The Pittsburgh Post Gazette Got It Wrong: Robert F. Smith’s Gift of Debt Liberation to Morehouse Grads Teaches Young Black Graduates to Lift as They Climb

Let’s get right to the point. The Pittsburgh Post Post-Gazette just published one of the most obvious examples of meritocracy and advocacy for structural oppression that I’ve ever read. Even worse, they took the cowardly route of publishing the piece as an editorial–they don’t always come from editors.Screen Shot 2019-06-15 at 6.39.35 AM.png

New graduates are inundated with debt, many having to take out loans for college-related expenses. As tuition and expenses continue to rise, so does the need to take out a loan to cover the expenses of spend several years studying and hoping for better job prospects. The system is broken and there’s no fix in sight.

Robert F. Smith decided to do something about it. His efforts won’t fix the system but hopefully they will ignite a small fire that will lead to change. About 400 new college graduates will take the next big step in life with a little (or a lot) less debt. In what I could only imagine felt like Thanos snapping his fingers while wearing the Infinity Gauntlet, an estimated $25 to $40 million in student loan debt was wiped away.

While many were rejoicing and looking for individual reactions from these young men, I was hoping to find a few reaction videos. Morehouse isn’t just any private college. First, it’s an HBCU in the South. If you don’t know what that really means, you need to read the history books that have been redacted to appease those that fear the truth about their ancestors. Second, Morehouse is a private college for men–meaning the majority of the 400 graduates are young black men. Their notable alumni lists includes politicians, CEOs, religious leaders, civil rights activists, athletes, entertainers, and scholars.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ignored Morehouse’s rich history. Well, they almost ignored it. They were savvy enough to point out that Morehouse is an HBCU but somehow missed Morehouse’s propensity for producing graduates that give back to society. Instead, Pittsburg Post-Gazette decided that the wrong lesson was taught. Their review shifted from highlighting Smith’s generosity to a failed “what if” argument. It quickly dissolved into the usual meritocracy trope that seems to pop up whenever black folks experience the tiniest bit of luck.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette was wrong. Even more, they were cowardly. If you’re going to admonish a black billionaire for paying the college loans of nearly 400 black graduates, you should include your name and not hide behind it being an editorial. If you’re going to go after 400 graduates of an HBCU that received a gift that none of them asked for, you should also go after the children involved in the recent college admission scandal. If you’re going to impart wisdom and throw out a few “what if” arguments, you should at least highlight why choosing to do this to 400 graduates of a black college is oppressive and you simply don’t care.

I have to note that Tony Norman, a columnist for Post-Gazette, wrote about this very issue in the Post-Gazette. He pointed out how “public displays of generosity always bring out the contrariness of those who can be generous only in theory.” It’s interesting how the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette decided to spew their support of structural oppression in the direction of Morehouse, a school nearly 700 miles away. Still, it’s not surprising.

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