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Ayanna Pressley: You ‘Can’t Be Anti-Racist’ If You Don’t Support Canceling Student Debt

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.) speaks in Boston, Mass., March 24, 2021. (Brian Snyder/Reuters)

Representative Ayanna Pressley (D., Mass.) on Monday said that people can’t be “anti-racist” unless they are in favor of canceling student debt.

The progressive “Squad” member shared a Washington Post article about student debt in a tweet. Along with the article, which shared the stories of people with student loan debts, she wrote: “You can’t be anti-racist if you’re anti student debt cancellation.”

Roughly 54 percent of student debt is owed by “white and caucasian student borrowers,” according to EducationData.org. Black and African American college graduates owe an average of $25,000 more in student loan debt than white college graduates, the organization says.

Pressley’s comments come as a number of Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.),  have pressed President Biden to cancel student debt via executive order, though he has expressed opposition to doing so.

Warren last week said student loan debt cancellation is “a matter of racial, economic and generational justice.”

However, during a CNN town hall in February, Biden was asked how he would provide $50,000 in federal student loan forgiveness.

“I will not make that happen,” Biden said. 

He added: “My point is I understand the impact of debt, and it can be debilitating. I am prepared to write off the $10,000 debt but not $50 [thousand], because I don’t think I have the authority to do it.” 

While Schumer and Warren called on Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt in December, Biden has said he does not believe the president has the unilateral authority to cancel student debt.

Schumer and Warren issued a joint statement at the time arguing that “Presidents Obama and Trump used their executive authority to cancel student loan debt.”

The pair said at the time that they were “confident [the Biden administration] will agree with the standards Obama and Trump used as well as leading legal experts who have concluded that the administration has broad authority to immediately deliver much-needed relief to millions of Americans.”

“An ocean of student loan debt is holding back 43 million borrowers and disproportionately weighing down Black and Brown Americans,” Schumer and Warren said.

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