We Pay The Same Amount For College?

african american female graduate close up

*I felt like ranting after a conversation with a friend. My fingers typed and my brain tried to keep up. I mean everything here, I just hope it came out properly. I refuse to reread and edit. *

Here we are in high school with all these forces and powers in our face telling us how important it is to continue our education once we finish here. They’re right, after all. Continued education is a must for anyone who wants to get free [from whatever is binding]. Continued education does not have to mean college, after all, many dummies graduate from college. Continued education is a dedication to lifelong learning, and open mindedness. In this moment, though, let’s make it exclusively mean going to college.

Here we are in high school and these forces are telling us to aim high, make all goals lateral. College is how we are going to achieve these goals. Here go the brochures coming in, and smack dab in the middle of the cover is a face that looks like it could be related to you. Here comes FLOTUS cheering you on, and here comes her husband and his ticket mate, cosigning. Hit the switch on your TV and you’ll see all the commercials of companies that are ready to help decorate your dorm room and your apartment, and ready to help your parents turn that spare space that used to be your bedroom into an office.

Everyone is excited for you, but no one is talking about the elephant in the room or the unleveled playing field she’s standing on. No one’s talking about how college is still a fairly new concept for us, and while some families have been saving for generations to make sure Meredith and Gregory make it to the Ivory Tower, some families are still trying to make ends meet because of the systematic racism that so damn hard to escape.

If no one is denying the playing field is uneven, why must we pay the same amount to play? If the powers and forces that are in our face are not willing to publicly say “everyone here has the same opportunity from birth to death” with a straight face, why are they allowed to say “tuition is $50k a year for each student?”

Keisha (black) talking about going to the same college as Meredith (white) is exciting and simultaneously scary for Keisha’s mom and dad because they haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as Meredith’s mom and dad in this small Virginia town where racism is still so prevalent.

Here’s Keisha again, packing up that apartment she’s stayed in for the last 3 years, and ready to move back home to look through the classifieds. She had a few internships and summer jobs, but none in her field. She still keeps in touch with Meredith who, because of the connections her dad made at this same college while he was a student, interned and is now working for Goldman Sachs, her dream company.

Let’s pretend Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1968 put an end to racism. If you’re willing to tell me that Black folks, as a whole, after 349 years of being tremendously lower in ranking than the powers that be, made up for lost time in 48 years, I will gladly send my people to your schools. However, if you cannot admit that, then FEES MUST FALL for these kids you keep pushing to fill your classrooms while their parents are trying to figure out how to keep them there daily. These kids who are the grandchildren of those who were promised stretches of land from South Carolina to Florida, but never received more than a turned back and bitter face. These Black kids who jaunt into Financial Aid offices and are offered loans from the government, knowing that because of that same government and its oppressive nature toward blacks for centuries almost guarantees this loans will never be paid back in full. Financial slavery.

Because of racism’s perfect structure, the playing field in the United States will never be leveled, therefore, neither should these fees.

Ideally, I’d love to send a group of 50 recent high school graduates to college, all majoring in something different. Equip them with cameras and recorders for 4 years. Take all the material, and use it to teach the people in a free university. Education must be free! Until it’s free, we aren’t.

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