'It feels like enslavement': This working mom owes $240,000 in student loans. Now she's fighting for full cancellation to live her American Dream 'freely.'

Brooks told Insider that she owes more than $200,000 in student loans.
Brooks told Insider that she owes more than $200,000 in student loans.  
  • A California educator says that she owes more than $200,000 in student loans.

  • Richelle Brooks, a principal in South LA, has joined the fight to cancel student loan debt for all.

  • She told Insider that a major part of her fight for relief is to give her children a future without crippling debt.

One of Richelle Brooks' dreams is to send her two children to college without taking out any loans. She knows firsthand how taking out a loan to pursue higher education can amount to crippling debt.

"My daughter wants to be an anesthesiologist. My son wants to be a computer engineer. Two little Black kids want this for their future," Brooks, 35, told Insider. "And this country is telling me it's impossible for me to get them there. It's a terrible, hopeless feeling."

Brooks borrowed $203,000 collectively to attend undergrad, graduate, and doctoral studies. And over the years, has accumulated over $30,000 in interest.

"Yeah, $240,000," Brooks said.

In 2020, she decided to politicize her inability to pay back her loans. Apart of the Debt Collective, she joined a group of strikers called the "Biden Jubilee 100," calling on the president to cancel student debt within the early days of being in office.

Brooks' American dream is simple.

"My hope is that if my student loan debt balance is canceled, I can start saving for them and planning for their future," she said. "But I'm also hoping that we can get a free college education so that I don't have to also worry about how to finance their future either."

Black student loan borrowers typically have more debt than white college graduates, according to experts.


Dr. Brooks (middle) and other members of the Debt Collective outside of the White House.Courtesy of Dr. Richelle Brooks

Living in California as a single mother is financially taxing, she said. She works as a principal in South Los Angeles, a career which she adores, but she often has to have a side hustle to live comfortably.

With the burden of student loan debt, saving money for the future is not a luxury for many Black borrowers.

Recent data highlights that Black borrowers disproportionately have more student loan debt, on average paying back $25,000 than their white peers, according to Education Data Initiative.

"Black borrowers have to take out more student debt to go to school, and Black women take out more student loan debt than any other group," Cody Hounanian, Executive Director of the Student Debt Cris Center, told Insider. "For a majority of Black borrowers, they owe more after 12 years of being in repayment than they originally borrowed."

And for Black borrowers who pursue want to go beyond a bachelor's degree, they often, on average, have just over $50,000 in debt, with 45% being from grad school, per Education Data Initiative. Another factor to consider is that Black grads are subjected to lesser pay once employed, making it difficult to pay off their overwhelming debt.

Biden last week said his administration plans to forgive $10,000 in federal student-loan debt for borrowers earning under $125,000 per year, with up to $20,000 in relief for those who received Pell grants and fall under the same income threshold. However, for borrowers like Brooks, it's not enough.

Brooks decided to continue to go to school because she could not pay back her loan, a personal method of striking that she's been doing since 2012. However, the student repayment pause during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a temporary weight off her shoulders and gave her a break from attending school.

"So many demands are put on me already in addition to having to stay in school because I can't pay this debt. It feels like enslavement," Brooks said. "Getting those notices, it's slightly traumatic. [The pause] gives you a sense of relief, a sense of hope, because you're not constantly weighed down by this idea of that monthly payment."

'I really just want the space to hope and dream freely'

Democratic lawmakers such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezRep. Cori Bush, and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, have been pushing for student loan forgiveness - and since Biden announced his student loan relief plan, progressive lawmakers are demanding more relief.

Eliminating student loan debt could potentially close the racial wealth gap. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge has highlighted that the student loan crisis is making it more difficult for Black people to own real estate.

And according to Hounanian, it puts another roadblock to obtaining generational wealth.

Student loan debt hinders Black people, even with the highest of degrees, "who just never can access the benefits that an education was intended for," Hounanian said.

"The National Association of Realtors have said that student loan debt's one of the top issues preventing Black people from purchasing homes… and that also perpetuates the generational wealth issue," he continued. "So it really has a domino effect that impacts their finances for years to come after they attend school."

Brooks called it a "dream deferred."

"As soon as we reach one goal, the goal post is moved," she said. "It always feels like we're drowning, and as soon as we come up for air, we're pushed back under again."

She added, "When I went to college, it was sold to me, this is a way to achieve success. This is a way to upward mobility in this country. You become a college-educated person, and then you can buy a home, and you can travel. You're afforded some freedoms and luxuries due to your hard work, right? And it just wasn't true."

In addition to canceling up to $20,000 for individuals that earn less than $125,000, the president also extended the payment pause to December.

The National Association of the Advancement for Colored People (NACCP) acknowledged the progress, but Derrick Johnson - president of the organization -called for the cancellation of $50,000 or more.

"I'm tired of this. It's a mental constraint. We're straddled with this balance that is hanging over our heads, and it's heartbreaking. It's emotionally fasting," Brooks said.

"And I'm drained today, especially because I've been fighting for a while. And I feel like I've been given crumbs. I really just want the space to hope and dream freely."


More Related News

One Star Minerals Limited (ASX:SMS) insider upped their stake in the previous year
One Star Minerals Limited (ASX:SMS) insider upped their stake in the previous year

Viewing insider transactions for Star Minerals Limited's ( ASX:SMS ) over the last year, we see that insiders were net...

