A Millennial Who Paid Off $100K In Student Loans Just Months Before Biden Announced Forgiveness Says The President Should ‘Forgive All Of It’

There was no confetti. No congratulations or fanfare of any kind. No one cheered for Steve, a 36-year-old software engineer in Texas, when he woke up at 6 a.m. on March 15, 2022, and made his final student loan payment. He didn’t think this moment would be so matter-of-fact, considering the huge—and at times painful—impact his loans had on his life.

It took Steve nearly 12 years to pay off more than $100,000 in student loan debt, just five months shy of the Biden administration’s announcement it was forgiving $10,000 in loans for borrowers making less than $125,000 a year.

Despite the financial, mental, and even physical pain that carrying more than six figures in student loan debt caused Steve, he says he’s happy for anyone who receives student loan forgiveness—he doesn’t resent anyone eligible for the government’s $10,000 (up to $20,000 for Pell Grant holders) forgiveness plan.

“Forgive all of it is my opinion,” Steve says. “$10,000 is a nice start…maybe with this amount of debt off their backs, people can begin to build their lives.”

The Biden-Harris student debt relief plan is expected to wash out roughly $300 billion worth of debt, according to the Penn Wharton Budget Model. Approximately one-third of federal student loan borrowers (me included) will have their debt completely wiped out, with benefits going disproportionately to working-class and middle-income households.

Since 1980, the cost of public and private colleges has nearly tripled. Federal support has not kept up, which means more people have had to borrow money in order to get degrees.

Recent data totals student loan debt in the U.S. at $1.75 trillion, with the average college graduate carrying as much as $40,000 in debt. The average graduate student owes up to $189,000 in federal student loan debt.

“I’m not mad I missed out”

Steve graduated undergrad in 2008 with a degree in English that he says was virtually free because of an in-state scholarship program. But after struggling to find a decent job, he went back to school to get a master’s in teaching. It was a mistake, he says. He borrowed roughly $70,000, but interest ballooned the total to $118,000.

He couldn’t pay off his loans on his teaching salary, and by the time he turned 30, he was questioning what he was doing with his life. He had no savings, and worrying about the debt impacted his physical and mental health. “If I had had a medical emergency, I would be in ruin,” he says.

Desperate to make a change and dig himself out from under the debt that was keeping him up at night, Steve taught himself to code—there was no chance he was going back to school—and changed careers. He refinanced his loans for a lower rate and, with his higher salary, began making extra payments.

“I knew what I was getting into somewhat when I got the loans,” Steve says. “I knew teaching wasn’t a lucrative career, but I thought I could stay afloat, you know? I definitely miscalculated.” He says he left his heart in the classroom.

It was so easy, though, to get that loan at 22, he says.

“I had no employment history, no income. Universities know that, and they just jack up the prices,” Steve says. “I want to live in an educated society…[but] you shouldn’t have to ruin your life to get an education. The fact that you can’t even declare bankruptcy—the only way to relieve the debt is to die—that’s just really messed up.”

Submitting his final payment—paying off six months’ worth of debt in one foul swoop—was rather anticlimactic, Steve says. It took a while to sink in, but once it did, he says, he began to feel like anything was possible.

With the additional income, he began to think he could get his finances on track, so he decided to meet with a financial planner: “Just maybe I’ll be able to retire some day.”

His friends ask him often, he says, whether he’d be upset at a loan forgiveness program, having just paid off so much in student loans. He’s actually quite excited, he says. Though it would “be nice if I could retroactively benefit. But I’m not mad I missed out by a few months.”

Source: Fortune

Texas Gulf Coast In The 1970s — Vietnamese Fishermen And The Ku Klux Klan

When Vietnamese refugees first settled in the coastal town of Seadrift, Texas, they encountered prejudice and resentment from some of the locals. It culminated on Nov. 25, 1979, when the Ku Klux Klan came to the fishing village. They menaced the Vietnamese fishermen who were competing with white fishermen and told them to get off the water and get out of town. This was part of the hostile reception given to some of the 130,000 Vietnamese refugees who came to the U.S. after the fall of Saigon.

