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Good News! Student Loan Forgiveness AND Black Family Gets their $20M Land Back

· student loans,debt forgiveness,reparations,Bruce's Beach,eminent domain

I paid off my student loans a long time ago.

And yet, I believe in debt forgiveness.

It’s the only way to even the playing field for people who can't afford college in the U.S. and have to take out loans.

I definitely was one of those students. My parents did not pay for my college education, and between scholarships, working 3 jobs while balancing a full load of classes, I still owed about $35,000 in student loans when I left NYU.

Last week, President Biden's administration started to look at overhauling student loans.

The proposed changes include debt cancellation for borrowers who were lied to or taken advantage of by for-profit schools. In addition, those who qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, may be able to get their debt cancelled sooner. The next phase is to look at how interest is calculated when borrowers are struggling to repay their loan and of course, how much to forgive.

Yes, it looks like forgiveness is on the horizon!

I mean these days, NYU (and a lot of private universities) aren't affordable for most people.

When I was a development executive for AwesomenessTV/Dreamworks, I had an intern who asked me to write him a letter of recommendation to transfer to NYU.

He was accepted, but he couldn’t go because he didn’t get enough scholarships or grants to cover the $60,000+ per year in tuition (and that amount was a couple of years ago). He lived in South Los Angeles, with his mother, and they just didn’t have the means to pay that kind of money. I believe NYU lost out on a smart, talented student, who now works for Netflix and will probably do something great in the future.

In most 1st world countries, university is FREE. If you want to attend grad school, then you’ll have to pay. However, other countries believe in education not just up to high school, but all the way through secondary education because we all know that without a college education, your income is limited.

In fact, in a previous blog post, I mentioned that according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, if you only have a high school diploma, you’re making an average of $38,792 per year. With a Bachelor’s Degree, you make an average of $64,896 per year, which is close to double.

In that same blog post, I talked about reparations.

Well, I have some good news to report!

Since I wrote that blog post in February of this year... L.A. County has officially returned land it took from a Black family, almost a 100 years ago!

Charles and Willa Bruce, 1886

Willa and Charles Bruce started a beachside resort in Manhattan Beach in 1912. It was popular with Black families, but they and their patrons received constant racist threats and attacks. In 1924, the county seized it through eminent domain (for a very small amount of money - about $14,500). The commemorative plaque (below) probably went up in the 1960s at the same time a park was created on the Bruce's land.

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After the George Floyd murder in 2020, L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn started the process to return the property to the Bruce's descendants.

"We can't change the past, and we will never be able to make up for the injustice that was done to Willa and Charles Bruce a century ago. But this is a start." -Supervisor Janice Hahn

Today, the property is worth an estimated $20 million dollars, and the county will rent the land from Bruce's descendants for $413,000/year until they decide they want to sell.

"Hopefully, we'll be able to receive some more inheritance from that, the generational wealth -- because this is something that our family was really robbed of" - Anthony Bruce, great-great grandson of Charles and Willa Bruce

L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell says "getting to this point has required sacrifices from the Bruce families that can never be repaid. We have a responsibility to learn from it and to do what is right today." She goes on to say:

"This is but one step in our effort to acknowledge true American history, and not deny it, and ways in which government can step up and think outside of the box about how we repay and return properties to rightful owners." -Supervisor Holly Mitchell

Speaking of the government stepping up and thinking outside of the box. I want to advocate for the government to do so, when it comes to student loans. President Biden mentioned in the past that he would consider forgiving $10,000 for anyone making under $150,000, however, that’s not equitable, in my opinion.

I really believe that they should consider a percentage of people’s incomes.

I would say anything more than 10% of someone’s annual income should be forgiven.

So, if you make $50,000 per year, anything greater than $5000 should be forgiven. So, let’s say you have $10,000 of student loans, then I would like to propose that $5000 of it be forgiven. If you make $100,000 per year, then anything greater than $10,000 should be forgiven. So, if you had $35,000 of student loans, like I did, then $25,000 of it would be forgiven.

This is equitable because it’s a percentage of someone’s income, so again, it’s not a blanket amount for every person. Instead, it’s based on how much you’re currently making, so that you have a better chance of actually paying it off.

President Biden has already said that he’s forgiving student loan debt for anyone defrauded by a for-profit secondary education school, and now it’s time for him to do even more. Between the pandemic and now with the high inflation we’re experiencing, anyone who graduated in the last 2 years will definitely need this assistance, and it could help them the most, especially since most graduates make the least amount of money at the beginning of their career.

I would love for everyone to support student loan forgiveness. Write to your local congressperson and/or senators. Let’s collectively create this more equitable movement. If you’re also a Christian, the Bible talks about forgiveness, and it’s not a coincidence that we are calling it a student loan forgiveness. No one has done anything wrong, so to be able to lessen the burden on loans is the right thing to do. And if you feel like, well, I paid off my student loans, so should everyone else, I want you to remember how great it felt when you did it!

Personally, I was ecstatic when I finally paid off my student loans.

I want you to see it as a privilege to support someone else getting their student loans paid off and being able to give someone else the gift of that excitement and relief.

With Forgiveness, Reparations and Gratitude,

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P.S. What was your college/university experience? I would love to know and continue the conversation. Did you work? Did you have student loans? Did your parents pay for school? Also, let's celebrate Bruce's descendants! Please subscribe and comment below!