After running an extremely competitive campaign for governor of Georgia in 2018, Stacey Abrams has become a politician to watch. In February, she even delivered the Democrats’ rebuttal to the State of the Union address. And recently—in a move that’s rare for public figures (especially those in politics)—she got candid about being in debt and the stigma that comes with it.
During her gubernatorial campaign, Abrams wrote in Fortune about facing backlash over her personal financial disclosure report, which revealed that she had more than $200,000 in debt from student loans, credit card debt, and deferred tax payments. In the April 9th episode of The Cut’s podcast The Cut on Tuesdays, Abrams revealed she grew up in a lower-income family, and after she became a tax lawyer, she began to support her family and herself—even if it meant taking on debt. She even ended up deferring tax payments to help pay for her father’s cancer treatment.
When she entered politics, she realized her financial situation would become public knowledge, even as she was working to repay her debt. Some even suggested that she shouldn’t run because of her debt, even though, as she noted, Georgia was being “governed by a man who called himself the king of debt.”
Abrams added that this stigma “precludes women and people of color in particular from striving.” However, she also noted that her family has taught her that “money does not determine the value of a person,” and that we shouldn’t hold debt against others.
According to Northwestern Mutual’s Planning & Progress Study 2018, the average American has $38,000 of personal debt. Meaning we should be able to talk about it. We’re grateful to Abrams for speaking up about this universal issue and reminding so many others that they’re not alone.