If You’re Not Talking About Actively Disrupting Racism and Inequity in Education, You Can Kick Rocks

Aug 2, 2019 12:00:00 AM


I watched the second round of the 2020 democratic presidential debates and I wasn’t as disappointed in the talking points as I was during the first debates


The candidates actually touched on both education and race this time. Hallelujah!

And I was delighted to hear Senator Michael Bennet actually say that if we fix schools, we can fix the school-to-prison pipeline.


But here’s where it got interesting.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand made a comment about acknowledging her privilege as a White woman and said she could talk to the White suburban moms who voted for Trump about what White privilege is. 


Out of curiosity and an attempt to not prejudge, I Googled Kirsten to see if she was qualified to have the “come to equality” talk with other White people—and I landed on her education track record. 

I found out that she attended private schools growing up and so did her children. But it was funny because—as a benefactor of school choice—Senator Gillibrand has been against that option for others. 


She won’t take a definitive stance on whether or not she supports charter schools—the free public option for the marginalized communities who are being failed by traditional public schools but can’t afford to go to private schools like she did. 


And she voted against school vouchers that would’ve allowed students to use public funds to attend private schools.


After my probe, I rolled my eyes so hard they almost fell out of my head. Because I’m at a point in my life and career where I don’t want to hear anybody just talking about what’s wrong or preaching about something that they’re not practicing themselves. If your actions don’t match your pledges of righteousness and you have no solutions to offer, just do me a favor and hush.

Kirsten may have acknowledged her White privilege and can play the woke card all day. But her nonexistent advocacy, deflection and the opportunities she’s taken advantage of as a White woman, while denying others that same latitude, disqualifies her as a true ally.


Get in the Game

And I’m not just tripping on Kirsten. I’m also tired of people that complain about the issues in education but, at the most, will only lift a Twitter finger to engage in a battle of wits, while the real fight is happening in our schools where Black kids are losing.

I’m talking about the people who hate traditional public schools, charter schools, private schools, teachers unions, the government and everything they feel is unjust about those systems but have never been to a school board meeting, held an action, mobilized parents, pushed for policy reform—nothing to actively disrupt the status quo.

Because like Shana White said, if you’re not talking about actually disrupting racism and inequity in education, you can kick rocks.


We have real problems in the American education system that won’t be solved by people who play the savior role when it’s convenient for them or others who complain about how the game is being played, but refuse to get off the bench. 

We need genuine, selfless people in this battle and if you aren’t willing to fight, move out of the way. Because like Vernon said in his tweet reflecting on Howard Fuller’s words, “We need a renewed push for freedom”—and that won’t come without sacrifice.


Tanesha Peeples

Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and advocacy of those that are often ignored. Tanesha wholeheartedly believes that education is the foundation for success. Her grand vision is one where everyone—regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender or ZIP code—can have access to a comfortable quality of life and enjoy the freedoms and liberties promised to all Americans. And that's what she works towards every day.

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