Sallie Mar Sallie Mar

Property of Sallie Mae

Her name strikes a chord of regret in the hearts of millions of folks who were, once upon a time, college students. Some finished, some didn’t. But many of us must pay the great white beast known simply as Sallie Mae. I hate that heifer. If I catch her out on the streets, I’m blacking both her eyes and chipping two of her teeth.

Since I’m the first person in my family to have the privilege of going to college, there was no background knowledge on the mystifying world of post-secondary financial aid. Fortunately, a one-two punch of excellent grades and fairly decent SAT scores earned me a full ride to, among others, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, the first HBCU in the country and an institution that had turned out some pretty impressive luminaries (excuse me for a moment: LU!!! Lincoln pride!!! Okay, carry on.) For my first two years of school, I didn’t have to worry about paying for too much of anything, save a super expensive English book that put me over the amount that my voucher was worth. Then mysteriously, the scholarship was no longer being offered and I was forced to throw together my own financial aid package, a conglomerate of grants, smaller scholarships and those dreaded, damned, "what-did-I-even-learn-that-was-worth-this-much-money?" student loans.

I don’t even want to tell you how much I owe. Actually, I couldn’t even if I really wanted to because I literally avert my eyes from the grand totals whenever I’m on the website. (It’s the visual equivalent of covering my ears and going “lalalalala” when someone’s saying something I don’t want to hear.) Childish? Maybe. Irresponsible? Perhaps. But I tell you as sure as I’m sitting here on this sofa at 7 AM with unbrushed teeth and a silk scarf on my head that if I knew the depth and extent of my debt to that corporate extortionist (and the federal government, because I owe them a few bucks, too), they’d have to cart me away and spoon-feed me Jell-O in a padded white room.

I shouldn’t single Sallie Mae out, though they have been accused of redlining and overcharging Black and Latino borrowers. I hate all student loans from all originators and lending institutions for all people everywhere trying to make a decent living without the ghost of academic past knocking at their door. I hate the concept that you go to school because society and your family and the working world is forever emphasizing the importance of being educated but when you get that golden sheet of paper and all the knowledge that goes along with it, you have to spend the next 10, 15, heck, maybe even 30 or 40 years of your life paying for it. It doesn’t matter if you never do anything with the major you specialized in or the degree you worked so hard to earn. They ain’t splittin’ hairs if you make $17,000 a year as a parking attendant or $160,000 a year as a litigator. They’re going to come for you. And even if you die, your family is still on the hook for the education you took with you to the grave.

There’s been ongoing and widespread outrage about predatory lending from mortgage companies but based on the horror stories I hear from friends and friends of friends and other folks I run into in my random travels, student loans are just about the worst form of predatory lending anytime, anywhere, anyplace. (The credit cards they send you and your jobless college student tail during your first 90 days on campus are THE worst, but that rant is fodder for another article.) What’s ironic is most of the time, you don’t even have any credit but you’re permitted to dig yourself into debt for the sake of your education. You’re what, 18, 20 years old? You’re living away from home for the first time, and the parents and adult family members you’re so hell bent on asserting your independence from are umpteen miles away. You go to register for classes and—gasp—the financial aid office almost gleefully reports that you have a balance and that in order to stay on campus and attend class, you need X amount of dollars to clear up your bill. Panic sets in like the side effects of a bad Mexican dish. Even if you call home and, through a series of heaving, almost incoherent sobs, relay the bad news to your folks, you know they don’t have anything close to the $3,000 or so dollars that you need to stay in school (because it’s never like an easy, breezy 300 bucks.)

Now, the financial aid folks do offer you an alternative. You could just sign this application here and all your worries will be alleviated and your obligations satisfied—for the time being. They shove a few forms with text as dense and intricate as a Shakespearean sonnet under your desperate little nose and explain, in abbreviated albeit cryptic terms, the conditions of your loan with one glowing, neon sign-bright bottom line that sells you: you won’t have to pay until after you graduate. Phew! What a relief. That’s at least a few years away. You unknowingly sign your deal with the devil and traipse off to the cafeteria to get a piece of fried chicken and tell your girls the good news.

