Category Archives: Opinion

New Article: “America Turned the Greatest Vehicle of Social Mobility Into a Debt Machine”

New Article: Tressie McMillan, America Turned the Greatest Vehicle of Social Mobility Into a Debt Machine, N.Y. Times (May 21, 2022). Excerpt below:

If it weren’t for all of the Black women students milling about, Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C., would be the picture of Hollywood’s idea of a small liberal arts college. The red-brick architecture anchors a manicured quad. Wide footpaths crisscross the small but tidy commons.

And then a brick wall announces a boundary not quite breached by the surrounding area’s racial segregation and economic precarity. But it is a half wall, one on which you can sit and stare outside the bubble toward the reality from which students arrive. As metaphors go, it is a strong one: Black colleges like Bennett cannot afford to build a wall so high that the world does not intrude.

Op-ed: “Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?”

Op-ed: Ian Leahy & Yaryna Serkez, Since When Have Trees Existed Only for Rich Americans?, N.Y. Times, June 30, 2021 [includes good graphics comparing neighborhoods]. 

New Opinion: How Lower-Income Americans Get Cheated on Property Taxes

How Lower-Income Americans Get Cheated on Property Taxes, N.Y. Times (Apr. 3, 2021).

The Editorial Board of the New York Times wrote an opinion piece on how many “homeowners are paying a total of billions of dollars more because of inequalities in assessing property values.”

New Opinion: Restoring Pell Grants—and Possibilities—for Prisoners

Clint Smith, Restoring Pell Grants—and Possibilities—for Prisoners, The Atlantic (Mar. 11, 2021).

Classes inside prison give people a sense of community, a sense of purpose, a sense of identity, and a sense of hope.

New Op-Ed: The Way Out of America’s Zero-Sum Thinking on Race and Wealth

Heather C. McGhee, The Way Out of America’s Zero Sum Thinking on Race and Wealth, N.Y. Times (Feb. 13, 2021). Subhead below:

Margaret Bourke-White/The Life Picture Collection – Getty Images, via Art Resource, NY

The evidence shows we all lose the society’s overwhelmed by white resentment and win when we organize across our differences.

New Op-Ed: The New Debt Prisons

Gene B. Sperling, The New Debt Prisons, N.Y. Times (Feb. 16, 2021).

Introduction Below:

While controversial calls to “defund the police” have grabbed headlines, we urgently need to examine how we fund the police today. The increasing use of excessive fees, fines, and surcharges to fund parts of our criminal justice system is creating punitive debt traps for millions of low-income Americans leaving prison. Many find themselves in an economic prison: prevented from paying down their debts by the debts themselves. Others are so entrapped that they are actually reincarcerated for unpaid debt. Either way, they are denied the dignity of a real second chance — and a fresh start to pursue one’s purpose and to contribute to family, community and country.