda in mind,” she said. “As I started doing the research it was overwhelming. I started to find (material) that just dealt with legal discrimination about black people in this country from its origin to now. I thought it was something that people needed to know.”
“I was never taught in any history class that I took through high school any of the information from that episode. I was taught that things are fair and that a lot of the blame was placed inadvertently or inherently on black communities, impoverished communities, or communities that struggle. When I saw that in some ways the law was stacked against black people and certain other populations, I thought that was important to bring to light. In this moment, people are looking for reliable sources and this could add to the conversation.”
New episodes of “Origin of Everything” are available on PBS.org and the PBS Digital Studios’ YouTube Channel. Join the conversation by visiting Twitter-@PBSOrigin and Instagram-@pbsoriginofeverything.
THE REAL: Garcelle is in the Hot Seat About Jamie Foxx! / WATCH
*On Tuesday, Sept. 29, the ladies of The Real have some follow-up questions for co-host Garcelle Beauvais after her revealing conversation with Jamie Foxx on her podcast.
In an outrageous Girl Chat, Garcelle reveals some shocking secrets, and admits she could be interested in a relationship with her former co-star!
Ravi Patel visits to talk about his new HBO Max docuseries, Ravi Patel’s Pursuit Of Happiness, and reveals how he would like to create his own neighborhood.
Rapper YelloPain drops in to explain what inspired him to come up with the song “My Vote Don’t Count,” and the message he wants to get out to young voters.
And Florida teacher Edith Pride explains why she stood up at a Palm Beach County school board meeting to scold parents on their behavior during their children’s distance learning classes, and the responses she has gotten. The hosts of The Real have a special gift for her!
The Ladies Have Some Follow-Up Questions For Garcelle About Jamie Foxx!
Loni Love: Last week, Jamie Foxx, who was your coworker since 1996… y’all were in your little Jamie Foxx Show…
Adrienne Houghton: I loved it.
Loni: He was on your podcast. Your lovely podcast, Going to Bed With Garcelle. And he admitted that you two probably should have been together! And then – this was all on the podcast, because I was listening, I was like, “Ooh, Jamie, really?” – and he also said that every time like y’all did a movie, and you tried to hook up, you had a boyfriend and he was always mad when you had another dude, and he was acting like real funny. And so then you really responded like –
Loni: …Why didn’t you all get together – oh, y’all gotta listen to her podcast, it was good, right? And then you said that Jamie Foxx – you said, “How we gonna be together?” He hung like a horse! I was like, “What’s wrong with that?” So, I just want to know, Garcelle, what’s going with y’all two?
Garcelle Beauvais (laughing): Adrienne’s face! Oh, look at Jeannie!
Jeannie Mai (ear pressed to the camera): Come on! I got some things to know!
Garcelle: Mind your business, Loni. (laughing). Listen, he and I we have such a great friendship. And when he and I were doing The Jamie Foxx Show we sort of had a pact like we weren’t going to date while we’re working together, right? So two weeks before we were done with our hundredth episode, which was amazing in itself, I got engaged! And he was like, “You couldn’t wait! You couldn’t wait two weeks?” So we’ve had a great friendship, I love him, but you know, sometimes like if we got together we probably wouldn’t be the friends that we are right now. What, what are you doing this for Jeannie?
(Jeannie is raising her hand)
Jeannie: Yeah, yeah, I got a question! Anyway, anyway, Garcelle!
(Garcelle is laughing)
Jeannie: How you know how he’s hung?!
(Loni starts laughing)
Adrienne: That’s what I want to know!
Garcelle: We did a hundred –
Adrienne: That’s what I want to know!
Garcelle: -episodes, right? Every now and then he’d have to like rip off a pair of pants, or some kind of, you know, comedic, you know, act, or whatever, however you want to say it. And it came out, honey. It rolled out.
(So much laughter)
Jeannie: Oh my god!
Garcelle: I love him so much!
Adrienne: Wait! I have more asks!
Garcelle: Never say never! But who knows.
Adrienne: You said what were you gonna do with that! And… and, and.. I’m just curious. Is that not your thing? You’re like, no, it’s too much, like?
Garcelle: It’s a bit much!
Adrienne: Oh Lord Jesus.
Garcelle: I’ve said too much, I’ve said too much.
Loni: OK, all right.
Garcelle: Listen to the podcast! Look at Jeannie!
Loni: Listen to the podcast!
(Jeannie is climbing back into her chair)
Jeannie: Can we end the show?
Jeannie: Y’all are single now! Why can’t you do the thing?
Jeannie: Why can’t… I don’t get it!
Garcelle: I don’t know! I mean – I don’t know, I don’t know. I think we’re too much in the Friendzone. I don’t know. But let me tell you – he’s a great kisser. Great kisser.
Jeannie: What are we doing?!!!
Adrienne: These are are reasons for Yes!
Jeannie: What are we doing?
Garcelle (fanning herself): Oh my god, I’m so hot.
Adrienne: You’re literally telling me he’s got everything great about him, but – but… ok, this is real Girl Chat and we keep it very real.
Garcelle: Yes, it’s real.
Jeannie: OK, Garcelle, Garcelle, no, no…
Adrienne: Not just that thing.
Jeannie: Focus this, focus… are you…
Garcelle: So if he asked me out, I would say yes. Can I leave it there?
About THE REAL
THE REAL is a live daily, one-hour, two-time NAACP Image Award-winning and Emmy®-nominated talk show now in its seventh season on Fox Television Stations and in national syndication (check local listings), with a rebroadcast on cable network Bounce. The bold, diverse and outspoken hosts, Garcelle Beauvais and Emmy® Award-winners Adrienne Houghton, Loni Love and Jeannie Mai, all frankly say what women are actually thinking. Their unique perspectives are brought to life through candid conversations about their personal lives, current events, beauty, fashion and relationships (nothing is off limits). Unlike other talk shows, THE REAL hosts are admittedly a “work in progress,” and fearlessly invite viewers to reflect on their own lives and opinions. Fresh points of view, youthful energy and passion have made THE REAL a platform for multicultural women. Produced by Telepictures Productions and distributed by Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, THE REAL is led by Executive Producer, Rachel Miskowiec (Good Morning America, Katie, The Tyra Banks Show, Judge Hatchett, The Ricki Lake Show) and Co-Executive Producer Tenia Watson (Judge Mathis, Lauren Lake’s Paternity Court, WGN-TV Morning News, Just Keke, The Test) and shot in Los Angeles, California.
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