Four decades later, the Vietnamese are now a fixture along the U.S. Gulf Coast. The arc of the Vietnamese resettlement experience is instructive history, and it offers a lens through which to view current attitudes toward immigrants.

In 1979, a Vietnamese refugee shoots and kills a white crab fisherman at the public town docks in Seadrift, TX. What began as a dispute over fishing territory erupts into violence and ignites a maelstrom of boat burnings, KKK intimidation, and other hostilities against Vietnamese refugees along the Gulf Coast.

Set during the early days of Vietnamese refugee arrival in the U.S., SEADRIFT is a feature documentary that examines the circumstances that led up to the shooting and its dramatic aftermath, and reveals the unexpected consequences that continue to reverberate today.

1979 Incident (from Wikipedia):

Seadrift is remembered for a killing that took place on August 3, 1979. Prior to this date there had been several negative racial incidents between local white citizens and Vietnamese refugees. As the central area relied heavily on the commercial fishing industry for income, many whites felt threatened by the increasing number of Vietnamese. On the night of August 3, 1979, a fight broke out between Billy Joe Aplin, 35-year-old crabber and Sau Van Nguyen, a Vietnamese crabber which ended with the fatal shooting of Aplin. Within hours of the shooting, several Vietnamese boats were burned and there was an attempted bombing of a crab plant that employed Vietnamese workers. Sau Van Nguyen and his brother Chinh Nguyen were tried for murder and acquitted on the grounds of self-defense. The incident inspired the creation of both the 1981 documentary Fire on the Water and the 1985 film Alamo Bay. In January 2019, Title 8 Productions, LLC premiered an independent documentary called, Seadrift, in Park City Utah. It continues to be screened throughout the United States. The documentary series “Reel South” examined the 1979 incident in the 2020 film “Seadrift”.

Timeline (from the Asian American Bar Association of New York):

1865 In Pulaski, Tennessee, a group of men who had fought in the Confederate army form a secret society, which they call the Ku Klux Klan. The name was likely derived from the Greek word kyklos, which means circle.

1868 The Ku Klux Klan spreads to Texas.

4/30/1975 The Fall of Saigon: Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, is captured by North Vietnamese forces. The South Vietnamese government surrenders. Saigon is renamed Ho Chi Minh City, and the Vietnam War effectively comes to an end.

1975-1979 The fall of Saigon prompts a wave of Vietnamese emigration, as South Vietnamese refugees flee communist rule with urgency, often in small fishing vessels. Many of these “boat people” are lost to drowning, pirates and dehydration. The sheer numbers overwhelm Southeast Asian host nations, some of which resort to pushing the boats back out to sea.

late 1970s Thousands of Vietnamese refugees resettle in Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast. Many take up fishing and shrimping, creating competition for local fishermen and shrimpers.

1/1979 Nguyen Van Nam, a former Colonel in the South Vietnamese army, moves to Seabrook, Texas. He eventually becomes head of the Vietnamese Fishermen’s Association.

8/3/1979 Following two years of tension between Vietnamese and local fishermen and shrimpers, two Vietnamese brothers kill a local crab fisherman in Seadrift, Texas. In the aftermath, four shrimp boats owned by Vietnamese are set on fire and a Vietnamese home is firebombed. Eventually, the two brothers are acquitted on all charges, on the grounds of self-defense.

1/24/1981 Local fisherman Gene Fisher meets with Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon Louis Beam.

2/14/1981 The Ku Klux Klan sponsors a fish fry and rally, which includes a cross-burning ceremony, to support Texas fishermen and to protest increased competition from Vietnamese refugees. Some 750 people attend, including more than two dozen men wearing white robes and carrying rifles and shotguns. A fishing dinghy labeled “U.S.S. Viet Cong” is burned at the rally.

3/15/1981 Local fishermen and Ku Klux Klan stage boat ride to intimidate the Vietnamese. On board are robed, hooded, and armed Klansmen, some of whom are armed. They ride up Clear Creek Channel to Colonel Nam’s house. 