Then you graduate. Congratulations flow. You party. You celebrate. You thankfully move into the “I’m an adult for real for real” phase of your life. You might get your first apartment. You hit the pavement to put those book smarts and that internship experience to work in the real world. Oh—and you get a call from your student loan servicer welcoming you to the repayment phase. Yeah, it’s time to pay up, baby girl. You and two-thirds of other college graduates who leave school with debt, most of it at least $20,000. Graduate and professional students have it even worse. Those loans average anywhere between $27,000 to $114,000, depending of course on the field, school and specialty. And in this market, none of those MAs, BSes, PhDs or MSWes are adding up to j-o-b-s. In fact, defaults are at their highest rate in 11 years. And even if, in the dire straits of drowning in good debt gone bad, you file bankruptcy, guess what? Everything, even your gambling obligations, can be discharged—except your student loans. Those you still have to pay.

I’m not even going to pretend to have the solution to remedy the high cost of education in this country. I’m just a freelance writer and editor with a Bachelor of Arts in English and an almost-finished Master of Arts in African-American Studies that together will cost me, by the time all is said and done, way more than they’re probably worth when interest is compounded by them and reluctantly paid by me. I just know firsthand how terrible it is to second-guess your pursuit of education because the only way you can finance your desire to learn is through borrowing money. It’s messed up. There is $85 billion in student loan debt burdening everybody from anesthesiologists to architects. It’s funny—I paid all that money to learn but one of the greatest lessons I got out of school was to read the freakin’ fine print.

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Andrea Kelly Says She's Been Attacked For Calling Out R. Kelly's Behavior

Andrea Kelly has found it hard to march for women as they continue to support her polarizing ex-husband, R. Kelly.

The former choreographer shared her sentiments on an upcoming episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta shared on Entertainment Tonight. Speaking with close friend Debra Antney, Kelly tearfully expressed her frustrations with her ex-husband and praised Antey for sticking by her side.

The former couple was previously in a child support battle for their children Joann, 21, Jay, 19, and Robert, 17. During the time of filming, Kelly owed $161,000 in back child support to his ex. In May, it was reportedly paid off by a mysterious donor.

"When I think about the ways that I have been abused by Robert, from being hogtied, having both of my shoulders dislocated, to being slapped, pushed, having things thrown as me, the sexual abuse, the mental abuse, words can't even describe," she said.

In addition to the child support case, Kelly was charged with 11 felony counts of sexual assault. He's pleaded not guilty despite reported evidence of videotapes that reportedly show the entertainer engaging in sexual acts with minors. Andrea tells Antey how difficult the process has been for her since speaking out about Kelly's behavior in the Lifetime docu-series, Surviving R. Kelly. 

"Here I am, putting myself in a position because I want to help women, and they are attacking me," she said. "There's some things that I don't even speak anymore, that I feel like, once you give it to God, you better leave with God, because if I don't leave it with God, I'm definitely going to be somewhere with my hands on the glass, visiting my children every other Sunday."

Growing Up Hip Hop: Atlanta airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on WEtv.

Watch the clip here.

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Courtesy of Baby Tress

Baby Tress' Edge Styler Ensures Women Of Color Will Always Shake The Beauty Table

"Do you have edge control in here?"

It's an inquiry my niece asked me over the weekend as we got ready for our cousin's graduation. Atlanta's heat is friendly but mixed with nimbus clouds, frizz (and thunderstorms) are on the horizon. Given the circumstances, a high bun seems to be the best choice for me and my niece, a slick-back style with extra attention to our baby hairs. It's typical for either one of us to grab a toothbrush to slick and swoop our edges with pomade or gel, but with The Baby Tress Edge Styler, the process is easier and equally as stylish.

Created by boutique communications agency Mama Tress, the styler is everything baby hair dreams are made of. It's also a testament to the rise of the "style" in popular hair culture. With a dual comb and brush top, its pointed tip elevates a consumer to baby hair connoisseur.

But the styler isn't something created to appropriate black culture or piggyback on what boosts the most likes on social media. The handy styler was created by Mama Tress CEO Hannah Choi and her team consisting of other women of color like public relations coordinator Mariamu "Mimi" Sillah. The New York native tells VIBE Vixen the styler was made as a gift for an event they hosted but its intentions to propel black hair were always present.

"We try to make it clear that this is for women of color. Because we all understand the history of baby hair, we all have connections, we all have stories, we all do it differently, some people swoop it; if you see some of my coworkers they do the swirls," she said. "This is a product that we want everyone to see and think, 'I don't need to be using a toothbrush. I deserve more than a toothbrush.' This is a tool made thoughtfully with women of color in mind and we are women of color who came up with the idea because we know what we need."

