Students who graduated last year had more than $37,000 in student-loan debt alone, not to mention credit card debt. A recent Citizens Bank survey showed that nearly six in 10 millennials regretted their borrowing, also showing that many lacked the knowledge to effectively address their debt or make informed financial decisions.
Colleges are stepping in and offering financial-literacy courses, sometimes at the behest of politicians and or even the Department of Education. But these courses are actually racist, argue two professors in a newly published paper in the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review.
The paper, written by Duke’s William A. Darity and the New School’s Darrick Hamilton, argues that financial-literacy courses presume that the problem is simply that students of color lack of financial responsibility or financial knowledge.
“The problem with this language is the implicit notion that the racial wealth gap is a matter of financial literacy, choice and agency, as opposed to inheritance as structure. … Ultimately, by defining the central problem facing the Black community, as not the deep- seated structures that perpetuate racism and inequality, but, rather, deficiencies internal to Blacks themselves, the focus of policy becomes the rehabilitation of the Black family,” write Darity and Hamilton.
The real problem, Darity and Hamilton argue, is that too many black and Hispanic students begin at a disadvantage; they’re poor, and without money, and so financial-literacy programs are irrelevant.
A non-racist solution: Taxpayers should fund so-called “baby bonds” for children born into low-income families, Darity and Hamilton propose. By the time these children reach college age, depending on their family’s wealth, they would have between $20,000 and $60,000 in federal funds set aside for an education or business endeavor.
— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for Heat Street and is a fellow for the Steamboat Institute and the Independent Women’s Forum.