Angela Bassett poses in a purple formal gown on the red carpet at the 95th Annual Academy Awards
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 12: Angela Bassett attends the 95th Annual Academy Awards on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images) Credit: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

#OscarsSoWhite … Again?

It has been a year since the infamous slap heard worldwide delivered by Will Smith to the jaw of Chris Rock at the Oscars. Jimmie Kimmel hosted this year’s Academy Awards. Not only did the Oscars run smoothly, but it also had its share of hits and misses. Let’s start with the misses, shall we? It was evident that Black actors and directors who dominated last year got snubbed again. Only two Black actors earned Oscar nods: Angela Bassett for her second career nomination for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” – 30 years after Best Actress nod for the 1993 film “What’s Love Got to Do With It” – and Brian Tyree Henry for his role in “Causeway.” Neither of them won. Ruth E. Carter won her category for best costume design for “Wakanda Forever,” making her the first Black woman to win a second Oscar. I’m so happy that she won, but wow, why is she the only one in 2023? Rihanna and Tems lost their first-ever nomination for the best original song “Lift Me Up” from “Wakanda Forever.” That’s probably why Denzel skipped the Oscars for an NBA game with Spike Lee on the same day.

Still, there were some highlights. Michelle Yeoh was the second woman of color and first Asian to win the best actress award at 60 years old, and the “RRR Movie” brought India’s first-ever Oscar in the Best Song Category with “Naatu Naatu.”

Student loan repayment countdown: Pressure is mounting

We are in a new era, with little faith in a college degree’s value. It’s difficult not to be empathetic to this sentiment considering many young adults are turning to hourly jobs or careers that don’t require trades or skipping college to avoid getting into debt or having to take odd jobs to pay back those loans. The problem is complex, and with the clock ticking until millions of student loan borrowers resume making repayments this summer, it will mean more financial pressures for millions of young Americans already struggling to stay afloat. According to the Wall Street Journal, many borrowers haven’t made student loan payments since the beginning of the pandemic, and an estimated 40 million people owe $1.6 trillion in total federal student loan debt.

The pandemic opened the doors for young people to transition away from earning a college degree. Colleges and universities haven’t done a great job making education affordable, and paying it off shouldn’t take 20-plus years. Still, these schools aren’t the only ones to blame. Students must also understand what majors will create a clear path to financial stability. Passion doesn’t get you far without a strategy. And vocational and trade schools are getting the flowers they finally deserve, with trade jobs probably being the most preferred way to make a great living without being saddled with thousands of dollars in debt. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a challenge to the mass debt cancellation program by July.

Silicon Valley Bank Failure

Security guards let individuals enter the Silicon Valley Bank’s headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif., on Monday, March 13, 2023. The federal government intervened Sunday to secure funds for depositors to withdraw from Silicon Valley Bank after the banks collapse. Dozens of individuals waited in line outside the bank to withdraw funds. (AP Photo/ Benjamin Fanjoy) Credit: AP Photo/ Benjamin Fanjoy

We’ve all heard stories about Black folk – either yourself or someone you know – who don’t trust banks, and after the Silicon Valley Bank Collapse, I can see why many would be on edge. This marks the second-biggest bank collapse in U.S. history. Young startups and small businesses are racing to get their money from the bank. This ordeal reflects much like the nightmare during the global financial crisis in 2008. Only now, the government is choosing to get ahead of a major disaster. Companies with ties to the bank scrambled to pay workers and feared they might have to pause major projects or lay off employees. President Biden said no losses related to the collapse would impact taxpayers, there will be no bailouts and startups have and/or will regain access to their accounts. It’s a good step in the right direction, but in these uncertain economic times, wondering about the safety of your funds is logical right now.

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...