Why I'm Tired of Talking About Washed Up Celebs and Their Kids

Mar 15, 2019 12:00:00 AM


Everybody’s talking about the college admissions scam so I guess I’ll jump on the bandwagon. So here's what happened. The FBI conducted an investigation where 30 plus wealthy people—including celebrities that we haven’t heard from in years like Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin—were paying an agency to lie their kids into some of the most elite colleges around the country. https://twitter.com/C4PLIS/status/1105742831904268288 My sentiments...who the hell cares??? We’ve always known that people use their privilege and wealth to skirt the system. I’ll bet my right arm that’s how Donald Trump made it through college. https://twitter.com/TheCampaignHQ/status/1105998732384980992 But while these rich White people problems are inexcusable, they definitely shouldn't be our primary concern. Temporary outrage is one of the things that makes it possible for kids of color to continuously get cheated out of a good education. The media tends to give us advocacy ADHD—we’re mad about something one minute but drop it when the next trending topic catches our attention. The fact that it took this cheating scandal to shed light on Black and Brown parents that have gone to jail to get their kids into good schools infuriates me. https://twitter.com/onevoiceblogmag/status/1106268759700983810?s=19 And don't get it twisted, these parents didn’t have the privilege or wealth to bribe people to accept their kids. They were changing their addresses so their kids could attend schools better than the ones in their own neighborhoods. I remember going to hear Kelley Williams-Bolar tell her story in 2012. The better performing school district she enrolled her child in—using her father’s address—hired an investigator to find out if she really lived there and when it was discovered that she didn’t, they demanded that she pay them back $30,000.  When she refused, they sought chargers against her. In 2011, she was sentenced to jail, three years probation and community service. https://twitter.com/TalbertSwan/status/1105844790896279552?s=19 The next year, Tanya McDowell, a homeless parent in Connecticut, was sentenced to five years in jail for enrolling her son in a school in Norwalk event though she wasn’t a resident there. These women did nothing wrong in wanting the best for their kids. In fact, the real and ongoing crime here is how Black and Brown communities are saturated with high-poverty, low-quality schools and racially biased policies which keep students trapped in a two-tiered system designed to fail them. That trending topic needs to constantly be at the tip of our tongues. Let’s talk about how difficult it is for students of color to even get into and graduate from college because of racial bias and stereotypes. Remember Kamilah Campbell, the Black girl who was accused of cheating on her SATs? Well, her story has resurfaced in the midst of #CollegeGate but she’s undergone so much stress, drama and pushback since we and the media left her behind that she’s given up her fight and will retake the test. https://twitter.com/BenJoBubble/status/1105508105008353280 I’m glad to have some of our kids graduating from high school with a plethora of college options and substantial scholarships. Like Dylan Chidick who was once homeless but now has the option of choosing from 17 colleges that have accepted him. And AJ Brown, a student at Mizzou, who used her scholarship to study abroad in Italy. https://twitter.com/MizzouBlackAlum/status/1106193231904206849 But these handful of students aren’t enough. All students of color should have this option without having to know the struggle of making it through a failing school, a violent community or a rigorous application process because of their skin color. Our kids and families of color need and deserve our attention 24/7, 365—not just when the media floods our social media pages with scandal. They deserve more than our temporary outrage. Unfaltering and resilient advocacy is the only way we can equalize a system that favors the privileged and the wealthy. Let the media and FBI focus on #CollegeGate while we focus on our communities.

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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