3/29/1981 Two Vietnamese fishing boats are set on fire in Galveston Bay.

4/16/1981 Vietnamese Fishermen file suit against Ku Klux Klan in Houston, seeking a preliminary injunction.

4/30/1981 Depositions start in lawsuit.

5/1/1981 Judge McDonald hears first motion for a protective order.

5/8/1981 Judge McDonald hears second motion for a protective order and motion seeking psychiatric evaluation of Beam.

5/11/1981 Preliminary injunction hearing begins, and continues for four days.

5/12/1981 On the second day of the hearing, the Texas legislature passes a law limiting the number of shrimping licenses that can be issued in 1981 and 1982.

5/14/1981 Judge McDonald grants motion for a preliminary injunction in part, barring defendants from unlawful acts of violence and intimidation against the Vietnamese.

5/15/1981 The fishing season opens.

7/15/1981 Judge McDonald files opinion granting the preliminary injunction in part, finding a likelihood of success on plaintiffs’ civil rights and antitrust claims and holding that “it is in the public interest to enjoin [the Klan’s] self help tactics of threats of violence and intimidation and permit individuals to pursue their chosen occupation free from racial animus.” Vietnamese Fishermen’s Ass’n v. Knights of Ku Klux Klan, 518 F. Supp. 993, 1016-17 (S.D. Tex. 1981).

8/13/1981 Judge McDonald issues order dismissing certain defendants and making injunction permanent against remaining defendants (including Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Louis Beam, and Eugene Fisher). The order notes that the only remaining issue is the request by the intervenor State of Texas and other plaintiffs for the Court to enjoin military operations of the Ku Klux Klan, otherwise known as the Texas Emergency Reserve.

6-3-1982 Judge McDonald files opinion enjoining the Klan from, inter alia, maintaining a private military or paramilitary organization, carrying on military or paramilitary training, and parading in public on land or water with firearms. Vietnamese Fishermen’s Ass’n v. Knights of Ku Klux Klan, 543 F. Supp. 198 (S.D. Tex. 1982).

6/9/1982 Final judgment is entered.

Escape From A House Of Horror — Jennifer And Jordan Turpin Speak About Escape From Horrific Imprisonment And Abuse They Suffered For Years At The Hands Of Their Parents

On the night of Jan. 14, 2018, 17-year-old Jordan Turpin made a daring escape from her home and called 911 in order to save herself and her siblings from their abusive parents.

Once law enforcement arrived, Jordan Turpin showed them pictures of her siblings in chains on a phone she had kept secretly from her parents. Officers perform a welfare check at the Turpin house.

Jennifer Turpin, the eldest child of David and Louise Turpin, recalls her parent’s violent outbursts, especially her mother’s volatile mood swings, extreme punishments and abandonment in a trailer.

David and Louise Turpin occasionally took their children out to take posed photographs to portray a happy family. In reality, the 13 children were starved, tortured and filthy.

After Jordan Turpin was outed secretly watching a Justin Bieber music video, her mother violently choked her. After that, she decided to begin planning an escape.

How I Became A Texan Muslim (Religion Documentary)

In the wake of the terrible events of 9/11, anger and suspicion about Islam and its teachings spread throughout the United States. For a few Americans, these events led to an awakening to the rich traditions of this major world religion. Curiosity turned to admiration of a faith that in its core offers peace and solace. How would these converts adjust to life as strangers in their own hometowns?

Meredith Bethune: The Difference Between Tex-Mex And Mexican Food

Mexican food confused me when I first moved to Texas. What I considered to be quintessential Tex-Mex, like sizzling fajita platters and enchiladas smothered in yellow cheese, were on the same menu as “traditional” Mexican favorites, like tacos al pastor and chiles en nogada. I even encountered a restaurant serving the Lone Star state’s famous queso dip next to cochinita pibil (a specialty from the Yucatán Peninsula) wrapped in flour tortillas. I didn’t know what to make of it. But after talking to several chefs, I learned that the distinction between Mexican and Tex-Mex food has actually been evolving for years, and has even recently started to blur.

