Yeah, I said it. All week, on social media and news outlets, there’s been coverage of Virginia’s Governor,
denying claims of wearing blackface in the ’80s and refusing to resign over the controversy. https://twitter.com/NAACP/status/1093365169823141888 First of all, why are we surprised by racists doing racist things when racism is forever embedded in America’s DNA? They know what they’re doing when they do it, get caught, apologize and everyone moves on with life until the next incident happens. Sadly, it’s the American way. But, I was a little irritated to see Black public figures making
this the biggest deal. I turned to CNN the other night and
Don Lemon had a segment on it. Spike Lee was on
the Anderson Cooper show going off and
Al Sharpton was calling for resignation in The Hill. https://twitter.com/AC360/status/1093333336641069056 I get it. It’s a continuous slap in the face, we’re tired of being mistreated, want to take a stand and it’s a trending topic. But these leaders have the platform and ample opportunities to amplify much larger issues that directly affect our community and they’re not fully taking advantage. Because while we’re in an uproar over blackface, Black faces continue to
perish academically in a racially biased and discriminatory school system. We
all have to be outraged about that. Hey, Don, can you carve out some time to talk about how Black pre-K students are being
suspended at alarming rates? Apparently they’re being so aggressive with the Play-Doh that their teachers deem them a threat. Yo, Spike! Did you know that Black kids in the suburbs of your home state of New York were catching hell, too? Not only are they being unfairly suspended but they’re also being
held from taking AP classes because of the color of their skin—something we like to call the
belief gap. https://twitter.com/cristymsilva/status/1092526629245444096 And Mr. Sharpton, perhaps you can use your position as a Civil Rights icon and activist to talk about how
White boys are headed down the school-to-politics pipeline while Black boys are headed down the school-to-prison pipeline—and the only way to fight it is through building the
school-to-activism pipeline. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are some celebrities using their platform to talk about education. Like, I was so glad to see
Killer Mike and DJ Envy get into a heated debate about school options for Black kids on
The Breakfast Club—a radio show that has a large Black audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vMRqk0wgH8
Jay Z and
John Legend have consistently weighed in on the education conversation, the
need for reform and more mental health services. Some celebrities have started programs, opened and gone to bat for schools catering to underserved communities.
P. Diddy and
Chance the Rapper to name a few. And of course the best First Lady ever, Michelle Obama, has always been an
advocate for better education. I’m not saying that Don, Spike and Al care about the wrong issues and nor am I saying that outrage over blackface shouldn’t be a “thing.” But it’s a smaller thing on the list of way bigger things that we need to be fighting. So I don’t know if it’s
selective outrage, feeling disempowered in certain areas or a lack of awareness but we can’t go on like this. Our Black kids are in a crisis and need us to be all over it. Oh and just in case y’all missed the memo,
we’re done accepting apologies for racism!
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 ...