When will student loans be forgiven? What to know about debt relief applications.
When will student loans be forgiven? What to know about debt relief applications.

Student loan debt cancellation application forms are slated to arrive this month. Here's what you need to know now so your debt relief isn't delayed.

Biden's Student Debt Plan Attracts Lawsuits, Scams and Confusion

WASHINGTON - President Joe Biden's program to erase large amounts of student loan debt attracted criticism immediately after it was announced in August and, ...

The US Navy said
The US Navy said 'traces' of jet fuel were found in the water on the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz. A sailor says the problem was way worse.

"We were exposed to an unhealthy amount" of jet fuel, a sailor told Insider, adding that they believe the seriousness of the situation was downplayed.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply


  • mpo4d
    (2022-08-29 06:11:03Z)

    Neat blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would really make my blog stand out.

    Please let me know where you got your design. Thanks

  • Apple
    (2022-08-31 07:06:17Z)

    Ahaa, its nice conversation on the topic of this paragraph at
    this place at this blog, I have read all that, so now me also commenting here.

  • jos777
    (2022-09-01 12:02:51Z)

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice,
    keep it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road.
    All the best

  • cialis pharmacy
    (2022-09-04 10:39:30Z)

    canadian-medications internet pharmacy alternative to viagra
    canada drugs cialis pharmacy rx one viagra generic brand

  • costco pharmacy
    (2022-09-04 12:28:35Z)

    viagra-canada cialis canadian pharmacy cialis online pharmacy
    viagra online generic canadian-pharmacy-online viagra for cheap

  • jp34zsdtlql
    (2022-09-09 18:24:04Z)

    nbwvwzwgduy brand viagra online buy brand cialis online canada viagra online order cheap viagra online online pharmacies canada
    canada prescriptions no prescription pharmacy cost of cialis at walgreens what is the price of cialis in canada purchase cialis from canada
    where can i get viagra without a prescription order viagra online pharmacy canada best canadian drugstore taking viagra

  • rgtxvf0i8jr
    (2022-09-09 21:05:04Z)

    tivivzglo9b buying viagra online northwestpharmacy .com order cialis from canada buy cialis online in canada canadian rx prices
    generic viagra india viagra pharmacy us pharmacy cialis best canadian pharmacies shipping to usa viagra without a doctor prescription canada
    online pharmacy canada alternatives to viagra cheap viagra without prescription canadian pharmacy no prescription women taking viagra

  • vphjrx4zofq
    (2022-09-10 08:54:52Z)

    jwy2npiaws3 drug world canada list of canada online pharmacies ed drugs online from canada online drugs cheap canadian drugs
    viagra prices canadian pharmacy and cialis hypnosis orgasm buy viagra from canada cialis mexico pharmacy
    ed meds online cialis over the counter in canada order cialis online canada online pharmacy canada canadian pharmacy viagra online

  • dr7kragxj7p
    (2022-09-10 11:12:02Z)

    lav7jg3jdj2 meds canada cheap viagra online canada pharmacy taking viagra cheap viagra from canada where can i get viagra without a prescription
    drugs without prescription generic viagra canadian buy drugs online canadian pharmacy meds northwest canadian pharcharmy online
    tadalafil 20 mg in canada price for cialis in canada viagra from india viagra pfizer buy canadian drugs without prescription

  • glucotrust discount
    (2022-09-14 01:50:40Z)


  • 먹튀검증
    (2022-09-14 08:59:28Z)

    What's up everyone, it's my first pay a quick visit at this web page, and piece of writing is in fact fruitful in favor of
    me, keep up posting these types of posts.

  • For hottest news you have to pay a quick visit internet
    and on internet I found this site as a most excellent website
    for newest updates.

  • news
    (2022-09-15 14:07:46Z)

    I like the valuable information you provide in your articles.
    I'll bookmark your weblog and check again here frequently.
    I'm quite sure I'll learn lots of new stuff right here!
    Good luck for the next!

  • sbobet777 mobile
    (2022-09-17 14:27:56Z)

    Hey very nice blog!

  • dg82nlhg8xa
    (2022-09-28 10:15:04Z)

    bkpimbutdj0 buy cheap viagra online canadian cialis reviews viagra online canada pharmacy viagra instructions viagra online canada pharmacy
    canadian pharmacy viagra online buying viagra in canada buying viagra canadian pharmacy cialis 20mg buy cialis online canada pharmacy
    cialis usa pharmacy canada viagra online drugstore in canada online prescription drugs viagra best price

  • zcopzv9l6xj
    (2022-09-29 00:07:27Z)

    ynx6i3kbi41 canadian med pills from canada canadian drug store price of viagra online pharmacies in usa
    women taking viagra medication without prescription alternative viagra purchase viagra viagra from canada
    cheap generic drugs cheap generic viagra female viagra walmart drug prices without insurance low price viagra

  • krzfl2nfz46
    (2022-09-29 02:41:07Z)

    nvdzin0dp4x order viagra where to buy viagra generic viagra from india canadian meds viagra real viagra
    cialis of canada order cheap viagra cialis of canada order cialis in canada discount cialis canada
    medicine from canada northwestpharmacy .com canadian-drugs viagra pills universal pharmacy


Top News: Latin America