The cuisine we now call Tex-Mex is rooted in the state’s Tejano culture (Texans of Spanish or Mexican heritage who lived in Texas before it became a republic) and also Mexican immigrants who hailed largely from Northern Mexico. Until the 1970s, though, most people referred to it simply as Mexican food. In The Tex-Mex Cookbook, Texas food expert Robb Walsh credits Diana Kennedy with removing Tex-Mex from the discussion of traditional Mexican cuisine.

Rick Bayless, however, recently told me at the Austin Food and Wine Festival that when he wrote the draft of his first cookbook, Authentic Mexican, he featured seven culinary regions of Mexico, including the Southwestern United States. “You could even break that down further into the cuisines of Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, and even the ranchos of California,” he added. Perhaps his view differs from Kennedy’s because he grew up in Oklahoma eating Tex-Mex two or three times a week.

If you’re looking to identify the distinguishing characteristics of Tex-Mex, enchiladas are a good case study. In the classic Tex-Mex version of cheese enchiladas, grated yellow cheese is wrapped in tortillas, and then covered in a dark red chili sauce mixed with ground beef. You’ll also find other typical Tex-Mex ingredients like pinto beans and rice served on the side.

Another difference is the abundant use of cumin in Tex-Mex cuisine. “We use it a lot in the north, but it’s not a spice we use much in the southern part of Mexico,” says de la Vega. Robb Walsh links the heavy use of cumin to the first wave of Canary Islanders who emigrated to San Antonio in the 1700s. Today it’s still a key ingredient in chili con carne, along with chili powder, which, according to Walsh, is a uniquely Texan invention developed by a German immigrant in New Braunfels in the late 1890s. In the late 1800’s, chili con carne was regularly ladled out at bargain prices in the streets of San Antonio at its famed chili stands. “Tex-Mex was never the cuisine of the upper echelon of society,” Bayless observes. “It’s a peasant, working class cuisine.”

The Tex-Mex that most of us think of, full of Velveeta cheese and pre-made taco shells, was shaped by the development of convenience foods in the 1950s. That time period left Tex-Mex, and even Mexican food in general, with a reputation as “just a cheap cuisine, full of sour cream and processed cheese, and that everything is greasy,” says de la Vega.

Fortunately, that perception has changed. “Tex-Mex has now evolved to a different stage,” says Bayless. “It was once a very simple cuisine, but now there are a variety of dishes on the menus.”

Carlos Rivero agrees. “‘Mexican’ is a very broad term because that profile encompasses so many different flavors and ingredients,” explains Rivero. “When you come to El Chile, you can have a modern take on Mexican or you can have the die-hard fajita platter. It’s up to you.”

As the line between traditional Mexican and Tex-Mex continues to evolve, it may become harder to separate the two. As Iliana de la Vega notes, “Either Tex-Mex or traditional Mexican, we can all live together. As long as it’s well-executed food, then, why not?”

Source: Serious Eats

Dallas Stars fire visual effects designer Alex Kleuser after racist social media post comparing Chinese people to squirrels and prompted violence by suggesting they should be shot

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The Dallas Stars fired Alex Kleuser, a visual effects designer for the team, after they were alerted to a racist comment he made on social media.

“Alex was an employee of the Dallas Stars. This individual’s statement does not represent the culture and values of the club. As such, this employee is no longer a part of the organization,” the team said in a statement.

According to screenshots of his post, Kleuser was responding to a thread on Nextdoor, a social networking hub focused on specific neighborhoods, regarding how to deal with a squirrel infestation and made a racist comment about Chinese people.

Kleuser had been with the team since September 2018, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Source: ESPN

Willie D: Subhuman Cops like Derek Chauvin are the Boogyman, Not George Floyd

In this clip, Willie D shares his thoughts on the recent events in Minneapolis, which started after an officer named David Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck during an arrest, killing him. Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter for Floyd’s death, and Willie D believes that police officers like Chauvin are “the Boogeyman.” He went on to share what he thinks what people should do to protect citizens in their neightborhood, which you can hear more about above.