Coming in six different colors, the styler's bristles are stronger than a typical toothbrush and give anyone's edges a look all their own. Over the years, styled baby hairs have gotten the white-washed celeb treatment. From the runways of New York Fashion Week to fans of black culture like Kim Kardashian, its recent love affair among popular culture crosses out its rich roots.

Many have attributed the actual rise of baby hairs to the '70s with pioneers like LaToya Jackson and Sylvia Robinson of CEO Sugar Hill Records sporting their luxurious edges with Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas being the all-time queen. Recent entertainers like Ella Mai and FKA twigs have made them fun and creative. There are also the many Latinx and black around the way queens who have kept the culture alive.

 

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A post shared by Ebony Brown (@wildcatebonybrown) on Jun 3, 2019 at 1:31pm PDT

“Our tool is more than a beauty product, it’s a conversation starter," Choi, who is of Korean descent, previously told fashion site Beauty Independent. "There are nuances of someone’s world that you won’t see if you’re not part of that community. And we felt that the conversation around why this market is so underserved should be brought to light and talked about. We are seeing such a big change now in fashion and beauty in terms of representation, and we want to be able to have that conversation without it being heavy. We want it to be approachable. Our brand is very approachable.”

When it comes to moving in the black hair space, Sillah feels empowered at Mama Tress. It also makes it easy to develop black hair tools like the styler. "I feel like my voice is listened to because I am a consumer of all these things. It's empowering to be in a position to have more control," she said. "If we're being honest, a lot of the black hair spaces are not owned by people who look like us. To be in a position where I can say "No, don't create this product, we don't wear things like this,' or 'Actually you should name it this because this resonates with this community,' I'm an advocate for my community. That's part of the reason why Baby Tress was created because it's about a larger conversation, about things not being thoughtfully made for us."

Baby Tress' next steps are to make the styler accessible to consumers and create even more products dedicated to black women.

“We need to be in retail spaces because this is a product you need to see up close and touch it and play with it,” said Shannon Kennard, account executive at Mama Tress tells Glossy. “Everyone who tries it falls in love with it.”

Sillah is more than ready for women of color to elevate their beauty regimen, one creation at a time. The future of Baby Tress includes an array of more products designed with women of color in mind.

"Anything that has to do with baby hair, we can bring to Baby Tress and make it beautifully designed and effective," she said.  "That's what this is about. It's about that step up. Again, we should not be using a toothbrush anymore."

Learn more about Baby Tress here.

 

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Beyonce Readies New Line And Serves As Muse For 'Lion King' Makeup Collection

Beyonce is keeping her fans quite busy this week. Yesterday (June 4), the latest trailer for the forthcoming The Lion King live action film gave the masses a first listen of Beyonce as the voice of Nala. To add on to the Disney film's energy, Beyonce's longtime makeup artist Sir John has revealed a special Lion King makeup partnership.

According to The Cut, Disney's Sir John x Luminess Lion King Limited Edition Collection includes "a 6-shade sculpting palette, a 12-shade eyeshadow palette, two matte lipsticks, two liquid lipsticks, a tinted lip balm, and a highlighter." Neutrals, pinks and shimmer jewel tones are all named after characters and other movie references, with various women (including Beyonce) modeling the new work.

 

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From day to night, statement or muted.. I love that there’s so many different looks you can create with this 8 piece collection 🙌🏽 I’ll be posting a few tutorials this month to show you guys some really cool things you can do with these products. & be sure to check out #TheLionKing in theaters July 19!  #DisneyLionKing #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 2, 2019 at 3:05pm PDT

 

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No filters needed ⚠️ Can’t Wait To Be Queen Eyeshadow Palette working that good light 👑✨ #TheLionKingCollectionbySirJohnXLuminess #SirJohn #LuminessCosmetics

A post shared by S I R J O H N (@sirjohnofficial) on Jun 4, 2019 at 9:18am PDT

While that was happening, Bey also caused a stir amongst the BeyHive with the announcement of her own forthcoming merch line. The "BeyHive" range officially hits her website on June 11, right in time for all the summertime functions.

Beyoncé's new "beyhive" range has been sent to several members of the BeyHive is promotion of her new merch line, launching June 11. https://t.co/zIkzJ9B8Qq pic.twitter.com/Ql9yWXKNDR

— BEYONCÉ HUB (@theyoncehub) June 5, 2019

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